Solitaire is the French word for alone which is why it is the perfect description for a ring set with a single stone! Solitaires are one of the most classic and popular designs for engagement rings. Traditionally diamonds have been the most common choice for solitaire rings but in more recent time sapphires have become an increasingly more popular choice. With their enormous variety of colours and cuts a sapphire can prove to be a truly unique solitaire ring.
The history of the solitaire ring dates back to the Roman era but their popularity exploded in the 17th century when it became the setting of choice for larger stones. During this time coloured stones were set in gold while diamonds were set in silver to enhance their appearance (white gold and platinum were not yet available). The simplicity of the style has always helped show off the beauty of the stone. Settings have varied over the last 400 years with bezel and collect settings being popular in the 17th and 18th century while the claw setting we recognise as a solitaire setting today begun to be used in the Victorian era.
After the turn of the 20th Century white precious metals became the most popular metal used in jewellery with advancements in the ability to work with Platinum and the invention of white gold. Art Deco period solitaires were commonly diamonds set in white metal occasionally with a decorative engraved, filigree or pierce work crown beneath the stone. This period of jewellery was strong on aesthetics and decided the classic solitaire needed some fancying up!
Solitaires have remained the most popular style of engagement ring throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Popular stones include the classic round brilliant cut diamond, oval sapphires and even salt and pepper diamonds. Set in a variety of gold colours with four or six claws these rings will always have a timeless elegance. Their simplicity offers the option to get more creative with wedding bands and eternity rings which can have more embellishment or intricacy to create a more personalised look.
Langs Antiques – Rings Ancient to Neoclassical
Gem Society – Victorian Period Jewelry 1837-1860