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Vegas Recap: The Best Alternative Bridal Collections
I can’t think of a better engagement ring shopping wingman than Benjamin Guttery (a.k.a. @thirdcoastgems)—the GIA graduate gemologist, D.C.A. Diamondtologist and Instagrammer par excellence is 100 percent fluent in diamond-speak and intimately familiar with the vast array of engagement ring style options on the market today (like me, he’s a huge proponent of colored stone engagement rings). He’s also on a first-name basis with the jewelry industry’s top-tier designers and recently got a... chance to see all of their new collections during Las Vegas Jewelry Week.
Las Vegas Jewelry Week is a little like New York Fashion Week only way more glamorous (or…way less glamorous, depending on the trade show floor you’re walking). The Couture and JCK Luxury shows are the most prestigious, and knowing that Benjamin would be covering every inch of them (and then some), I asked him to curate a selection of must-shop alternative bridal collections just for About Style readers. And hooray, his picks include a few incredibly cool options for guys!
“Attending COUTURE and JCK cemented a few trends for me that I have been following for awhile,” says Benjamin. “Colored gemstones are in vogue for engagement rings and wedding bands. Diamonds with natural inclusions are perfect for those who want something truly unique and rare. And high-shine styles are on the way out. Right now, it’s all about designers adding textures and patterns to precious metals.”
Encompassing the cool and unusual and everything in between, the following slideshow narrows your search considerably—a good thing—but if you want to see more, Benjamin suggests trolling Instagram for inspo: “I always search the hashtags #alternativebridal, #engagement101 and of course, my own hashtag, #StacksAreTheNewBlack, for a fresh perspective on new and exciting rings.”
You'll see one of Benjamin's own wedding bands (he has two) in some of the photos. The wildly striking sapphire and diamond design has become his signature (think: Iris Apfel’s glasses or Karl Lagerfeld's fingerless leather gloves). But let’s try to find you a ring, shall we? Benjamin, lead the way!Continue to 2 of 12 below.
02 of 12
From Megan Thorne...
"The debut of Megan Thorne's new Calliope Collection was a great success at Couture, and the pink sapphire, ruby, and rose-cut diamonds were to-die-for."
Assorted 18k gold Calliope rings detailed with brilliant white diamond accents and featuring pear-shaped, round and rose cut diamonds, and pear-shaped, round, trillion, princess- and Asscher-cut sapphires, from $2,500 to $4,000 each, all Megan ThorneContinue to 3 of 12 below.
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From Megan Thorne..
"As you can see, I have a problem...I'm obsessed with Megan's work. She's a former textile designer—specifically lace—and you can see where some of her inspiration lies. These new additions to her Ribbon Frame line incorporate diamonds in geometric cuts, most of them in fancy colors."
Assorted 18k white and yellow gold Ribbon Frame rings with kite, hexagon, oval and cushion-cut natural rustic diamonds, rose- and emerald-cut sapphires and brilliant white diamond accents, from... $2,800 to $4,500 each, all Megan Thorne, available at ylang23.comContinue to 4 of 12 below.
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From TAP by Todd Pownell...
"In my former life as a fine jewelry consultant, I used to hear one thing from grooms consistently: 'I want my wedding band to have a unique finish!' From hammered to brushed to sandblasted, Todd Pownell has you guys out there covered. A plus is that the designer finds a way to sneak in some sparkle too, while still keeping the look incredibly masculine."
FROM LEFT: 18k yellow gold over silver men’s wedding band with inverted black diamonds, $1,720; palladium over silver men’s... wedding band with inverted black diamonds, $1,675; 18k hammered yellow gold men’s wedding band with inverted single-cut white diamonds and five brown diamonds, $2,995; and 18k yellow gold over silver wedding band with bead-set inverted diamonds, $1,675, all TAP by Todd PownellContinue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12
From TAP by Todd Pownell
"TAP by Todd Pownell is more than a jewelry collection. It's a statement that diamonds remain beautiful, even when they are set upside down. I love the way that each ring sparkles like a chandelier crystal! And the designer's raw, granular finishes make the stones shimmer even more brightly."
Assorted engagement rings handmade in 18k yellow gold, 14k white gold or palladium featuring inverted grey, cognac, yellow and natural color diamonds, from $2,465 to $14,000 each, all TAP by Todd PownellContinue to 6 of 12 below.
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From Erika Winters...
"Erika Winters was the 'Darling of Couture' this year. Everyone had meetings with her, absolutely adored her pieces, and fell in love with her as a person. Her attention to detail is unmatched (I used a magnifying glass to get a really close look!). Those shopping for an engagement ring should definitely put her on their short list."
FROM LEFT: One-of-a-kind 18k yellow gold and diamond Livia Halo engagement ring with a hexagonal-cut diamond center stone, $7,480; 18k yellow gold... and diamond Lois Halo engagement ring with a hexagonal-cut diamond center stone, $7,260, both Erika WintersContinue to 7 of 12 below.
