16 December

Engagement Rings Fit for a Queen

Whoever said engagement rings have to be diamonds has obviously never been a queen. Not only are colorful engagement rings unique and elegant, they also have adorned powerful potentates throughout royal history. Thanks to these women bulldozing jewelry boundaries, your options are limitless when choosing an engagement ring that packs a loving punch, in whichever color you please.

It all began with Queen Elizabeth, who was proposed to with a blue sapphire ring. This marked the birth of a tradition; Princess Anne and Princess Diana also received blue sapphire engagement rings. Princess Sarah Ferguson kept the colorful tradition alive, yet mixed things up with a ruby engagement ring.  It seems like Royal Rocks are just more colorful!

And now the latest royal, Kate Middleton, has captured the hearts of Prince William and the world, wearing Diana’s ring: a touching example of how style transcends time.  Dazzling in blue, Kate has taken the trend for colored gemstone engagements to a new generation.

These royal women opened the diamond door for engaged women across the globe. You are welcome, of course, to go the traditional diamond route if you so please, as many women still do. Other color and gemstone options include amethyst, emerald, aquamarine,  pink sapphire, black diamond, and yellow sapphire.

Go ahead and be creative and unique; explore all of the options that are right at your fingertips!

Actress, writer and improviser Brooke Lenzi is a performer on stage and screen in Los Angeles. She likes gifts that come in small packages.

6 December

A Ruby for Jessica

Just last month, Jessica Simpson and her boyfriend, life coach and former NFL player Eric Johnson, announced their engagement after just five months of dating. When asked what she loves most about her fiancee, Simpson replied, “Just the way he makes me feel, honestly. How comfortable I feel being myself with him. I love how confident he is and he’s not fazed by this world and life that I’m living… I can’t imagine my life without him in it.”

Jessica debuted her vintage, 1910 Tiffany ring, purchased from Neil Lane, at a Kansas City Dillard’s department store while promoting her clothing line. The shining scarlet star of her ring is an oval-shaped, five-carat ruby; two pear-cut diamonds on both sides also weigh in around five carats combined. The stones are set in yellow gold, and the ring is reportedly worth $100,000. A similar style, aptly named the Jessica Ring, is available on Gemvara, for about $25,000.

The story of the proposal itself isn’t very romantic: Jessica has told the press that Eric kept her engagement ring tucked safely away in a shoe for weeks before proposing while watching TV. The pair held a massive pizza party and celebrated with 50 friends soon after the announcement. This will be the second marriage for both Jessica and Eric. A wedding date has not yet been set.

Jessica is doubly thrilled with the vintage ruby ring – not only is ruby a romantic choice for an engagement ring, but she was born in July, and so ruby is her birthstone too, making it a personal statement.

Ruby has long been considered the king of all gemstones, symbolizing passion, power, and royalty. In England, rubies were set in coronation rings and even battle helmets to make the wearer invulnerable. In Ayurveda, rubies are believed to help to prevent miscarriages, fortify the heart, and restore balance in relationships. In more modern times, rubies represent undying love and passion – the perfect way to start a marriage.

Colored gemstones are becoming more popular  as engagement rings as a new generation looks for a ring that expresses their own unique personalities. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, received a ruby engagement ring from Prince Andrew. And of course, Kate Middleton’s ring famously sports an enormous cobalt-blue sapphire. Would you opt for a colored engagement ring if you had a choice in the matter?

You don’t need to spend a hundred grand to get Jessica’s look: Gemvara sells a much more affordable option, though no less lovely. The 1.6 carat, oval-cut ruby shown here, flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds, each just over half a carat and set in yellow gold, is a very similar style.

19 November

Kate Middleton's Crown Jewel

Prince William and Kate Middleton finally announced their engagement this week, after eight years together. This was a great day for the British Royal Family, but there was one thing that outshone the interviews, the reporting, and even the announcement itself – the ring.

On Kate’s hand was Princess Diana’s sapphire and fourteen-diamond stunner, staring out across TV and the Internet, and initiating an enormous wave of demand for a similar ring. Even her gorgeous, matching blue Issa dress sold out in sheer minutes on the designer’s website.

The eighteen-carat oval sapphire is set in a ballerina-style mounting with diamonds encircling the cobalt-colored gem in white gold. Originally valued between $40,000 and $60,000 when it was purchased from jeweler Garrard in 1981, the present value of the ring is reportedly at about $500,000.

After Princess Diana’s death in 1997, it was Prince Harry who chose the ring to remember his beloved mother. Prince William chose her 18K yellow gold Cartier Tank Francaise watch, on which she used to teach him to tell time. However, Harry gave the ring to William to propose with, as he saw that it was the perfect way to officially welcome Kate into the Royal Family. (No word on if William has traded the watch to Harry in thanks.) The most celebrated wedding since Princess Di’s will likely take place next summer.

