When Brooklyn Beckham slipped a plain gold band onto his left ring finger, he did so long before his wedding day. This wasn’t a sign of nuptials signed, sealed and delivered, but of a promise made; and he’s one of a growing number of men who are celebrating their love with an engagement ring.
“I would get requests for [men’s engagement rings] once a year, but I’ve done three in the last two months,” says jewelery designer Ellis Mhairi Cameron. The engagement rings Cameron sells to men tend to be more like signet rings in style, often set with a central gemstone, such as an alternative diamond – green and salt and pepper diamonds tend to be most popular.
While certainly a trend on the rise, men’s engagement rings are still not entirely mainstream, and only a few brands have created dedicated collections or designs. Tiffany & Co created the Charles Tiffany Setting in 2021 – an emerald-cut diamond, bezel set east-to-west in a platinum band. London jeweller Lylie offers a similar style in its Turan men’s engagement ring with a baguette-cut diamond set horizontally in gold or platinum salvaged from e-waste.
As such, men seeking out engagement rings will often commission a bespoke design. This was the case for couple Daniel and Olly, who found their way to jeweler Amanda Li Hope. Both men wanted an engagement ring set with an Australian sapphire, but had different styles in mind. “Daniel was drawn to the clean lines and bold shapes of the Art Deco period, whereas Olly preferred the more organic and sinuous nature of the Art Nouveau,” says Li Hope. “Together, we came up with two distinct designs: a bold, geometric starburst design for Daniel [with a yellow sapphire] and a fluid but striking pattern [set with a multi-coloured parti sapphire] for Olly.” Li Hope says the couple intends to follow up with wedding rings.
This can often be a point of difference between men and women. While it would be incredibly rare for a woman to own an engagement ring and not a wedding band, men seeking engagement rings will often use it as a hybrid ring. “The engagement ring is often of a band sort of style, so it can act as both engagement and wedding ring,” says Guy Burton, managing director at Hancocks London. Although men’s engagement rings remain “the exception rather than the rule” at Hancocks, when men do seek out such rings they tend to opt for its gypsy rings set with diamonds, sapphires or rubies, or its double-band eternity rings.
Parisian jewelery brand Marie Mas has created a hybrid design with its We Ring wedding collection that is proving popular with men. The design is two rings: the first is a plain gold double-band design, which is sold with a second band decorated with enamel that slots within the first. When worn together, it looks like one ring. “The men, once they pick their ring, they start to wear the simple band as their engagement ring and then, once they get married, they assemble it with the second ring which will be their wedding band,” says the brand’s designer and founder Marie Cabirou.
The exciting thing about men’s engagement rings is that there is a sense of freedom to the design, as there no firm rules. “Women’s engagement rings are largely easy to identify by their styles and the typical process by which they’re presented as marriage proposals, but in our experience, an engagement ring for a man may take on all number of visual forms and can just as commonly be described as a ‘commitment ring’, or even a ‘gift’,” says Ruby McGonigle, marketing manager at Lebrusan Studio. She shares that the jeweller recently made an engagement ring for a man at the request of his girlfriend, who approached them secretly during the process of having her own engagement ring made by Lebrusan Studio “to present as a surprise after he’d popped the question to her”.
“The trend will get bigger and bolder as time goes on,” muses Ellis Mhairi Cameron. “We’ve seen an increase in men wearing brooches, pearl necklaces and bejeweled grills; the allure of a sparkling engagement ring for men being the norm is not far off.”
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