How engagement rings have changed over the past 100 years

Susan Solinski/FlickrEngagement rings have evolved alongside fashion trends.
  • Engagement rings don’t look the same as they did 100 years ago.
  • An infographic created by jewellery buyer WP Diamonds shows that many engagement ring styles have repeatedly gone in and out of fashion throughout the years.
  • While the ’80s and ’90s saw a surge of geometric ring shapes and brightly coloured stones, modern brides favour more classic styles.
  • While the future of engagement ring trends is uncertain, colourful gems are likely to disappear as result of “supply constraints.”

Just as clothing fads come and go, the most popular styles of engagement rings have changed every decade over the past century. But some designs, on the other hand, have proven to be timeless.

Since 1920, emerald-cut stones have slipped in and out of fashion, Asscher diamondsa step-cut stone shaped like a square – have surged in popularity, and round stones have remained a staple in the wedding world.

Below, take a closer look at how engagement ring trends have evolved over the years, according to a recent infographic created by jewellery buyer WP Diamonds.

In the 1920s, engagement rings featuring diamond halos became popular.

Nick Webb/FlickrThis ring shows a diamond halo surrounding an Asscher-cut diamond.

According to WP Diamonds, engagement rings with geometric shapes and sharp lines were popular in the 1920s, coinciding with the height of the Art Deco period. Emeraldcut and Asscher diamonds were especially common, and more extravagant rings were accentuated with diamond halos.

Engagement rings in the 1930s featured bands shaped like ribbons.

Rob Bixby/FlickrRings with twisting bands were a common choice.

Engagement rings in the 1930s were “trying to evolve” from the Art Deco period, according to WP Diamonds’ infographic. Single diamonds were often used as the centrepiece on bands shaped like ribbons or bows.

Round-cut diamonds were all the rage in the 1940s.

Chris Martin/FlickrAn example of a ring with a round center stone.

Round stones rose in popularity in the ’40s thanks to De Beers’ famous “Diamonds Are Forever” commercial. Rose-gold and yellow-gold bands also became common choices as World War II limited access to platinum in the US, according to WP Diamonds.

Many couples opted for pear-shaped diamonds in the 1950s.

Jason Merritt/Getty ImagesThis decade also saw larger diamonds and stackable bands.

Audrey Hepburn’s iconic engagement ring, which featured a trio of bands in three different types of gold, brought stackable bands into fashion in the ’50s.

Asscher-cut diamonds were all the rage in the 1960s.

This decade saw the return of Art Deco, according to WP Diamonds, and with it, Asscher-cut and emerald-cut stones.

Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring from John F. Kennedy, which featured emeralds in addition to diamonds, also made coloured gemstones a popular choice for couples.

Emerald-cut diamonds continued to be popular in the ’70s.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesThe rectangular emerald cut is easily recognisable.

During this decade, brides also began to match their engagement rings to their wedding bands, many of which were yellow- and rose-gold.

However, emerald-cut styles are still quite popular today, and are even worn by some celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, who announced her engagement to Alex Rodriguez in March 2019.

Lopez’s ring features an emerald-cut stone, which is estimated to weigh between 15 and 20 carats, according to diamond experts. In a statement provided to INSIDER, experts from James Allen said that the ring is likely worth more than $US1 million, while gemologists at Rare Carat said in a separate statement that the ring could be worth around $US4.5 million – that is, if it has a D-Flawless diamond, a rare type of stone that has a totally colorless appearance.

Colourful diamonds and gemstones were huge in the 1980s.

Oli Scarff/Getty ImagesEmeralds, rubies, and sapphires are popular examples of colourful gemstones.

Round-cut diamonds and yellow-gold bands were still extremely popular in the ’80s, but Princess Diana’s engagement ring from Prince Charles, which featured a sapphire gemstone, changed the nuptials industry.

The royal ring was so popular that many replicas were made, according to WP Diamonds’ infographic.

Read more:
Meghan Markle wore one of Princess Diana’s rings to the royal wedding reception and people are here for it

Engagement rings in the 1990s were greatly influenced by the rise of grunge.

Stephen Shugerman/Getty ImagesAlso known as the football cut, marquise cuts became popular this decade.

With the rise of grunge in the 1990s, rings became bolder and sharper. Marquise-cut diamonds were particularly fashionable, and yellow-gold bands took a backseat to bands made of white gold and platinum.

Princess-cut diamonds dominated engagement ring trends in the early 2000s.

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesEngagement rings of the early 2000s were chic.

Many couples in the 2000s opted for engagement rings with large diamonds or stones. Taking inspiration from the ’60s, the princess cut also came back into fashion.

By the early 2010s, cushion-cut diamonds became the most popular choice for couples.

Joosep Martinson/Getty ImagesCushion-cut stones feature a square shape with rounded corners.

According to WP Diamonds, the classic cushion cut is still popular today.

Currently, oval diamonds are all the rage.

Skinny bands and large oval diamonds are in style, according to WP Diamonds. Usually set vertically – or, on occasion, horizontally – oval diamonds let couples play around with the appearance of their engagement rings. Celebrities like Julianne Hough and, more recently, Hailey Baldwin, are also fans of oval engagement rings.

Another huge trend in 2018 is having a custom-designed ring, as brides aim to better showcase their individual personalities.

In the past century, the most popular ring style has been a gold band with a solitaire stone.

Scott Barbour/Getty ImagesThis minimalist design is timeless.

Speaking to INSIDER, the president of WP Diamonds, Andrew Brown, said the most popular engagement ring style in the last 100 years is actually pretty simple: A “round solitaire diamond, around one carat, set on a simple yellow-gold band.”

According to Brown, there will always be innovation in the diamond industry but trends often “revert to the classics.”

So, what will come next? Brown thinks that round diamonds will “remain the most popular shape” while oval and cushion cuts will “continue in their rise.” The WP Diamonds president also expects other trends to go out of style, like the princess cut popularised in the early 2000s.

Unfortunately for those who love colourful stones, Brown said that we can also expect to see a “decline in production of coloured diamonds due to supply constraints.”

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