No Rules Engagement Rings: What to Spend and Why

Engagements and weddings are big business. Big, as in couples spend on average of $30,000-plus on a ring and ceremony. Slick and compelling marketing by the diamond and retail jewelry industry pushes spending between 1 and 3 month’s salary on a ring, suggesting the amount spent is directly reflective of the love you feel toward another person—illogical thinking, to say the least.

Over the years, expectations and traditions have relaxed as brides and grooms have taken a more personal approach to engagements and weddings. Despite this shift, diamond engagement rings continue to be extremely popular and pricey. Before getting caught up in the intoxicating current of an engagement, couples should pause and remember there are no rules when it comes to love.

Choosing an engagement ring should be a highly personal decision—a decision not based on monthly salaries, investment calculators, or societal pressure. For years, Braswell and Son have been helping couples find the very best in affordable luxury engagement and bridal jewelry. We recommend setting a budget reflective of income, goals, and lifestyle. Also, be realistic and discuss priorities, expectations, and considerations such as personal style, activity level, and meaning.

Braswell and Son carries an extensive and unique collection of exquisite vintage luxury engagement and bridal jewelry, hand selected by a discerning GIA trained staff. Our pricing is based on a small percentage of the actual value of a ring’s precious metal and gemstone components, and not over-inflated retail prices that often carry a markup of 1,000 percent. The way we do business allows us to take the time to get to know our customers, make solid recommendations and pass along amazing quality, character, and savings.

Love and life are all about balance. Most would agree that blowing big bucks on an engagement ring and accruing debt would equal a less than perfect beginning to a successful marriage. Don’t sacrifice a spectacular honeymoon or a down payment on a home for an expensive ring. Shop the best of both worlds—elegance at a reasonable price at Braswell and Son.

Engagement Ring Inspiration Worthy of Love Itself

Few things inspire hope and positivity as love does. Love influences our behavior and moves us to be better people for others and ourselves. No wonder an engagement with its details creates such a fuss—especially with the ring. The connection between two people is singularly unique and deserves a ring equally expressive. Here are three inspirational engagement ring trends worthy of a second look:

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

Gemstone Alternatives
Diamonds have a tremendous following, but the earth is rich with exquisite stones. Colorful gemstones as an alternative to diamonds continue to gain popularity as more brides value self-expression and ethical sourcing. Most gemstones come in a countless range of colors and cost far less than a diamond of the same size and grade. Some women are choosing stones for their subtle energetic properties. For instance, a peach blush morganite stone is thought to attune to the heart chakra, encourage lightness within the spirit and symbolize deepening love.

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.

Stacks on Stacks
Mix it up with stacking bands—the ultimate way to showcase your own intimate love story. Completely customizable, each band fits together to give the illusion of a larger ring. Add a band for your engagement, marriage, milestone anniversary or the birth of a child. Choose a style where interlocking bands are part of a base design or take an edgier route, mixing platinum and rose gold with pavé diamonds and birthstones to create the ultimate statement in personal style.

Mixed Metal Details

Intricately patterned settings are perfect for showcasing a traditional and alternative looks.

Sometimes the smallest details make all the difference! Customizing a white round diamond set in a white gold setting with a rose gold halo creates a contemporary update to a classic look while giving the illusion of a larger center stone. Similarly, a brilliant citrine or yellow diamond set in platinum with elegant yellow gold prongs is a sublime presentation all its own.

As curators of fine engagement and bridal sets, Braswell and Son houses choice precious metals and stones, including yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, platinum, silver, fine jewels, and diamonds of every cut, color, and karat. Braswell and Son—your premier source for engagement ring guidance and inspiration.

Vintage Engagement and Wedding Rings: Tradition at its Finest

The first time you laid eyes on the Georgian beauty, you knew. The rich Bordeaux and ivy bouquet of gemstones—garnets, emeralds and seed pearls surrounding a rose cut diamond, all wrapped in an ornate, warm gold setting—you had just met your dream engagement ring.

Rings from the Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian and Art Deco periods are tradition at its finest, however, choosing an antique design may be a bit of a non-traditional move. While the most popular engagement ring remains the round white diamond solitaire, antique rings are a true celebration of style and craftsmanship for those women who want to express their individuality or admire a certain period in design.

