Top 9 Non-Traditional, Timeless Engagement Rings: A Shopping and Styling Guide

Angelica Frey | May 18, 2023

Angelica Frey | May 18, 2023

The definition of non-traditional engagement rings changes based on who you ask: for some, it’s anything that does not fit in the solitaire or three-stone style. Others see the orientation of an elongated diamond shape, also known as “east west” setting, as a break from tradition. Diamond shapes that go beyond the standard “brilliant cut” and “step cut” binary are also seen as non-traditional. Another factor that impacts the definition of “non-traditional” engagement ring is the time period. What we now deem as non-traditional is not what people in the 1980s, or in the 1890s did.

Considering that an engagement ring is a piece of jewelry that, ideally, you would wear for the rest of your life, the best engagement ring is going to be the one that suits your style. Anything that will withstand trends and merge with your own aesthetic through the decades will be timeless. Book an appointment with our experts to find your engagement ring.

What makes an Engagement Ring “non-traditional”?

What makes an engagement ring non-traditional depends on the shape of the stone and/or the type of setting. However, something that we refer to as “non-traditional” depends on the historical period we live in. Currently, for example, the Toi et Moi, a two-stone engagement ring with diamonds of two different shapes, is considered non-traditional, but it was actually popularized by Empress Josephine in the early 19th century. “Because trends are constantly changing, the definition of non-traditional does as well,” says Grace Taylor, VRAI’s Chief of Sales and Customer Experience. “At this point, even something like a bezel set center stone, which used to be the only way to set a diamond in a ring, feels somewhat non-traditional.”

On the other hand, the Princess Cut diamond, which looks timeless and classic, was actually devised as an ultramodern cut in the early 1960s. In addition, more and more jewelry houses now have their own in-house cuts, which combine timelessness and innovation.

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What Makes an Engagement Ring Traditional?

When it comes to engagement rings, terms like “traditional” and “classic” are synonymous. All designs that focus on the stone and have sleek settings can be considered traditional. A solitaire setting and a three-stone setting are a good example of a traditional engagement ring.

What are the most well known Non-Traditional Engagement Ring Styles?

In the 21st century, the most well known non-traditional engagement ring styles have at least one of the following characteristics: a center diamond in a particular shape, a setting that plays with asymmetry and negative space, and the combination of metals of different colors. Some of VRAI’s most notable non-traditional engagement rings include the Toi et Moi, the Double Band, the V shaped ring, and the Hover. Non-traditional engagement rings exist in all styles, including solitaires, vintage-inspired, and modern.

Top 3 Non-Traditional Solitaire Engagement Rings

While a solitaire might be the embodiment of traditional style, combining a shape different from the Round Brilliant diamond with ornate bands, or employing settings with bands focussing on geometry can create a unique reinterpretation of a timeless classic. Consider a Pear in an East-West setting, a Trillion set on a band featuring channel-set Baguettes, or a bold Emerald diamond set on a single-shared-prong band.

Pear East West
Trillion, Channel set with Baguette
Single Shared Prong Emerald

Top 3 Vintage Inspired Non-Traditional Engagement Rings

Vintage-inspired engagement rings are quintessentially non-traditional because they celebrate styles that have not been widely seen for decades. Vintage-inspired settings, however, are not just time capsules, but are the basis for a timeless heirloom. Toi et Moi rings are one of the most notable examples, and they come in a variety of combinations:

Emerald and Pear
Round and Pear
Round and Oval

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Top 3 Modern Non-Traditional Engagement Rings

Modern designs sleekly focus on metalwork and on negative space, making the engagement rings look like pieces of modern and post-modern abstract art. The Double Band is a solitaire featuring two stacked bands creating a look of unity and strength. The V harnesses the dip on VRAI’s V band to elegantly nestle a diamond, a style that flatters all diamond shapes, both symmetrical and elongated. Similarly, the Hover subverts the rules of symmetry for a sophisticated ring that is, in all, a wearable artwork.

Double Band Engagement Ring
Signature V Engagement Ring
Hover Engagement Ring

Top 3 Non-Traditional Budget-Friendly Engagement Rings

Breaking with tradition also means not being compelled to turn an engagement ring into an investment purchase, regardless of one’s income.
A bezel baguette with a dainty band, a Pavé ring set in a Navette-shaped pattern, or the flower-shaped Perennial ring, are all budget-friendly rings with a focus on craftsmanship and heirloom quality. Just be aware, though, that these rings have thinner bands, which makes them more fragile, and won’t come with VRAI’s Lifetime Care package.

Bezel Baguette
Pavé Cluster Ring
Perennial Ring

What Is a Non-Traditional Wedding Band?

A non-traditional wedding band is a wedding band that combines the sleekness of a band with the wow factor of an engagement ring. They tend to be bolder styles with a thicker band and with a focus on diamonds that can be worn on their own or on another finger. “We tend towards the more timeless in our wedding ring collection,” says Grace Taylor, VRAI’s Chief of Sale and Consumer Experience. “You can definitely do a band stack instead of wedding ring and Engagement Ring,” Taylor continues. “That is absolutely a nontraditional approach that many people really love.”

Top 3 Non-Traditional Wedding Bands

Bolder wedding bands can be stacked for an elegant, timeless, yet unexpected look. Featuring U prong settings, VRAI’s eternity wedding band can have a total carat weight of up to 6.5 carats. The Tetrad features a 5.30 mm band and four diamonds weighing 0.25 carat each. The Oval Five Stone combines brilliance and symmetry.

The Eternity Band
Tetrad Ring
Five Stone Band

Are There Non-Traditional Diamond Shapes?

There’s a whole world beyond the standard Round, Oval, Emerald, Asscher, Pear, Marquise, Radiant, and Princess. VRAI’s Cut For You process allows you to choose from 30 cuts and shapes, both storied (such as the Rose Cut and the Heart Shape) and in-House exclusives (such as the Capri, the Fusion, and the Harmonia).

Shop Non-Traditional Engagement Rings with Our Experts

Whether you love traditional or nontraditional approaches to your engagement ring, whatever you end up picking is bound to be a timeless choice. Our experts can help with any questions on diamond education, styling, and metalwork.

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