Floral Engagement Rings: History, Style, and Shopping Guide
Angelica Frey | August 23, 2023
Angelica Frey | August 23, 2023
With its starburst and symmetrical shape, flowers are among the nature-inspired motifs that have inspired jewelry and the design of engagement rings for centuries. In jewelry design, a floral shape can be as simple as a center stone encircled by smaller stones or as elaborate as a brooch featuring elaborate metalwork and a distinct separation between stalk, leaves, and petals.
In the case of engagement rings, a floral motif or shape can add an element of ornamentation that is versatile enough to remain timeless and classic, while also harnessing the unique faceting pattern of certain diamond shapes.
What Is a Floral Engagement Ring?
A floral engagement ring is a style of engagement ring featuring a flower-shaped setting. A halo engagement ring is a variation of a floral engagement ring. In fact, a Victorian-era floral engagement ring could be as simple as a center stone (a diamond or a colored gemstone) encircled by a number of small, but not pavé set diamonds.
Other rings combine a center diamond with leaf or petal-shaped metal work on either side. It’s a style that is both timeless and vintage-inspired, as floral motifs have been employed again and again throughout jewelry history, and, as a symbol, they’re universal enough to defy trends.
History of Floral Engagement Rings
Floral engagement rings were popular during the Victorian (1837-1901), Edwardian (1901-1915) and Art Deco era (1919-1939). The Victorian era saw the popularity of cluster designs (one center stone, encircled by a number of smaller stones), and of settings whose prongs were designed to resemble petals, especially tulips. Queen Victoria herself was given a sapphire and diamond brooch as a wedding present, and it had a design that we would then see in rings.
The Victorian era is also when diamond engagement rings started becoming more and more popular. The discovery of diamond mines in South Africa made them more available even to the middle class. Despite the discovery of these mines, though, the Old Mine cut diamond remained the most popular shape for center stones in engagement rings.
In the Edwardian era, the floral motifs became more intricate and ethereal thanks to techniques such as filigree, milgraining and decorative hand piercing. This was a direct influence of the Art Nouveau cultural movement, with its emphasis on free-flowing, undulated lines, which was also directly observed in nature (e.g. in vines, some types of leaves). During the Art Deco period, the flower-shaped details become either more geometric or they are influenced by Eastern traditions.
What Is Biomimicry in Design?
Biomimicry refers to the design practice of taking cues from the natural world to design products that are expected to have a net positive impact to the environment or won’t harm it. One early example can be found in Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus is said to have incorporated an old olive tree that was growing on his plot of land in the house that he builds, and the trunk also doubles as bed post, forming one of the bed’s legs.
A contemporary example is the Beijing National Stadium, which was designed to resemble a bird’s nest both aesthetically ad in the way birds used filler materials to create insulation: in fact, it also used materials such as ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) panels infilled between the steel gaps that offer shelter from the elements and soundproofing. This concept incorporates biomimicry by mimicking how birds fill the nest with twigs and other collected materials to create insulation.
Biomimicry is not to be confused with biomorphism, which refers to designs that emulate the shapes found in nature on a purely aesthetic level. Biomorphism characterizes art movements such as Art Nouveau and Surrealism. The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, for example, features columns made to resemble tree branches, and the Casa Batlló in Barcelona bears some resemblance with the skeleton of a mythical creature. The influence of Art Nouveau and Surrealism remains to this day. More recent examples include The Baha’i house of Worship The Lotus Temple, notable for resembling a blooming lotus.
Biomimicry in Jewelry
Biomimicry cannot exactly be applied to jewelry design, as jewelry does not have practical purposes that can result in a net-positive benefit for nature as a whole. Biomorphism, however, has defined the last eras of jewelry, especially the Victorian (the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901) Edwardian (1901-1915) and Art Deco (1919-1939) eras.
“There isn’t a distinctive end of one period and beginning of another when it comes to jewelry eras, so you’ll see that several time periods will have trends that extend throughout,” explains Grace Taylor, VRAI’s Senior Director of Sales and CX. “Queen Victoria (Victorian era) was deeply mourning the loss of her beloved husband, and found that the typical “mourning jewelry” of the time was too macabre for her taste, so she had pieces created that featured more nature motifs and hearts rather than skulls.”
The Edwardian era pieces feature a lot of intricate metalwork, including milgrain and filigree, which lend themselves to motifs like vines. Interestingly even Art Deco jewelry still featured nature-inspired designs, despite its penchant for verticality and geometric shapes. “Art Deco era pieces have some of the influence of Art Nouveau, but are more geometrically influenced,” says Taylor. “You’ll see bolder shapes and bright colored gemstones featured heavily in Art Deco pieces.”
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What Diamond Shapes Work Best With a Floral-Inspired Setting?
Floral engagement rings are a style that’s both distinctive and versatile. Floral engagement rings featuring VRAI created diamonds come either with a sleek four-prong, petal-shaped setting (The Classic Petal Engagement Ring) or with ornate petal-shaped pieces of metalwork that flank the center stone (The Signature Floral Oval). Some diamond shapes can highlight the nature-inspired look and feel of those settings. “I love Pear, Marquise, and Round diamonds in floral-inspired settings,” says Taylor. “There’s something about the natural curvature of those shapes that really work well with floral pieces”
Our Cut for You process has a few more options. “A Heart is a great option— and a wink towards that Victorian era mourning style— as is a Harmonia, which has a naturally floral feeling faceting pattern, or Round Rose cut which is a vintage style of cutting diamond!”
If you want to steer clear of the vintage-inspired feel of floral engagement rings, choosing simpler styles like the Classic Petal is a great way to take floral inspiration without going deeply vintage. “The petal shaped prongs are just a wink towards nature-inspired,” says Taylor. “Pairing a floral inspired engagement ring with a more modern shaped wedding band is another option, or vice versa.”
What Bands Can I Pair With a Floral Engagement Ring?
When pairing a wedding band to a floral engagement ring, you can either opt to match the nature-inspired style of the engagement ring with a similar level of ornamentation, or offset it with a sleek, domed band. The Dew Drop ring features an array of pavé set VRAI created diamonds on a V-shaped band to resemble a crown of dewdrops on your engagement ring. The Petal Crown band is a V-shaped band with petal-like metalwork details embellished with pavé-set diamonds. The Single Shared Prong Band has an array of VRAI created diamonds that appear to float on a single shared-prong setting.
What Are VRAI Created Diamonds?
VRAI created diamonds are lab diamonds grown in our certified zero-emission foundries, powered by 100% renewable energy. All VRAI created diamonds are no mining, no human toll, no emission, no guilt because you are guaranteed to know the origin. Lab grown diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to mined diamonds. This reduces the cost of lab created diamonds giving you more carats for less.