The Golden Age of Hollywood brought us legendary film stars, unforgettable movies, and many of the most iconic celebrities ever to exist. The famous figures of this era were not just adored for their work, but for their dazzling, pioneering sense of style too. As well as continuing to influence present-day fashion trends, the glamor of Hollywood’s Golden Age is also influencing many of today’s brides-to-be when they choose their engagement rings.
“Modern brides are rejecting the Instagram influencers and popular celebrities who align themselves with jewelry brands,” Guy Burton, director of Hancocks London, recently told Professional Jeweller. Now, he says, they are “more likely to cite the original and authentic Hollywood trendsetters such as Mia Farrow, Jayne Mansfield, Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall when designing their dream ring.”
Given that we’re now decades past these actresses’ heyday, it could be tricky to find an off-the-shelf ring that accurately emulates this period. However, you can immediately solve this problem by opting for a bespoke engagement ring. As jewelers Taylor & Hart note, customized pieces of jewelry allow you to “create almost whatever you want by merging your favorite elements of different style eras.”
If you’d like an engagement ring fit for a classic Hollywood starlet, here are three key trends to consider in your design.
- Emerald cut diamonds
Perhaps the two most famous engagement rings of Hollywood’s Golden Age were worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, and both featured beautiful emerald cut diamonds. Taylor was engaged a whopping ten times during her lifetime, so was presented with plenty of breathtaking jewelry. However, the most iconic of her engagement rings was the one given to her by third husband Mike Todd in 1956, featuring a huge 29.4-carat emerald cut diamond. The actress fondly referred to it as her “ice skating ring” and continued to wear it in the years after Todd tragically died in a plane crash. It was for this reason that her next husband, Eddie Fisher, opted to give her an engagement bracelet instead.
As for Grace Kelly, only a ring fit for a princess would have sufficed. Though her husband Prince Rainier of Monaco originally proposed with a simple ruby and emerald eternity band, he later treated her to a more extravagant token of his love. Kelly’s second engagement ring was a spectacular 10.5-carat emerald cut diamond with a baguette diamond on either side of the center stone.
- Elegant simplicity
As glamorous as the actresses of this era were, not all of them wore rings as in-your-face as Taylor and Kelly did. One of Marilyn Monroe’s most famous moments was her performance of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the song’s title certainly ringing true in her then-fiancé Joe DiMaggio’s proposal. The ring, which went up for auction in December 2011, featured 35 baguette diamonds set in platinum, showing that you could have plenty of sparkle without a gigantic center stone, thereby evoking understated elegance.
Another simple but effective ring was worn by Lauren Bacall when she married Humphrey Bogart in 1945. This pared-back piece was far more minimal than Taylor and Kelly’s, featuring only a colored gemstone, set on a particularly wide band. Although both of these examples were technically wedding bands, chic and delicate designs like these are also perfect for engagement rings.
- Quirky twists
Some Hollywood legends were ahead of their time when it came to engagement rings. Take Audrey Hepburn, for example, and the three-part stacked design chosen by husband Mel Ferrer. This included a yellow gold band, a rose gold band, and a white gold band with diamonds, all of which could be mixed and matched. While this look wasn’t especially common back in the 1950s, the stackable engagement ring trend is now hugely popular with brides-to-be.
Another option is to steer clear of diamonds, emeralds, and other typical gemstones altogether, in favor of something a bit more unusual. Vincente Minnelli did just that when he gave Judy Garland an engagement ring featuring a pink pearl set in onyx. Even if you are taking inspiration from the Hollywood greats, Hepburn and Garland show that thinking outside the box can be very rewarding. Don’t be afraid to explore quirky twists that could make your ring more unique.