Brides-to-be look to stars from the silver screen for engagement ring inspiration, rejecting Instagram trends according to leading jeweller
Vintage diamond engagement rings worn by glamorous Hollywood sirens are making a comeback for today’s brides-to-be according to one of the capital’s top jewellers.
Hancocks London, based in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade, is reporting an unprecedented interest in newly engaged couples seeking rings that are not only timeless classics but give a nod to the glamorous hey days of old Hollywood.
The jewellers has identified the most desired engagement rings worn by Hollywood sirens and illustrated how each of their designs are inspiring brides-to-be now as much as they did historically.
Guy Burton, Director, Hancocks London, said:
“Our bespoke engagement ring service is world renowned given our reputation for making exceptional, one-off pieces. We regularly meet newly engaged couples either face to face or remotely, especially during lockdown, and help them design the ring of their dreams.
“The one trend we have started to notice over the last few months is that brides today are increasingly looking to legendary Hollywood stars for style inspiration. They are rejecting the Instagram influencers and popular celebrities who align themselves with jewellery brand and are now more likely to cite the original and authentic Hollywood trendsetters such as Mia Farrow, Jayne Mansfield, Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall when designing their dream ring.
“The stars of the silver screen, including Hepburn, always looked super sleek thanks, in part, to the sumptuous jewels they wore. Decades on, their style continues to captivate, with women around the world still being influenced by old Hollywood glamour.”
Hancocks London has charted nine of its clients’ all-time Hollywood favourites including:
1. Elizabeth Taylor
Actress Elizabeth Taylor was known for her taste in luxurious gems, and her third husband, the theatre and film producer Mike Todd, went big! Todd proposed with a 29.4 carat emerald cut diamond ring, a stone so large that Taylor referred to it as her “ice skating rink”.
Guy Burton says:
“Elizabeth Taylor’s passion for jewels is as well documented as her romances.
“We are noticing a greater interest in emerald cut diamonds as they are incredibly elegant and also timeless. We recently sold an engagement ring very similar to this one which featured a vintage emerald cut diamond with fine hand-engraving detail. This is a real statement ring, exactly like Liz Taylor liked hers to be! The bride-to-be also liked the charm of a vintage diamond and her fiancé was savvy enough to know that these diamonds are in scarce supply so will hold their value.”
2. Grace Kelly
Known for her classic and understated style, the much-loved actress Grace Kelly became the epitome of Fifties elegance. After a fairy tale romance with Prince Rainier of Monaco, she left acting as she became Princess, giving her access to the most incredible jewellery collection.
Kelly ended up with not one but two engagement ring. Her first, a diamond and ruby eternity ring by Cartier, was presented to her by Prince Rainier when he proposed over the Christmas holidays in December 1955. This was said to be a placeholder ring until the actual ring was made. The second, more dazzling ring, was also by Cartier and featured a 10.48-carat emerald-cut diamond, flanked by tapered baguette-cut side stones.
Kelly was a master of minimalism. Guy Burton explains:
“Both Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier had impeccable taste and effortless style and this is what a lot of brides today want to emulate when choosing an engagement ring.
“We recently had a client who had created a whole Pinterest board with different angles of Grace Kelly’s rings. She wanted something similar with a twist so we ended up sourcing an even older diamond than in Kelly’s original ring – ours is a 1930s, 5.19 carat old emerald-cut diamond set in platinum with baguette side stones. It’s the epitome in style. It was the perfect ring for her.”
The relationship between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart was one of the most talked about in Hollywood. In 1945, the couple tied the knot at author Louis Bromfield’s farm in rural Ohio. The ring, presented to Bacall by Bogart, was made of a thick band and had a coloured gemstone as its centrepiece. The ring was regarded as extraordinary as its gemstone looked wider than the band.
Guy Burton says:
“With her sultry voice and seductive looks, Lauren Bacall epitomised the elegance and taste of Hollywood. Her style was unmistakable and she was prepared to be different.
