Historically Jewish engagement rings contained intricate, heavy designs, unsuitable for daily wear. They reflected the power, position and wealth of the families. The exchange of engagement rings gained importance during the Renaissance as evidence of commitment.
“Engagement rings are the most popular of all the betrothal tokens that can be found in a traditional Jewish wedding,” according to Judaica Guide: A Complete Guide to Essential Judaica & Hebrew. They can become family heirlooms passed on to generations and often remounted for a lucky daughter-in-law.
The diamond business has gained more attention over the years through various advertising campaigns. Take the one by the South African Oppenheimer family, originally from Germany, who ran DeBeers diamonds. In 1940 they hired a New York advertising firm to market the slogan: “A Diamond is Forever.” It translated into romance and the pursuit of larger and high-quality stones, according to The Atlantic’s 2015 story by Uri Friedman, “How an Ad Campaign Invented the Diamond Engagement Ring.”
And then, there’s Marilyn Monroe: “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
Modern Jewish brides want sleek designs to wear throughout their lives. “The oval is the hot new shape,” said Jonathan Agami, principal of Universal Diamond Corp in Buckhead. “The three stone and halo styles are a bit outdated. Solitaires with a thin band — with or without stones — are popular. Thin or “skinny” bands allow stacking now or adding wedding band layers later.”
When asked about metals, Agami said, “Rose gold, yellow gold, platinum — all metals that are in fashion.”
At Solomon Brothers Fine Jewelry, also in Buckhead, the round brilliant cut diamond has been the most requested shape for as long as president Jaron Solomon can remember. He said, “By definition, an ideal cut round stone reflects the optimum amount of light and gives off the most sparkle. Other very popular shapes with sparkle include the cushion modified brilliant, which can be square or rectangular with soft edges, and the oval. Several of our designers are onto a new trend where the elongated center stone is set east-west rather than north-south along the finger. This is a must-see for the fashion-forward!”
Most engagement rings have a wedding band to match, Solomon continued, “but a matching set is not required. We get requests for a simple single row of diamonds on the band that can be set in different ways: pavé [no metal showing], single prong, and shared prong. Each technique gives a subtly different look. If it’s too hard to choose, many of today’s brides opt for multiple bands giving a very trendy layered, or stacked look. “
Designs with inscriptions are also an option. In Hebrew or English, they may contain the couple’s names, wedding date and “Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li,” which means: “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” These rings make sure that Jews never forget our rich cultural heritage.
As Solomon puts it: “Your engagement ring might not be the most expensive piece of jewelry you will ever own, but it’s certainly the most significant.”