Intricately patterned settings are perfect for showcasing traditional and alternative looks.

Consider yourself lucky to find a piece from Georgian period (1714-1830’s). Showcasing ornate and playful femininity, the intricate Grecian-inspired metalwork designs are valued for their beauty and rarity.

Victorian era (1837-1901) jewelry follows the influential and emotional path of Queen Victoria’s life. Bold by design, Victorian period pieces feature brightly colored stones, Celtic detailing and the introduction of larger diamonds following the opening of South African diamond mines.

Most popular for those in the market for an antique engagement ring style are pieces from the enchanting Art Nouveau era (1890-1915). An expression of creativity and nature, Art Nouveau era rings are recognized for flowing, abstract lines, and the use of brilliantly colored enamel and gemstones.

Edwardian Engagment Ring
Large, luminous colored gemstones, and delicate, lace-inspired metalwork make Edwardian era pieces an intoxicating choice.

Famous for intricate filigree, antique rings from the Edwardian period (1901-1910) are straight out of a fairytale. Large, luminous colored gemstones, and delicate, lace-inspired metalwork make Edwardian era pieces an intoxicating choice.

Eclectic and daring, rings of the Art Deco period (1915-1930) are some of the most sought after pieces among vintage engagement jewelry. Influenced by world travel and emerging social freedom, Art Deco era pieces are celebrated for their geometric design and bold, exotic patterns.

Art Deco Ring
A daring choice, Art Deco era pieces are celebrated for their geometric design and bold, exotic patterns.

Why just shop for an engagement ring when you can invest in a piece of art, rich with history? Your dream engagement ring is waiting to be discovered at Braswell and Son, your premier reseller of authentic, vintage luxury and estate jewelry.

Diamond Solitaire Engagement Rings—Classic for a Reason

A round, brilliant cut white diamond nestled into the center of a Tiffany setting is the one and only choice for couples in love with tradition. It’s no surprise that the classic stone has remained popular for generations. A diamond solitaire is the ultimate showpiece in an engagement ring, just as the bride is the crown jewel of her own wedding.

Just one of the magnificent diamond solitaire rings available at Braswell & Son.

sThe 58 facets of a round diamond are engineered to optimize light refraction like no other cut, and the open prong framework of a Tiffany setting allows for ultimate light penetration, magnifying fire and brilliance. Stones that rank lower in clarity and color will still manage to impress with a round brilliant cut.

Looking for more information on diamonds? Download our Diamond Buying Guide!

Diamond solitaires are simple and classic, demand attention, and will never go out of style. They shine equally as bright on an understated band as they do on a band featuring smaller stones or antique embellishments. A diamond solitaire is attractive set in white gold or platinum to accentuate its brilliance, or in yellow or rose gold for an extra pop of contrasting color. Though round is by far most popular cut, oval, square, emerald and princess cuts are equally fine choices. For those pushing the boundaries of tradition, consider a rustic band inspired by nature, or a modern channel setting. To maximize a budget, look to an old mine cut diamond solitaire embedded within a fluted platinum illusion setting.

For generations, Braswell and Son have provided our customers with the very best in affordable luxury. We take pride in knowing that the relationships we build with our clientele are as valuable as the premium pieces we offer. Our graduate gemologist and GIA trained staff guarantees accurate examination, grading and valuation. We deal in new, pre-owned and luxury vintage diamond solitaires and are continually amazed by the variety of stunning and unique pieces that come into our store each and every day. If you are looking for something specific, by all means let us know! We place our expertise at each client’s disposal and would love to help you discover your perfect solitaire style and setting.

High Priced Chain Jewelry Stores: Buyer Beware

Chain jewelry stores have been bombarding us with concepts of “love” for years with their suggestive messaging. After all, why bother if he didn’t get it from Jared … and, doesn’t every kiss begin with Kay?

A word of caution: everything that glitters is not always golden.

Popular chain jewelry stores are not all what they promise. Slick advertising and lavish retail space in premium locations are expensive, and force an extreme markup on fine jewelry—as much as 1,000 percent! Chain jewelry stores are known for offering hyped up sales at rock bottom prices. However, the quality of diamonds and gemstones sold by chain stores is generally mediocre to poor, making most pieces unworthy of their price point, even when offered at a deep discount.

