Color Schemes

White gets all the attention on your wedding day, unless you've decided on something nontraditional, the gown, the veil and usually the clear, sparkling diamond on the engagement ring will all be glorious shades of white. But what if you’re a show-stopping drama queen with a passion for flair?

WHITE GETS ALL THE ATTENTION ON YOUR WEDDING DAY. UNLESS YOU’VE decided on something nontraditional, the gown, the veil and usually the clear, sparkling diamond on the engagement ring will all be glorious shades of white. But what if you’re a show-stopping drama queen with a passion for flair? Or what if you prefer brightness to a blank slate? The right gems and jewelry can add a splash of color to an otherwise pale wedding palette. Whether they’re adorning your finger, wrapping around your wrist or hanging from a pair of dangly earrings, bold hues are back in weddings—most notably on the bride herself.

Beyond Diamonds

WHEN SOUTH BOSTON RESIDENT JOHN Pullen started shopping for an engagement ring for his bride-to-be Erin Anderson, he’d already gotten the word from her: No big diamonds. That suited Pullen just fine since he was working with a limited budget. Anderson, an opera singer, had previously worked in the jewelry business and was aware of the expense of buying a diamond ring. Plus, her jewelry box had always been filled with large, colorful pieces and she wanted the engagement bauble, one she knew she’d be wearing for life, to follow suit. “It was hard not getting her a diamond—this is an engagement ring after all,” says Pullen. “But in the end she ended up with an estate piece that she likes much more.” He found it at The E.B. Horn Company in Boston: Four rubies, pave set (cobbled stones laid down close together) with 83 small diamonds.

E.B. Horn manager Richard Finn says Anderson is just one of the growing number of brides requesting more vibrant stones on engagement rings. “Diamonds are still king,” he says, especially in a town as conservative as Boston. “But when people are choosing alternatives, the first stone they migrate towards is the sapphire, far and away,” he says. “It’s the most popular alternative [to a diamond] because it comes in a range of choices.” Though most brides opt for blue, the stone also is available in several glimmering shades of pink and even yellow.

Rubies follow as a close second, and Finn has noticed that Boston brides are choosing colored stones for a variety of reasons, simply from a love of the color—like the sapphire’s “conservative elegance”—to just wanting a little more stone for their money when working with limited funds.

Joshua Gann, co-owner of Joseph Gann Jewelers in Boston, sells a range of loose and set sapphires in many colors and shapes, but says he’s recently seen couples shopping for aquamarine stones, which are a shade of pale blue. “It’s actually from the same stone family as the emerald so you do have to be a little more careful with it. It’s simply a softer stone,” says Gann. (Sapphires, meanwhile, are right behind diamonds in terms of strength and durability.) As with any gemstone, if scratched or damaged, sapphire or aquamarine stones should be polished.

Customized for You

Alyssa Davis, assistant manager at Lux Bond & Green’s Boston store says most settings she has seen include diamonds. “Men usually choose three round stones with the middle stone in color and diamonds on either side,” she says. Platinum and gold bands are most popular no matter what gem you choose, but she says that when someone selects rubies, she even recommends setting the stone into yellow-gold prongs atop a platinum band with diamonds on either side. “I think they look better paired with that added color and a few diamonds,” she says. Finn says he gets requests to set these alternative stones as solitaires, but it’s rare because diamonds can really liven up a setting.

At Shreve, Crump & Low in Boston, buyer Cathy Cronin thinks the trend is coming back because brides are returning to more classic, estate-like settings. “Many brides are requesting to see loose stones and setting them in estate, antique or refabricated jewelry,” she says. “It’s a look you see in older pieces from the ’40s and ’50s, many of which had natural sapphires as the stones.” In fact, more shoppers are requesting to see loose sapphires so they can consider the weight, color intensity and clarity, just as they would with diamonds, to determine if the stones work with the setting they choose. “It can be a much more customized process these days,” Cronin says.

Jeweler Don Cirone took over 25-year-old Cohasset Jewelers from his father, and says the way men shop for engagement rings could explain why these stones are more popular: A larger percent of men are shopping with their fiancees or carrying explicit instructions on what to get. “Ten or 15 years ago, we never saw the woman get involved. But now, men are coming in with their brides, or with instructions,” he says. Jewelers like Cohasset love to play with color in their custom work as well, and if you’re dead-set on diamonds, they come in several fancy colors, such as Cirone’s specialty, canary. With the wealth of options available in color, he advises brides-to-be who are helping shop for their own rings to be very honest about what they want—either go to the store with your groom-to-be and point something out or describe what you want in detail. Otherwise, show him a photo and let him shop on his own. “When a guy does it right, he’s always very proud of the final product,” says Cirone.

Accessorizing the Bride

OF COURSE, COLOR CAN APPEAR IN OTHER parts of the wedding-day jewelry, too. Alternative-stone wedding bands are popping up a lot, says Finn. “Women are choosing guard rings or eternity bands that are very small and thin that can be worn on either side of the engagement ring,” he says. And when it comes to these tiny rings, there are plenty of options to choose from.

At Joseph Gann, brides are picking up vivid pendants to wear with their dresses. Gann recommends garnet or blue topaz, which are bold complements to the bridesmaids’ dresses. And these days, there are many requests for earrings that match the bridesmaids’ dresses as well—both for the bride and her maids to wear. “I just helped outfit a wedding party with several pairs of peridot earrings that match the bridesmaids’ dresses. That minty green is a popular color and people like it a lot,” he says. For brides, necklaces are more simple than earrings or bracelets, because, he says, “they all want to enhance their gorgeous necklines.”

Wherever you choose to add color, Davis reminds you to consider the decision carefully, especially in regards to durability. “It’s a little more of a risk to pick out a piece of jewelry that you might wear forever,” she says. So stick to something you feel comfortable with and, more importantly, that makes you feel beautiful.