Blue sapphires have a history as rich and deep as their color. The term sapphire comes from the Latin word “saphirus” and the Greek word “sapheiros,” both of which mean “blue”. Kings across the globe wore sapphires, having believed that the gems kept them safe, promoted divine favor, and imparted wisdom. Sapphires were also thought to have protected against witchcraft and to keep thoughts pure. The deep hue of the blue sapphire is said to promote serenity, honesty, and to preserve innocence. In more modern times, sapphires have been connected to love, and represent fidelity, honesty, and devotion. When the lore of the deep-blue gem is taken into account, the properties of the sapphire are indeed very appropriate for an engagement ring.

What do you think of Kate’s ring? Would you go crazy for a Kate/Diana engagement ring of your own? The holidays are coming, and it’s a great time to drop some hints if you’re hoping for a truly spectacular gift this winter. Men, we want to know what you think! Would you consider proposing with a sapphire ring instead of a traditional white diamond?

Even if you don’t have a half-million dollar budget, a ring like Kate’s is within reach.  Gemvara has a lovely similar sapphire style with 14 diamonds in platinum that is less than the average ordinary diamond engagement ring.  Like Kate’s ring, it will definitely turn heads.

10 August

Chelsea Clinton: Get the Look

It’s wedding season, as the paparazzi remind us daily.  Maybe you’ve heard somewhere that Chelsea Clinton recently married her longtime beau, Mark Mezvinsky? It may not be the wedding of the century, but coverage of the wedding will certainly influence wedding trends this year.

Chelsea’s ornate Vera Wang strapless gown, with a sleek lined bodice, elegantly accentuated by cascading waves of laser-cut silk on the skirt and train will probably lead to a big revival of strapless full-skirt silhouettes that are flattering on almost everyone.

Chelsea’s jewelry is also is setting the trends for wedding-day jewelry. In particular, her diamond flower drop earrings are a lovely look, especially for brides who are considering an updo. Her diamond tennis bracelet is a classic look that is perfect for your wedding day and every other day for the rest of your life. (And a fabulous gift idea for the bride’s parents, even if they don’t travel with secret service agents.)

No doubt Chelsea’s engagement ring would also set the style for sparklers, maybe even more than Carrie’s ring from Sex and the City, which has caused a surge in black diamond engagement ring sales this summer. There’s just one problem: so far, no pictures are available that clearly show the design of Chelsea’s ring.  Is it a three or four carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring?  You tell me: the only photos are pretty blurry.

Chelsea’s wedding band is another story. The Platinum Guild recently announced that Chelsea wed with a platinum band with vintage detailing. This Tacori band is said to be “similar.”  Does this mean the engagement ring is platinum with vintage-inspired details?  Unless you have can just say “enhance” and make those blurry images suddenly come into focus like they do in the movies, we’ll have to wait for new photos from those paparazzi to say for sure.

7 July

Top Three Sex & the City Trends

As you might expect, the second Sex and the City movie is a feast of fashion.  But this time, the three trends with real staying power are jewelry, not clothes or shoes. Here are the top three Sex and the City trends and some tips on where to find these sizzling styles.

1. The Black Diamond Engagement Ring

Big chooses a black diamond engagement ring for Carrie because she is “not like anyone else.” Ironically, this unusual choice is becoming a whole lot less unusual since the movie, with women everywhere choosing basic black for their engagement ring. Sales of black diamonds have been surging in the past few weeks. The ring in the movie is a five-carat 18k black diamond ring by Itay Malkin which is being offered for $10,000.  If that’s a little out of your price range, Gemvara has a 1.5-carat black diamond engagement ring in a similar style in platinum for less than $2,500 that’s still plenty breathtaking.

2. The Moon & Star Pendant

Patricia Field found Carrie’s Moon & Star pendant in a bazaar in Turkey.  Ever since, fashionistas have been searching for something similar (and it’s a bit frustrating since many styles advertised as similar really aren’t the same.) At Gemvara, we saw your Moon & Star and raised you one brilliant planet. It’s Carrie’s Moon & Star pendant. Only better.  We promise.

3. The Four-Leaf Clover Pendant

This oversized diamond pave four-leaf clover is the only design that Patricia Fields herself knocked off. She made an inexpensive copy.  It’s totally sold out for now.  You can find a similar three-leaf Shamrock pendant on Gemvara and a five leaf flower on emitations. SheFinds has some more alternatives. But, alas, nothing is exactly the same. But be patient! In the next few weeks, more four leaf clover styles are sure to be available: it’s the horseshoe pendant of 2010.

1 July

Five Reasons to Go Vintage

Vintage-inspired engagement rings have risen in popularity in recent years. This may be due in part to the fashion on television series like Mad Men and the recent resurgence of art nouveau styles in fashion and interior design.

As you shop for an engagement ring or look for little hints to share with your loved one, here are five elements that might inspire you to choose a vintage look:

  1. Customization: Few have access to original pieces — and even then it’s hard to guarantee that an antique piece will be exactly what the bride-to-be wants. New vintage-style engagement rings come in hundreds of styles. You can even design your own jewelry.
  2. Classic Colors: Modern brides who love vintage looks choose garnet rings, emerald rings and other vibrant gemstones in addition to diamonds. Gemstone jewelry stands out and makes a wonderful conversation piece.
  3. Glittering Accents: Vintage-inspired engagement rings often sparkle with tiny accent diamonds. These make the band and setting stand out, and frame the main gem beautifully.
  4. Wearable Art: Because vintage designs have been inspired by decades-old fashions, these engagement rings remain classic and timeless. Investing in a vintage-inspired engagement ring is like investing in a piece of art.
  5. Romantic Nostalgia: There’s something inherently romantic about classic vintage styles. From the elegance of emerald-cut diamonds to the dainty architecture of filigree, these designs have a sentimental beauty. We’re inspired to recall great loves of the past, and the marriages that made up our heritage.