Purchasing from a chain jewelry store means paying mightily for overhead and a big name. So, why not consider buying from an established pawnbroker and be guaranteed exceptional quality at a fair price?

There is a misconception that pawnshops don’t offer good prices to the public for their pre-owned jewelry. The reason is that shops buy jewelry based on overall value and rarity of the piece, rather than original retail price. That means a new engagement ring bought for $5,000 retail will fetch only 10 to 20 percent of that cost ($500 to $1000) when sold to a pawnshop. Pawnshops in turn are able to pass along notable savings to their clients by reselling the piece for 30 to 40 percent above actual value ($1500 to $2000)—a massive savings as compared to the 1,000 percent markup typical of buying new from a chain retailer.

Braswell and Son, premium resellers of new and pre-owned fine and vintage luxury jewelry, will ensure you get what you pay for and receive the customer service you deserve. With an on-site graduate gemologist and GIA trained staff, we hand select pieces based on genuine quality and value to offer the very best in affordable elegance. At Braswell and Son, you’ll find our professional guidance, quality selection and great savings to be more than a cut above the typical chain store experience!

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…

Rare Detail, Rose Gold and Vintage Luxury: 2017 Engagement Ring Trends

Let’s face it, choosing an engagement ring is a big deal. The choice must perfectly embody your partner’s individuality and unique style preference, represent the love and depth of commitment you share, and be a wise investment.

No pressure, right?

For Braswell and Son’s engagement and bridal specialists, it’s an honor to assist Central Arkansas couples in discovering the stone and setting that speaks to them. Here’s a look at three stunning style trends we favor for 2017:

All About Detail
We are delighted by the return of understated, classic designs where the magic is in the finer details. Think of a soft-spoken classic round diamond set atop a contrasting yellow gold and diamond basket; or a gently colored gemstone paired with a surprise precious metal halo; or a deceptively simple band with a delicately jeweled filigree woven into the side view to showcase subtle elegance.

This gold filigree diamond ring evokes subtle elegance.

The Warmth of Rose Gold
Warm and romantic, the gold and copper alloy is a favorite among artisans. It flatters all skin tones and offers a lovely contrast for a classic diamond setting. Especially intriguing is the emerging trend of tone on tone; the play of a pale orange-pink morganite or a blush colored citrine set in rose gold. We also like no rules layering; the use of rose gold as a contrast in customizable stacking bands—the ultimate in personal expression.

Intricately patterned settings are perfect for showcasing traditional and alternative looks.

Vintage Luxury
Handsome, vintage era designs never go out of style. Alluring Deco and Edwardian period-inspired pieces marry bold geometry with intricately patterned settings, perfect for showcasing a traditional stone or an alternative black diamond or ruby. The daring yet delicate nature of the design is as important as the stone itself, and always reads as one of a kind.

If you’re looking for a trusted advisor to guide you through the process of selecting that just right engagement ring, you’ve come to the right place. Along with thoughtful guidance, Braswell and Son offers a choice of vintage luxury, new and pre-owned engagement and bridal jewelry, as well as a large selection of loose diamonds that will take you beyond the ordinary.

Colored Gemstone Engagement Rings: A Millennial Love Story

Princess Diana had an eye for style and turned royal tradition on its ear when she chose the iconic 18-carat oval sapphire for her engagement to Prince Charles. Her choice to forgo the classic diamond in favor of a colored gemstone was an expression of individuality that sparked a trend that today is more popular than ever—especially among Millennials.

For many Millennials, when it comes to expressions of love, there are no rules. “Generation Me,” known for its liberal shift in political and economic views, are deconstructing wedding traditions by their choices in creative invitations, offbeat yet elegant gowns, and distinctive gemstone engagement rings.

This tanzanite Halo ring is a stunning, unique alternative to the classic diamond engagement ring.

Perfect for alternative or vintage designs, colored gemstones open up a world of possibility. Durable stones such as rubies and sapphires are seen as a more expressive choice over diamonds, and better reflect the style and philosophy of the modern couple. With growing concern over the high environmental and human impact of the diamond industry, ethically sourced colored gemstones make a responsible choice.

