Personal Expression: Looking Beyond the Traditional Engagement Diamond

Big, sparkly diamonds have been the traditional choice for engagement rings for over a century. It may come as a surprise to know that diamonds weren’t always considered the forever stone. In the 1900s diamonds were simply one of many choices among gemstones.

The notion of the diamond being the quintessential engagement stone resulted from a well-crafted, exceptionally effective, multi-decade marketing campaign that positioned the gem as the one and only choice.

Diamonds were a popular choice for engagement settings, however, tourmaline, pearl, emerald and even fiery carnelian were also fashionable at the time. The notion of the diamond being the quintessential engagement stone resulted from a well-crafted, exceptionally effective, multi-decade marketing campaign that positioned the gem as the one and only choice.

Today, social constricts have become more relaxed and people are waiting longer to marry. Many women are now moving away from traditional engagement rings in favor of pieces that are more personally meaningful, and a true representation their unique style and values.

While not a true “lovers’ knot”, this ring features smoky gemstones and a knot motif design.

The decision to forego a diamond for a colored gemstone is sometimes moral. Some choose to skip a stone altogether. One poignant example being the stone-less, “True Lovers Knot.” The romantic design is made of two interlocking overhand knots, in two parallel, precious metal bands; each free to move about the other, yet inseparable.

Perhaps your perfect engagement ring is made of warm rose gold and Oregon sunstone, and tells a personal story about how you fell in love in late summer, on a sun-kissed beach in the Northwest. Or, maybe you’ve always associated rubies with passion, would like to support a local artisan, or have a vintage, heirloom sapphire that would add emotional value to an alternative setting.

There is no hard and fast rule that an engagement ring must feature a multi-carat diamond sparkler. An engagement ring should be a symbol of commitment, as well as a personal expression of style. Choose a style and stone that speaks to you—something that gives you joy, and that you will love to wear every day.

Braswell and Son’s discerning staff, and distinctive selection of new and vintage luxury engagement jewelry will inspire you to look beyond the standard diamond to create your own story.

Louis Vuitton Crossbody Bags Freshly Picked for Spring

Crossbody Bag Season
It’s spring … get out and play, but leave your big bag at home! The perfect crossbody bag is waiting for you at Braswell and Son.

Spring is here, and just in time! Time to get out there and bask in the glow of a brand new season. Plan an outing while the temperature is still comfortable; book a garden tour and take in the rich smell of cherry blossoms, or indulge in a daylong treasure hunt for vintage luxury finds.

For the fashionista, spring also marks the start of crossbody bag season. As the name suggests, the crossbody has a longer, adjustable strap that is worn diagonally across and close to the body allowing for hands-free mobility. A smaller alternative to a larger tote, the bag offers the added advantage of extra security and can be moved to the front of the body when seated—a perfect union of style, function and comfort.

The crossbody’s humble beginnings can be traced back to bags used by early messengers and the Pony Express. Today, premium designers are evolving the classic messenger by blending utility with beauty. The bags borrow details from vintage luggage and military design, and are made with a mobile society in mind.

One example, the messenger-inspired Louis Vuitton Monogram Musette, is luxury with benefits. Large enough to fit a laptop and easy to carry, the bag features a generous main pocket, a smaller phone pocket, and has enough room to stow a few essentials in case a day trip turns into an overnight stay. Discontinued and somewhat rare, the Musette remains a widely sought after collectible piece.

Another beautiful choice is the convertible Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandoulière 25. Originally designed for travellers in the 1930s, the bag’s classic lines are reminiscent of another time. The bag is thoughtfully appointed with a zipper closure, rolled leather handles and a secure lock and key. The Speedy 25 is definitely easy on the eyes, but what makes the bag extra special is its versatility. It can be worn across the body, on the shoulder or even carried, depending on the occasion.

It’s spring … get out and play, but leave your big bag at home! The perfect crossbody bag is waiting for you at Braswell and Son.

Shopping for Engagement Rings: Insider Tips

There is something insanely romantic about the idea of a man pouring over options with his lady in mind, and choosing a ring that will represent their lifelong love affair. However, let’s not overlook the daunting task that lies before him. His choice should be an elegant balance of quality, design, size and price. He knows the basics, but should keep the following in mind:

If she’s ethically minded or non-traditional, a colored stone or lower-profile stone may be just right.

It’s All About Her

Taking cues from her taste in art, fashion and décor, he must shop for her personality and sense of style. If she is non-traditional, she may favor a modern setting with a yellow, blue, or black sapphire over a diamond. Likewise, if she is ethically minded, a lab created diamond, or a lower profile stone-less ring might be an excellent fit.

Buy Smart

To ensure the once in a lifetime purchase is a wise investment that she will love, shop at a reputable, and GIA affiliated seller of new or pre-owned jewelry. Stones above 1-carat should have a written grading report detailing any stone characteristics, enhancements or custom work that affects value, and come with an exchange policy.

Consider incorporating an heirloom stone into a new setting as a way to combine the old with the new.

Get Creative

Custom doesn’t always mean expensive. Don’t be afraid to request the stone from one ring be combined with a setting from another. Or, think about incorporating a stone that belonged to her grandmother into a contemporary setting as a beautiful way to carry family tradition forward. She will be taken with the thought and intention behind the one of a kind creation.


Opting for an Asscher cut, brilliant oval, or pear shaped like the one pictured here can result in savings at the register.

Work the Budget

To capitalize on budget, consider a stone just shy of a most popular size. For instance, choosing a 1.8-carat stone over a 2-carat stone can save up to 20 percent. Of the ten fancy cut diamond shapes, round diamonds are by far the most popular and most expensive. Going for a brilliant oval or Asscher cut instead can result in significant savings and afford the buyer a larger stone.

Trust in Braswell and Son’s extensive showcase of new and hand-selected vintage luxury engagement rings, expert guidance and generous return policy for the ideal ring.

Now, time for the proposal…