Shea Ketti Amiruddin of Baldwin describes herself as a minimalist who rarely wears jewelry. But she makes an exception for her engagement ring, a laboratory-derived yellow diamond in a rose gold setting, and wedding band, which features channel-set emeralds and a Latin engraving -- Da Mi Basia Mille -- translated to "Kiss me a million times."
"I know that no one really has anything like my combination of rings," she says. "It's really special to me."
Amiruddin is one of many brides who are opting for unusual engagement rings, trading in the traditional round-cut diamond solitaire for gems like sapphire, morganite and garnet, and the standard Tiffany setting and platinum band for an alternative design or metal.
Kim Heidenreich, co-founder of Trumpet & Horn, an online vintage jewelry store that specializes in engagement rings, has seen this trend play out. When the store launched in 2013, "we thought that our authentic vintage platinum and traditional diamond rings would be the first to sell," she says. But that wasn't the case.
"We quickly discovered that one-of-a kind, unusual vintage rings were more desirable to our audience. Yellow gold, mixed metals and eclectic shapes with combined stone types are definitely the most popular."
Amiruddin, 35, a master educator at Dermalogica Academy, a Manhattan-based school that trains skin care therapists, married Alexander, 39, a special-needs teacher, on June 29 at the Bailey Arboretum in Lattingtown, with a reception at The Garden City Hotel. But back before they were engaged, Shea Ketti Drasser knew that she "didn't want your traditional-style diamond and platinum" ring, and did want a bezel setting -- a smooth metal prong-less rim -- due to her line of work.
Alexander complied ... and then some.
In October 2012, he proposed with a ring he'd designed with freelance jeweler George Reynolds, a friend.
"I love my ring," Shea Ketti says. "I still, to this day, will just look at it and be amazed with how beautiful I think it is."
And it's not just about the beauty. The man-made diamond is ethically made and "was specially designed for me," she says. "It's a statement of who I am."
An updated heirloom
When Cory Tambourine, 35, a CUNY mechanical engineering student from Brooklyn, proposed to Hannah Ratzlaff, now 31, he presented her with an updated version of his great-grandmother's ring.
He kept the setting -- an antique style bridge with a white-gold band -- and replaced the original stone with an Andalusite, which he thought Hannah would love.
What sets the stone apart, Hannah says, is that it "changes color depending on the light. Sometimes, it's gray, brown, purple or green."
Although it was tough trying to find a wedding band that matches her engagement ring, it was worth the struggle, she says. She ended up selecting a thin, white gold band that lets the gemstone keep the spotlight.
"It is very fitting to my personal style," she said.
They were married at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset on Oct. 5.
When Timothy Legg, 30, a set builder at the Cocoa Village Playhouse in Florida, asked Lisa-Marie Rhodes, 26, a vocalist and hairstylist originally from Wantagh, what type of engagement ring she desired, she had no idea.
"I liked a few styles, but they were all so different," Rhodes said. "The only thing I told him was that I didn't care about having one big traditional stone."
Before purchasing a ring, Legg consulted with both his mother and Rhodes' mother, who gave him some direction. When he proposed in February 2013, he presented Rhodes with a creative take on the traditional. Purchased from Zales, the ring has four symmetrical princess-cut diamonds instead of a single stone. They're surrounded by smaller round diamonds that create a square around the center. It is set on a white-gold band and has 11/4 carats of diamonds.
"When I looked at it, it just took my breath away," Rhodes said.
Though the wedding will come this summer, she now wears the ring, plus not one, but two diamond-set wedding bands, which she had soldered on either side of the engagement ring, making it both less top-heavy and more symmetrical.
"I get compliments on it all the time," Rhodes said.