How Engagement Ring Shopping Has Changed Over the Past Decade

Who What Wear is turning 10 this year! To celebrate our #WWW10 milestone, we’re looking back at the past decade of style.

Saying “I do” to an engagement ring is a milestone we can’t image fading away anytime soon, but over the past ten years exactly what that engagement ring looks like has shifted. While classic styles continue to remain popular, slowly but surely, fresh settings and stones have emerged on top as a new generation of women is starting to think about walking down the aisle. Chalk it up to the upward age shift in marriage, or a move toward more individualized, unique styles, but over the past decade, we’ve seen a few strong patterns emerge when it comes to engagement rings.

To dive further into it all, we tapped a handful of trusted experts to weigh in on exactly what’s going on with engagement rings. From the rise of online shopping to the cuts, colors, and styles that have risen to the top, consider this a lesson in the recent history of engagement rings, straight from those who know best. Whether you’re in the market for a sparkler or not, we found it all fascinating, and think you will too.

Read on to learn more about how engagement ring trends have changed in the past decade, then shop a few current must-have styles!

1. Individuality

One major trend noted over the past decade is individuality. “There has been a huge shift in the market recently, with a large amount of customers looking for something unique and different,” says Sindur McRedmond, director of jewelry and gemology at Everything But the House. While traditional settings remain popular, shoppers are looking for rings that feel special to them.

Pearl feels precious, but unexpected.

2. Risk Taking

As women embrace their individual tastes, another trend that has emerged among those shopping for engagement rings is that they’re more adventurous about the types of stones, and the colors of both gems and metals. “Many customers choose a unique, colorful stone that holds personal meaning for them,” notes Beth Gerstein, co-CEO of Brilliant Earth.

As to why there has been a shift over time, some attribute it to a new generation beginning to tie the knot. James Allen co-founder Michele Sigler says, “We’ve seen a lot more interest in sapphires, fancy-color diamonds, and fancy shapes. Younger buyers are definitely expressing their individuality in their engagement ring choices.”

Ah, a simple blue that goes with anything.

3. Looking to the Past

Another major trend in engagement rings that has emerged over the past decade is a resurgence in vintage or retro-inspired engagement rings. “The workmanship on a piece of vintage jewelry is truly a work of art. Every single filigree design was handmade and that level of craftsmanship just doesn’t exist today,” McRedmond says. Gerstein adds, “Vintage details reimagined in contemporary settings,” while describing of-the-moment styles. 

Durland Co. Estate Art Deco Ring ($22,000)

An estate ring you'll never part with.

4. Rise of the Oval

The jewelers we talked to all agreed, solitaires have continued to be a popular choice among brides, but the shape of choice has changed since 2006. “Ovals are in high demand as well at the moment,” says Michael Lebowitz, director of Jewelry at WP Diamonds. The “fancy” oval shape (as described by both Sigler and Gerstein) has come to be a favorite among current shoppers. Says McRedmond, “an oval shape is the new modern classic.”

5. Online Shopping

With the rise of the internet, anything can be purchase online, including an engagement ring. “We’ve seen double-digit sales growth every year, ten years counting,” says Sigler. Though a big ticket item may seem like an intimidating online purchase, Gerstein notes that consumers are comfortable, especially if it’s a “brand they trust.” So, while some may still want to see the ring in person, shoppers aren’t afraid to purchase a ring from a brand they feel confident about.

A cool ring you’ll treasure forever.

Want more engagement ring inspiration? These are the styles that blew up on instagram!