/ by Jennifer Dennis / photography by Eli Warren

Selecting an engagement ring is a long-lasting purchase decision for a couple. One of the first things to consider is selecting the type of stone. Should it be traditional or embrace some¬thing? As it turns out, what Americans think of as traditional when it comes to engagement rings depends on how far you look back.

In the early 1900s, De Beers launched a very successful marketing campaign that transformed our opinion on the use of diamonds in engagement rings. Diamonds have now become a mainstay in engage¬ment ring trends, but prior to that, any precious stone was considered engage¬ment ring material.

There is now a resurgence of popularity for colored-stone engagement rings espe¬cially each time a celebrity or public fig¬ures steps out wearing one, from Jackie Kennedy’s diamond and emerald combi¬nation to Princess Dianna’s sapphire and diamond halo (now worn by Kate Middleton) to Carrie Underwood’s yellow diamond.

A second decision involves the age of the jewelry. You may be intrigued by the opportunity to purchase an estate piece, a ring previously owned, with history and some age. For those who appreciate antique (at least 100 years old) or vintage styles (decades old), this is an avenue for owning what would typically be a very unique ring without working through the design process or be the lucky recipient of a ring handed down within a family.

Couples can also commission a custom setting to include new or heirloom stones creating a one-of-a-kind piece, transform¬ing an estate piece into something that fits a bride’s personality. Angela Cox Zion, a Greenville-based photographer, trusted Ponthieux’s Jewelry Design Studio with her imagined design. “My husband, Michael, was really close to his grand¬mother,” she says. “It was very special for us to work together, re-imagining her dia¬monds in a new setting. Ponthieux’s cre¬ated exactly what we wanted.”

Embracing a ring design or style with a long history can be the perfect symbol for a long-lasting relationship. This is jewelry that will be worn daily and there really is no wrong decision when it’s the ring that you love, just many beautiful, striking options.

1. Heirloom diamonds set into art deco design in14kt gold, setting by Ponthieux’s, commissioned by Michael and Angela Zion.

2. Oval cut 5.71ct morganite set in 14kt rose gold, featuring three rows of pave set diamonds in a floral motif.

3. Estate cushion cut 3.2ct sapphire in platinum, with old European cut diamonds, early 1900s, Smithworks Fine Jewelry.

4. Estate square emerald cut 2.1ct ruby in platinum, surrounded by old European cut diamonds, early 1900s, Smithworks Fine Jewelry.

5. Round opaque rose cut 1.05ct yellow diamond in 18kt gold, matching yellow diamond wedding band, Llyn Strong Fine Art Jewelry.

6. Oval faceted 1.2ct Brazilian Paraiba tourma¬line in 18kt rose gold, surrounded by 58 diamonds, custom designed for Sydney Strong, Llyn Strong Fine Art Jewelry.

7. Estate ring in 14kt white gold, seven stones in rectangular design surrounded by diamonds in a bead and bright setting, Smithworks Fine Jewelry.