Ring shopping on Martha’s Vineyard

A hand-engraved 18k yellow gold and platinum engagement ring and wedding band. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

When we find the person we want to spend the rest of our life with, it is undeniably time to celebrate. The selection of engagement and wedding rings has become an important part of the celebration. The Vineyard’s jewelry stores, offering an abundance of distinctive, one-of-a-kind rings, can help make this exciting, significant, and sometimes painstaking experience fun.

An engagement ring symbolizes an amorous commitment, a promise of marriage between two people. Wedding rings are a symbol of fidelity representing a never-ending-love, much like the circle is an unbroken form. In marriage, two people promise their union will be unbroken.

According to Bridal Beauty and other publications, the diamond remains the most popular gemstone for both wedding and engagement rings. The word diamond comes from the Greek word “adamastos,” which means invincible. “How to Be an Ancient Greek” by Scoular Anderson confirms the Greeks in ancient times believed the gem had magical powers and that diamonds were tears of the gods that had fallen to earth.

While it seems the budget for engagement and wedding rings has more than tripled since I was given mine, some of today’s couples are especially selective in choosing their rings. Anna Cotton of Vineyard Haven recommends purchasing your wedding rings on the Island. “We got our wedding bands at Moonstone and they were amazing,” she said. “They also loaned me the jewelry I wore at my wedding.”

In reporting about trendy and new ring styles, it would be remiss not to mention tension-mount engagement rings or what some may call the mysterious floating diamond rings. One highlight of this type of ring is that they allow a great deal of light to reflect off the diamond when compared with traditional settings.

Another popular type of setting is the channel setting: where diamonds (or other gemstones of your choice) are arranged in a linear pattern and set into the band of the ring. There is a small ridge on each side of the band to hold the gemstones in place without the aid of prongs. These channel settings are becoming increasingly popular because the gemstones are protected from getting chipped or damaged. These new styles are covered in more details in last month’s issue of The Knot magazine or on theknot.com.

Another trend is customizing your own rings, rather than selecting what is available in the jeweler’s case. Kaysea Hart, who grew up on the Vineyard, chose an antique stone to have placed in a new setting. “We will do whatever the customer wants,” said Sarah York at CB Stark Jewelers in Vineyard Haven.

Suzie Pacheco, owner of Vintage Jewelry located at 53 Main Street in Edgartown, tells me she sells many engagement and wedding rings to Islanders and visitors alike. Her last ring sale was just last week. The antique “celebration” rings, now on display in the store, have price tags starting around $200.

The company Victoria Sterling, importers of Victorian jewelry from Europe, confirms the popularity of antique rings as wedding band or engagement ring is growing, according to the website. The aged ring captures a sense of longevity and offers a bit of history to the celebration. The older stones were cut with deep facets lending depth to the stone and making them particularly bright and beautiful in candlelight.

It’s no surprise that greenyour.com tells us that in 2011 more consumers are choosing to decorate their own or their partner’s ring finger with conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold settings. If this is your choice, do not expect to pay more for this socially conscious choice. There are many different factors (carat, color, clarity, and cut) that will increase the cost of a diamond but being conflict-free is not usually one of them. Conflict-free diamonds are guaranteed to originate from socially ethical and environmentally responsible sources. I was told all diamonds from CB Stark are conflict-free.

There are countless options for brides and grooms who think outside the traditional jewelry box. Offering a unique look as well as an affordable price, semi-precious gemstone rings are gaining popularity according to radfordauctions.com and The Green Book magazine.

One may want to consider an aquamarine engagement ring. What better gemstone to choose for an engagement ring than one that represents optimism, wellbeing, and faithfulness? After all, diamonds are not for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a custom ring designed just for you, or to have your grandmother’s diamond (or one that you bought on eBay) placed in a shiny new setting, on Martha’s Vineyard you will find jewelers to assist you and a varied assortment of exquisite, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind rings available to choose from the fine jewelry stores located here.

A side note: Did you ever wonder why one wears his/her wedding ring on the fourth finger?

It is because it is believed the vein of love runs in a direct line from the ring finger to the heart.

Freelance writer Veronika Fulk, a clinical hypnotherapist, lives in Oak Bluffs.