Maria Mora is a memoir blogger and photographer. She loves emerald-cut diamonds, dainty pendants and anything and everything sparkly.

10 May

Emerald: Go Green

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Emerald is the gem of goddesses. In ancient Rome, it was dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love.  The Incas had an emerald goddess the size of an ostrich egg. Smaller gems were smashed in sacrifice to her.

In ancient Egypt, mummies were buried with an emerald on their necks to symbolize rebirth. Cleopatra’s emeralds were the talk of the ancient world.

Both Jacqueline Kennedy and Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, the woman King Edward gave up his throne to marry, had emerald engagement rings.

Emeralds also adorn the goddesses of the screen, from Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich to Angelina Jolie and Julianne Moore.

Because the rich green color of emerald is the color of spring, it has long symbolized love and rebirth. As the gem of Venus, it was also considered an aid to fertility.

In addition to reigning as the birthstone for May, emerald is also the gem of the 20th and 35th anniversary, a suitable tribute to life-long love.

But no one who loves emerald should have to wait that long! Since this green gem symbolizes new beginnings, it’s the perfect symbol to celebrate a fresh start at a new job, a new house, or a recommitment ceremony.

Contemplating a new workout regime, a new blog, a vow to hold your temper? Surely any promise to turn over a new leaf will be much easier to keep while wearing emerald! So indulge your inner goddess and give it a try.

Angelina Jolie Wears Emeralds

18 March

Princess Diaries

One of the cool things about being a retailer that offers thousands of different gem options is that you get really interesting data on jewelry trends. It’s like having a 24/7 focus group with thousands of women all over the country advising you on what jewelry designs they like best. The biggest gem trend that we’ve seen on the Gemvara site during our first month is princess cut gemstones.

This isn’t totally unexpected. Princess cuts are the second most popular choice for engagement rings. According to a survey by The Knot of recently and soon-to-be married couples in March 2009, 29 percent of all engagement rings today are princess cuts. It makes sense that women who love princess cut diamonds in their engagement ring also love princess cut colored gemstones too. And some of the princess cut colored gemstones that our customers have ordered have been engagement rings. Couples are much more creative today when it comes to engagement rings, both in shape and color.

Here are five of our most popular princess cut gemstone designs. Since everything we make can be customized, they are available in any gem. The most popular gem choices in princess cuts so far have been amethyst and sapphire. I think peridot, citrine and red garnet also look great. What do you think?

Amethyst princess cut ring by Ji Hwang

Peridot princess cut ring from Gemvara Essentials

Princess cut sapphire engagement ring by Ji Hwang

Princess cut red garnet ring by Stephanie Satow

Princess cut citrine ring by Gemvara Essentials

5 March

Katy Perry: Engaged in Yellow

Katy Perry and Russell Brand aren’t what you would call a conventional couple. So it’s not surprising that the singer and comedian didn’t pick a conventional engagement ring when they got engaged on New Year’s Eve. OK, we’re not entering Carmen Electra black diamond territory here: the ring features a traditional three-carat round diamond the Diamond Information Center estimates cost $120,000.

But Katy’s new engagement ring is not the white gold pave encrusted style that is most in vogue in Hollywood today, it’s a wide yellow gold band with some side detailing. And Scarlett Johansson’s engagement ring is yellow gold too: are yellow gold engagement rings ready for a comeback?

3 February

Five Engaging Trends


Although every gem is as unique as a fingerprint, it’s the setting that truly makes your engagement ring your own. Couples today are more adventurous than ever before, customizing every detail of the ring to express the uniqueness of their bond. Here are the top five trends in engagement rings today.

Halo Effect

To emphasize the center stone and make it look larger, many engagement ring designs today surround the center stone with a halo of small diamonds. It’s a great way to add sparkle to your ring while keeping the style simple.

Curves Ahead

Twists and turns give make these settings feminine but modern too. Some have a simple twist or braid in the shank, others a sweeping line that embraces the stone.

Showing Colors

For Carrie Underwood, it was a fancy yellow diamond. Other brides flank a white diamond with colored gemstones. Carmen Electra even chose a black diamond center. A shot of color is the quickest way to express your individuality in your ring.

Triple Play

If one diamond is brilliant, three is even better! Many couples today are choosing a center diamond flanked by two more diamonds. They love the “past, present, future” symbolism and also the extra dazzle. If you are looking to upgrade your ring for your fifth or tenth anniversary, this style lets you continue to wear your original stone as one of a pair of sidestones flanking a new larger center.

Putting on Air

The sleekest new styles use negative space to keep styles streamlined but delicate too. The ring splits into two before embracing the center stone, leaving space between the two halves. These styles are very light and comfortable to wear, even if the center stone is large.