Rock solid

December 8, 2003

Echoing the popular lyric, this pear-shaped diamond engagement ring from Hammerman represents a couple's lasting commitment.

The dress is stored away, never to be worn again. The flowers live on only in the photographs.

What remains as bright now as the day you were married is your wedding jewelry, still catching the light in a special way, reminding you again that it symbolizes permanency and commitment.

While you should keep that permanency in mind when selecting wedding or engagement jewelry, also be aware that your choices can be inventive and original.

Traditional shapes such as round and square cuts continue to be popular, but more unusual cuts - hearts, teardrops, pears, oval, cushion, marquise and more - are being chosen often enough to be dubbed the ‘‘new classics,’’ according to the Diamond Information Center, information arm of DeBeers.

‘‘Fancy shape diamonds are the hottest bridal jewelry trend of the moment, with more and more brides wanting to select pieces that reflect their personal style,’’ said Sally Morrison, DIC director.

Take for example the teardrop or oval solitaires (about $18,500) in rings from Hammerman. The company also offers a charming heart-shape stone as a pendant (about $7,500).

Most of these shapes can be found at Fortunoff stores, but also on offer is something slightly different, but still classic: an art deco-inspired platinum engagement ring ($1,995) with a round center diamond, framed with square-cut sapphires and corner accent diamonds.

The somewhat squared Lucida diamond cut has become a recent mainstay at Tiffany & Co., with platinum engagement rings ranging from $2,060 to $1,000,000. Companion bands ($6,300-$12,500) feature Lucida stones channel-set in platinum. Channel-set diamond bands also show up in some of Tiffany’s classic round solitaires ($2,630 to $119,200).

The wedding and engagement ring combinations ($276-$4,110 in 14K gold; $360-$5,338 in 18K gold; $655-$5,942 in platinum) from Ze Bridal almost look like one piece of jewelry. Designer Jill Zvaigzne creates this effect by clustering tiny diamonds alongside or under the solitaire stone - a sort of nesting effect between the two rings. She also tucks a surprise inside the rings: a tiny ‘‘secret’’ diamond.

Jewelry designer Harout Ritani offers yet more variations on the traditional themes. One of her Royal Crown platinum engagement rings ($2,840 for the mounting alone, added to the cost of the choice of center diamond) elevates the solitaire atop a bridge of channel-set diamonds. For a period art deco look, she offers her Endless Love design (about $6,220, also for the mounting alone), in which she frames a center round diamond with a circlet of pave diamonds, and yet more diamonds set in the band.

The precious gifts don’t stop with the engagement and wedding bands. The bride and groom typically exchange additional jewelry gifts, and they offer still others to the members of the wedding, according to the Jewelry Information Center, an industry group. ‘‘Giving loved ones gifts of fine jewelry and watches for weddings shows them how much you appreciate them,’’ said Amanda Berg, JIC spokeswoman.

Gold ‘‘charm cake’’ mementoes for attendants - a gold charm costing perhaps $50-$100 and presented atop a cake at a rehearsal dinner or shower - are currently popular, according to the World Gold Council, another industry group. The group also suggests gold ID bracelets or designer cuff links as a gift for the groom from the bride.

A really status gift for the bride or any member of the wedding would be one of Cathy Carmendy’s platinum or 20K gold monogram bracelets ($5,000-$10,000 in gold, $8,000-$12,000 in platinum) or necklace pendants ($1,500 in 20K gold, $2,000 in platinum). These lacy script-like initials are laid back but elegant, some versions sprinkled with diamonds.

Associated Press