Millennials value experiences like travel and education over physical investments. However, despite having the reputation of being a weak investment, the value of colored gemstones has increased along with demand and remains a healthy asset.

For some, the color and stone itself has a deeply personal meaning. A liquid blue sapphire represents wisdom, trust and depth of devotion. A fiery red ruby is a protective stone, and denotes stability and passion. And, a naturally radiant green emerald, the color a symbol of good luck and abundance may be perfectly telling of a love story without costing a fortune.

For Generation Y, it’s not all about monetary value, but emotional value. What a gift to have a luminous heirloom opal that has been in the family for generations, upcycled in a current setting to deepen the intent of a proposal?

When it comes to love, the choice of stone should be profoundly individual, and not limited by custom. At Braswell and Son, we specialize in vintage luxury, as well as fine and estate jewelry. Let us help you create your own love story.

Tips For Buying Jewelry for Investment: Vintage Luxury is as Good as Gold

buying jewelry as an investment
If wanting to diversify your assets, invest in cherished pieces from a reputable reseller specializing in vintage luxury jewelry.

The flow of wealth can be traced by following the lavish path of jewels through history. Today, jewelry remains a secure investment if you know how and where to buy.

Premium jewelry retailers tag new pieces with a hefty 100 percent mark up. In comparison, established resellers of fine jewelry offer a modest mark up from 10 to 20 percent. Buying new guarantees immaculate condition and personalized design, but it can take three to five decades to regain the original sales value. If wanting to diversify your assets, invest in cherished pieces from a reputable reseller specializing in vintage luxury jewelry.

As a rule, the rarity of the piece and value of the components determine worth. Large (over 6 carats), or colored stones are considered safe stores of equity. Rings and earrings adapt easily to evolving style, whereas brooches and pins often appear dated. Designer or limited edition pieces from Cartier, Van Cleef, Boucheron, Tiffany, Christian Dior or Arpels make solid choices, as do 1960-era, artist-made jewelry from Andrew Grima, John Donald and Stewart Devlin.

Choose based on character and design. Distinct style periods in jewelry design, such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Georgian, Edwardian and Belle Epoque remain relevant, and easily complement current fashion trends. More elaborate Victorian era pieces were the first to be mass-produced, and as a result are not as rare or valuable.

Look for pieces that spark an emotional response—imagine laying eyes on a bewitching 30-carat emerald cut aquamarine, centrally mounted in a spray of diamonds. The color is pure winter sky, just breaking into spring…

When buying jewelry that holds value over time, make choices based on workmanship, designer cachet, and overall worth. Above all, purchase pieces that you absolutely adore! Be sure to consult Braswell and Son—your trusted reseller of fine, pre-owned, vintage luxury jewelry. Their Gemological Institute of America trained staff and on-site graduate gemologist verifies each piece for authenticity, curates a premium inventory, and offers a generous satisfaction guarantee. Count on a brilliant investment every time with Braswell and Son.

Pawn Shop Jewelry: October Birthstone, the Opal

October Birthstone OpalOpals are beautiful, fiery pieces that are full of so many colors. Opals actually contain up to 20% water that is trapped in its silica structure. There are five different kinds of opals that are listed below:

  • White or Light Opal
  • Black Opal
  • Fire Opal
  • Boulder Opal
  • Crystal or Water Opal

When you’re looking to buy an opal, there are a few things you need to consider:

Is it something you like? There are so many different kinds of opals and opal pieces out there. Make sure you select something that really appeals to you.

Brilliance: You will pay more for billiant stones, but stones that are classified as “bright” are beautiful as well. Even more subdued stones can be amazing. So keep that in mind when you decide how much you’re willing to spend.

Cracks and Faults: Natural faults and inclusions are okay, but you don’t want to buy a stone that has legitimate cracks. In order to see if a stone has cracks, hold it up to a lamp.

Color: Opals come in so many different colors. Decide which one you like. Red is most valuable, followed by orange, then yellow, then green, and finally blue. Blue is the most common color.

Our pawn shop jewelry includes some beautiful opal pieces.