When it comes to weddings, Micaela Erlanger knows her stuff. The stylist behind Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, and Meryl Streep’s elegant red carpet looks ended 2019 by helping brides pull off the weddings of their dreams. Some of her more high profile clients’ ceremonies made headlines — such as publishing heiress Amanda Hearst’s nuptials — but you don’t have to be well-known to schedule a one on one session. When 2020’s pandemic began, Erlanger started offering her services online, helping couples plan their big day via Zoom or reimagine ceremonies canceled due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home mandates. The pivot opened the door for Erlanger to engage with a new audience and set the stage for her latest collaboration. The launch of her engagement ring collection with Forevermark pushes Erlanger into new territory with her first foray into jewelry design. Eager to translate her glamorous aesthetic into eye-catching gems, she jumped at the chance to work with a brand she has frequently placed on celebrities for events like the Oscars and the Cannes Film Festival. “It all came about so organically,” she shared on the phone from Miami. “I’ve built a wonderful relationship with them over the years, and this felt like a great opportunity to bring my love of jewelry to brides across the world.”Photo: Courtesy of Forevermark
As the woman who wrote the book on accessorizing (her 2018 tome How to Accessorize: A Perfect Finish to Every Outfit explores the topic in detail), Erlanger wasn’t interested in creating cookie-cutter jewelry; she wanted to give brides something that would remain chic for decades to come. “I was thinking about clean, delicate, platinum settings that allow the diamond to float, [details] with lots of extra hidden sparkle which make the diamond appear even bigger,” she explains. “These are classic styles that will remain timeless, but we’ve also included some fancier shapes that I’m truly excited about.” For Erlanger, the process of moving from idea to final product was thrilling. “It was incredibly hands-on. In Botswana, I was looking at raw stones, then in New York sitting down with the creative team putting pen to paper for the sketches,” she says. “We talked about carat size, how stones would fit together, which settings to use, and considered every detail from start to finish.”
With seven styles featuring oval, round, and square shapes, solitaires, and bands covered in melee diamonds, the collection offers plenty of options while addressing the moment’s fashion preferences. The classics are newly relevant, according to De Beer’s recently released jewelry report, which crunches data on what’s selling in terms of engagement rings. Just as consumers in the ready-to-wear market choose to invest in timeless fashion (think: Chanel bags, Saint Laurent blazers, and the like) with lasting resale value, those purchasing diamonds are leaning towards traditional pieces with subtle twists. “I wanted to have very subtle details and thoughtful design elements that enhance the brilliance of the natural stone,” says Erlanger of the ultra-thin bands and bevel settings.Photo: Courtesy of Forevermark
The move towards simplicity marks a reversal of the trends seen at the end of the last decade. For a time, unexpected materials, vintage rings, or idiosyncratic designs were the norm for young brides. Streamlined collections like Erlanger’s reflect the current mood. And in 2020, no jewelry launch feels appropriate without addressing the diamond industry’s ethics. “There is a greater interest in knowing where the stones came from,” says Erlanger. “People are more aware, and they’re choosing rings [that are] sustainable, or use ethically-sourced diamonds.” To address her concerns, Erlanger headed to Botswana in October to tour the Forevermark mines before committing to a collection. “I needed to see everything firsthand so that I would know where everything comes from, how it is produced, and who is doing the work.” While there, Erlanger learned of the company's philanthropy—for every acre they use for mining, six are set aside for nature conversation, with 500,000 acres donated to date—and commitment to sourcing responsibly.
Of course, in a year when many weddings have been postponed or canceled, buying an engagement ring can be a fraught process. Uncertainty is difficult, but Erlanger encourages couples to focus on what is truly important. Her advice for selecting the perfect piece is simple—choose timelessness over trends, and be mindful of your personal style and what the jewelry is supposed to represent. “It’s an expression of love that carries a lot of weight and symbolism, especially right now,” she says. “Jewelry often comes with a history. It’s meant to be worn and enjoyed, but it carries sentiment and meaning, so there should always be a personal touch. You want to feel like the ring is retelling the story of those moments.”Photo: Courtesy of Forevermark