“Our cabochon emerald and gold gypsy-set ring is equally unusual and showcases the gem in the centre of a nice thick band, which is in 22ct yellow gold to get a superb rich colour. It is timeless, understated and reflects the sophistication and glamour of a true Hollywood legend and these are really important style cues for brides today.
“This style works well for a bride who want to achieve something a little bolder and stand-out without necessarily relying on a large gemstone. The gold look is strong and it is particularly popular at the moment.”
4. Jackie Kennedy
Senator John Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier announced their engagement to the press in 1953. Excited reporters asked to see the ring and there wasn’t one. “Jack and I have looked at dozens of them,” Jackie was reported to have said. “Some I didn’t like and others weren’t the right type.” The couple eventually they found a ring at Van Cleef & Arpels in New York. The toi-et-moi ring was composed of a 2.84 carat emerald-cut emerald and a 2.88-carat emerald-cut diamond. Baguette-cut diamonds and emeralds decorated the arms of the original design.
Guy Burton says:
“Toi-et-moi rings are inextricably linked with some of the world’s greatest love stories and are often described as one of the most romantic rings of all time. They symbolise the coming together of two people in love through the expression of two gemstones set alongside each other on a ring. Jackie Kennedy’s ring made headlines around the world when she revealed her ring but the ring dates back centuries before.….in 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to Joséphine de Beauharnais with a diamond and blue sapphire toi-et-moi ring, she said yes and three weeks later they were married.
“We are finding that couples really want the engagement ring they choose to be a symbol of their love and tell their story. “Brides-to-be love Jackie Kennedy’s style and have come in with pictures of her ring along with other examples and want to build on this design. They really like the history associated with the design together with the fact that they are easy to wear.
“Our interpretation of the toi-et-moi ring features a design with two incredibly matched 1930s rectangular asschers and set them with calibrated sapphire shoulder.”
5. Judy Garland
American actress, singer and dancer Judy Garland had five different engagement rings throughout her life. After two failed marriages, she met and fell in love with show business producer Sidney Luft in 1950. Luft proposed to Judy and they married in 1952. He presented her with a pear-shaped diamond solitaire flanked by two tapered baguettes. Crafted out of platinum and paired with a thin diamond eternity wedding band, the ring was a real showstopper.
Guy Burton comments:
“A beautiful antique pear-shaped diamond like the one Judy wore is hard to beat and exceptional examples always catch the eye of buyers. They have a long association with glamorous wearers – from Elizabeth Taylor to Mia Farrow – and have some great advantages over traditional round-cut diamonds: their elongated share means that a pear-shaped diamond looks larger than a round.
“Antique pear-shaped diamonds are regarded as one of the most captivating old cuts, again they come all forms and shapes of pear but they tend to be much softer than their modern equivalent which can be sharp and severe. They work well as an engagement ring as they flow nicely down the finger but allow a wedding band to sit snuggly behind it.
“This beautiful old cut pear-shape diamond weighs 2.38 carats and is set between tapered baguette diamond shoulders, all in finely handcrafted platinum. It oozes Hollywood glamour.”
6. Mia Farrow
Actress Mia Farrow received a striking pear-shaped diamond weighing nine carats from Frank Sinatra in June of 1966. Farrow was 21-years-old and Sinatra 50-years-old. The couple were married in Las Vegas but divorced two years later. Mia described Sinatra as the love of her life saying she “loved him ‘til the day he died and beyond.”
Guy Burton comments:
“Pear-shaped diamonds seemed to fade after the end of the Sixties but they are now back and more in demand that ever.
“Antique pear shapes often buck the trend – compared to modern pears – at being much ‘spreadier’. Very often, like in our ring example here, the antique pear shape will look considerably larger than a modern pear shape of the same weight.
“This ring oozes style. In this case, the old-cut diamond does all the talking and is set simply in a finely engraved yellow gold solitaire. A statement ring in its truest form.”
