Elegant Wedding: True Colors

Pick out big, brightly colored gemstones for a wedding-day style

Jeweler Linde Meyer unlocks a shiny case in her gallerylike store, Linde Meyer Platinum, Gold + Silver, in Center City. She opens the glass door, reaches in and removes a wide-banded ring of brushed, almost steely platinum set with a single dusty-rose spinel. Beneath the lamp, it reflects pure


Jeweler Linde Meyer unlocks a shiny case in her gallerylike store, Linde Meyer Platinum, Gold + Silver, in Center City. She opens the glass door, reaches in and removes a wide-banded ring of brushed, almost steely platinum set with a single dusty-rose spinel. Beneath the lamp, it reflects pure pink light.

“This,” says Meyer, “would make a wonderful engagement ring.”

It’s been a while since that must-we-name-her-again celebrity bride-not-to-be flashed a hand hung with a famously mammoth pink engagement rock. It took us those few years to get used to the idea of colors in bridal jewelry. Blue solitaires, green navettes, yellow crescents all sounded more like Lucky Charms than wedding-day jewelry.

But then we spied them — really, how could we not? Their gleaming, mineral hues shone in the cases of jewelry stores both cutting-edge and traditional. In some cases, colorful carats outnumbered traditional white stones. Resistance, we realized, would be impossible. We had to taste the rainbow.

FANCY-COLORED DIAMONDS

For traditional brides, the trend toward color is manifesting most in the prevalence of natural fancy-colored diamonds. Yellows, pinks, blues and even greens appeal to couples seeking, according to David Sach, diamond and stone buyer for Jack Kellmer Co., with several area locations, “diamonds for emotional reasons, but want something a little different.”

Of these four shades, yellow — sometimes called canary by consumers — is the most common and therefore the least expensive (approximately on par with white). Champagne to brown tones are available in a range of hues and saturations, from light to vivid.

Next in frequency are the pinks — often set into rose gold to enhance their innate blush — and then the much more rare blues. “A very fine-quality pink diamond of good color could, even in the one-carat size, easily exceed $100,000,” says Sach. “Blue diamonds could be certainly much more than that.”

And what about green? For a perfectly pure shade, think Harry Winston prices. Think modest Greek island.

Jewelers like Kellmer offset rising prices (caused by high demand decreasing the natural supply) by fashioning pieces of multiple smaller stones — like wedding bands with a row of alternating pink, yellow and white diamonds.

Those looking to invest in a single, singly colorful rock will likely find squarish stones. “They’ll often be princess-cut or radiant-cut, modified rectangular cuts which tend to show the true color of the stone best,” says Sach.

Settings and bands for most arrangements of pastel rocks tend to be simpler, which make centerpiece gems stand out. “People who are looking to put a more individual stamp on their engagement ring will often choose a fancy-colored diamond to go into a traditional mounting,” says Sach. Kellmer’s selection — an array of springtime tones — sits against a white background, just waiting for a modern-day Jackie O. or Grace Kelly to fall for the rings’ classic, striking beauty.

Jewelers are quick to point out, however, that no matter what its hue, a diamond is still a diamond: the most durable material known to humankind, a 10 out of 10 on Mohs’ scale of hardness.

BEYOND DIAMONDS

Second in durability are gems in the corundum family — such as sapphires and rubies — which rank a 9 out of 10 on the hardness scale. “Think of the Princess Diana ring,” says John D’Antonio, co-owner of Sansom Street’s D’Antonio & Klein Jewelers, “with that royal-blue sapphire in the center.”

Vincent Polisano, co-owner of Diana Vincent Jewelers, Designers, Platinumsmiths in Washington Crossing, says his shop, filled with his wife’s line, has long attracted shoppers looking for extraordinary pieces. “People come here that aren’t looking for the standard,” he says. “Pink has just exploded: pink sapphires with white diamonds are really strong, whereas blue sapphires with white diamonds is a very conservative, long-standing choice.”

Polisano mentions one woman in particular: “She came in with all the intention of buying a white diamond. Instead, she found a beautiful platinum ring with a beautiful color-changing sapphire that changed from deep purple to deep blue in different lights.”

Some non-diamond brides gravitate toward paler stones when it comes their rings or wedding-day jewelry. “If the dress is white, then virtually any color works with it,” says Harvey Rovinsky, owner of Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelry, with several area locations. “But I recommend pastels because it’s feminine and in keeping with the bridal moment. Pale blues, pale pinks: Anything that’s dark is too severe.”

Shopping outside the diamond box can also mean getting more stone for your buck. That dusty-rose spinel Linde Meyer showed off? “That one is $2,500,” she says. “A wonderful beginning price point — and much more exciting than a puny little diamond.”

“A sapphire can be one-fifth the price of a diamond,” says Dennis Klein, D’Antonio & Klein Jewelers’ other co-owner.

“And,” says D’Antonio, “a yellow sapphire has a similar warmth to that of a yellow diamond.”

Who chooses sapphires, spinel or iolite over a diamond? “Creative people,” says Meyer. “People who want to set themselves apart. People who do not want to wear a price tag on their hands. People who want, in this wonderful world of sameness, to be different. People who look at their jewelry as a mode of self-expression rather than something to be hung with. People who are very secure.”

But not all pretty colors make good choices for everyday wear on an engagement or wedding band. Tanzanite, emerald, opal, morganite: “All gorgeous, gorgeous, but soft stones,” says Klein, who steers his clients toward corundums.

ACCESSORIZING THE BRIDE

Brides who want to add a touch of tanzanite’s famous violet or a gleam of something blue to a wedding-day ensemble would be smart to add color in a necklace or earrings — pieces that won’t be worn every day, and don’t run the risk of being damaged by day-to-day activities. D’Antonio steers brides away from including softer stones in their rings, and holds up a custom pendant of delicate emeralds connected by a diamond bar. “But this, I am selling pieces like this.”

Bernie Robbins has invested heavily in serious bridal trimmings, too. “We have a huge Judith Ripka presence: Judith Ripka does color as well or better than anybody,” says Rovinsky. “The designs are very feminine — colors coordinated with the design of the gold. They’re making accessories for the bride, fabulous necklaces that are not inexpensive, but are really focused on the bridal market.”

Many jewelers warn, though, that when it comes to accessorizing your bridal look, a little color goes a long way. “A bride should glow from within,” says Meyer. “Don’t overdo it.”

So, think Audrey Hepburn, not Rainbow Brite — but whatever you do, keep your eyes open to the spectrum. “There’s a world of color out there,” says Klein, “You just have to be a little more daring to wear it as wedding jewelry.”