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From Alex Sepkus
"Alex's design aesthetic melds his Lithuanian heritage and his love of the gardens at his home in New York City. When I see these rings, I picture an ancient Incan road made of stone. The smooth edges of the gems feel custom cut to nudge up next to each other."
ALEX SEPKUS RINGS, FROM TOP: 18k gold and diamond Monica Ring with a 4.42-carat Malaya Garnet center stone, $7,080, available at Chesterfield Jewelers; 18k gold and diamond Monica ring with a 3.43-carat tanzanite center stone,... $8,750, available at McCaskill & Company; 18k gold and diamond Ocean II ring with a 3.05-carat Malaya Garnet center stone, $6,250, available at Cecil’s Fine JewelryContinue to 8 of 12 below.
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From Erica Courtney...
"Erica Courtney is known for using bold colors, ornate sparkling settings, and frankly, the "juiciest" jewels! Her collection of Paraiba tourmaline styles includes stones that range in color from seafoam teal to electric neon blue (paraibas are rarer than diamonds.) The "Gorgeous & Engaged" collection is very popular with celebrities and brides-to-be because there is something for everyone."
FROM LEFT: 18k rose gold Annalise ring with violet spinels, diamonds and a... Malaya garnet center stone, $15,000, worn with two 18k rose gold and diamond Skinny bands, $850 each, and two 18k rose gold and diamond Ellen bands, $3,000 each. 18k yellow gold Annalise ring with Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines, diamonds and an African Paraiba tourmaline center stone, $33,000, worn between two 18k yellow gold Tiara bands with Brazilian Paraiba tourmalines and diamonds, $8.800 each. 18k rose gold Annalise ring with pink sapphires, diamonds and a pink sapphire center stone, $9,600, worn between two 18k rose gold Annalise bands with pink sapphires and diamonds, $4,800 each. 18k gold and diamond Cristina engagement ring, $7,500 (top), and 18k yellow gold and diamond Emily Ann engagement ring, $50,400 (bottom); all Erica Courtney.
Note: To purchase rings as shown, please call or use chat to inquire about availability, as all use one-of-a-kind stones.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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From Pamela Froman...
"Pamela Froman's entire Get Crushed line has one theme throughout: crushed metal in all its beauty. I appreciate the way she uses neutral-tone raw diamonds with bright accent stones (including more Paraibas!). Also cool: Some of her newest engagement rings use 'fantasy cut' gems from award-winning lapidaries."
FROM TOP: 18k white gold and diamond Ellie Solitaire ring with a light grey diamond center stone surrounded by Paraiba tourmalines, with two burnish-set diamond side... stones, $10,230. 18k white gold and diamond Scroll Crush engagement ring, $2,990 (setting only) worn between two 18k white gold and diamond Sweet Crush Guard rings, $1,320 each. 18K white and yellow gold Harlequin Solitaire engagement ring, $2,200 (setting only) worn between an 18k yellow gold and diamond Sweet Crush V ring, $1,450 and an 18k yellow and white crushed gold Harlequin Sparkle Stack ring with scattered diamonds, $2,090.18k white gold engagement ring with a 2.81-carat grey diamond center stone framed in diamonds and Paraiba tourmalines, $9,900, all Pamela Froman (email firstname.lastname@example.org to find the nearest retailer).Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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From Jennifer Dawes...
"Jennifer Dawes is 'OG Original Gangsta' of fair trade/sustainably-mined precious metals, diamonds, and colored stones. She has been at this since before it became 'cool' to do so. Her gentlemen's bands are all completely handmade in her Sonoma studio; the rose gold bands shown here have a rugged and industrial feel, and look great on olive skin tones (my husband wears a rose gold band and he gets compliments daily."Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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"I first discovered Kataoka Jewelry on instagram almost three years ago, and my life has never been the same since. Literally, I can't get enough of these painstakingly delicate and feminine designs. Yoshinobu Kataoka makes everything by hand in his Tokyo studio—I'm positive this master jeweler has to use a microscope to achieve the effect that is created. His work is perfect for brides wanting something completely different and will enjoy being asked constantly, 'Who made your... engagement ring?'"
Assorted custom-blended 18k recycled gold rings and wedding bands featuring white and pink diamonds, emeralds, blue sapphires and paraiba tourmalines, $1,980 to $19,980 each, all Kataoka JewelryContinue to 12 of 12 below.
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From Todd Reed...
"Raw elegance. Modern luxury. Timeless design. Those are just a few of the things that pop into my mind when I think of Todd Reed. Todd has also been at the forefront of using recycled precious metals in his work. He's a genius and you really have to admire and appreciate the artisans who handcraft each men's band, one by one, in his Venice Beach and Boulder studios."
FROM TOP: 18k yellow gold and palladium wedding band with 1.88 carats of raw diamond cubes, $4,400, and 18k yellow... gold wedding band with .115 carats of raw diamond cubes, $4,840, both Todd Reed