Jayne Mansfield, the Hollywood film, theatre and television actress married three times during her life. After a first failed marriage to Paul Mansfield, Jayne, 34, met the actor and former Mr Universe Mickey Hargitay at the Latin Quarter nightclub in New York City in 1956. She fell for him immediately and just over a year later, he proposed to her with a 10 carat round diamond ring in November 1957. The couple married in California – Mansfield wore a pink, skin tight wedding gown made of sequins with a 27 metre flounce of pink tulle (designed by a 20th Century Fox costume designer) and, at the reception, she had Hargitay drink pink champagne. Their Sunset Boulevard home was famous for its heart-shaped swimming pool which Mickey personalised with an ‘I love you Jayne’ message in gold leaf mosaic.
Guy Burton says:
“Round diamond solitaires have lasted the test of the time and will never go out of fashion. They have been the most popular shape since diamond-cutting techniques allowed them to be. The beauty of round symmetry is something that makes them very versatile from a design perspective and has long appealed to brides.
With this antique round, old European brilliant cut diamond, we have set in 18ct yellow gold and platinum with diamond accents and our signature decorative hand-engraving to create a ring that has real standout and catches the attention just like Ms Mansfield did throughout her Hollywood career.”
8. Audrey Hepburn
Actress Audrey Hepburn’s style was classic, understated and always stylish. The actress famously had a passion for fashion, often sketching her own on-screen outfits and becoming a muse to Hubert de Givenchy. She remains a style icon and is much admired by brides-to-be according to Hancocks London.
After a first meeting at a film party in London, actor Mel Ferrer and Hepburn started dating and he went on to propose to her. Her engagement ring was a slender platinum eternity band with channel set baguette-cut diamonds. During their 1954 wedding ceremony in Switzerland, Ferrer gave Hepburn two wedding bands: one while gold and the other pink gold, both the same size and decorated with a faceted pattern. Each of the rings was engraved with the date of the wedding.
Guy Burton says:
“Audrey’s style is as relevant and influential today as it was when she was alive. At the time, it was quite unusual to opt for simple bands versus the popular solitaire. But now we are seeing a number of today’s brides-to-be who are less interested in a main central stone yet still want something simple yet special to mark their marriage. As a result, we have created a platinum eternity band featuring French-cut diamonds. The French cuts are set horizontally within a finely crafted and ornately hand engraved platinum channel set mount. They are extremely versatile, can be stacked and look stylish without trying.”
9. Natalie Portman
Moving from old Hollywood to new Hollywood, actress and enowned activist Natalie Portman is often described as “an intellectual actress” and it is no surprise that her engagement ring epitomised her stand on sustainability. Instead of opting for a newly cut diamond, hers featured an antique round diamond has been set within a double diamond-set halo surround.
Guy Burton comments:
“Old cuts are the ultimate in sustainability when it comes to diamonds. These were physically cut and polished by hand and eye in the era before computers and lasers. The very best cutters were remarkable craftsmen who understood the material and could extract the maximum amount of life and beauty from the diamond rough using stunning cuts that were not restricted by today’s commercial parameters of standard size, cut and need to maximise carat weight. A wonderful by-product of using these special stones is the fact that they are recycled and the most environmentally responsible source of diamonds.
“Sustainability is extremely important for today’s couples and we have created a new collection of engagement rings as a result. The below ring is set with an old European brilliant cut diamond in a similar style to Natalie’s, however, we decided upon a single halo. We have also introduced some of the fine engraved detail in Hancocks London’s house style to nod to the era of when the diamond was polished.”
Hancocks London Director Guy Burton sums up:
“The classic and elegant engagement rings from Hollywood in its hey day were really special. They oozed glamour and had a strong connection to the romance associated with the filmmaking industry, whether that was the romance between co-stars to the splendour of onscreen chemistry.
“Our customers really appreciate these classic yet glamorous designs and want a ring which can stand the test of time from a design perspective and also one that captures the remarkable gemstones, masterful craftsmanship and exceptional gemstones.”
Hancocks London prices range from £3,500 up to £295,000 and bespoke commissions can also be made upon request.