By Michelle Graff
In the jewelry industry, it's a common truism that the holiday season equals engagement season, and it's one that certainly didn't miss Hollywood this year. Stars including Reese Witherspoon, LeAnn Rimes and Natalie Portman are just a few of the celebs reported to have said "yes" in recent weeks.

What's interesting is that following a flurry of high-profile engagements featuring colored gemstone center stones (think Kate Middleton and Jessica Simpson), the latest round of engagements sees a return to more traditional, albeit quite large, colorless diamonds.

Rimes, engaged to actor Eddie Cibrian, is now wearing a 5-carat oval diamond (below) designed by jeweler Brent Polacheck. The center stone is surrounded by pave diamonds and set in platinum. Meanwhile, Hugh Hefner recently put a ring on the finger of Playboy Playmate Crystal Harris. Harris told People magazine that the ring features a center stone that's a little more than than 3 carats, plus a pave diamond band set in platinum.


Photo: Courtesy of Platinum Guild International USA

Yet the ring that has really got the gossip magazine press cranking is the one Witherspoon received from fiancé Jim Toth. Designed by William Goldberg, the sparkling stunner features a rare 4-carat Ashoka diamond set on a pave diamond and platinum band (a similar ring to Reese's is pictured below). Though the ring is clearly gorgeous, I wasn't sure what was quite so special about it as I was unfamiliar with Ashokas. I checked in with our diamond editor and William Goldberg for a quick lesson.


Photo: William Goldberg

Today's Ashokas actually refer to a unique diamond cut, with each diamond cut to be visually larger and more brilliant, with 62 displayed facets and rounded corners. The diamonds take their name from the story of the original 41.57-carat, D color, flawless Ashoka diamond owned by India's Ashoka Maruya. Renowned for guiding his subjects on the path of love, respect and compassion, the emperor was thought to possess a magical stone, one with the power to remove sorrow.

That lore, and the rarity of today's Ashoka diamonds (less than 10 percent of rough diamonds mined annually have the potential to become an Ashoka-cut stone, the designer says), make for quite a story for brides-to-be seeking the most unique of rings.

According to Eve Goldberg of William Goldberg, Ashokas have intrigued plenty of potential fiancées since the news hit about Reese's new ring.

"We have received many, many calls about the Ashoka, and we have gotten hundreds of requests on our Web site for more information on the Ashoka," she told National Jeweler.

TAGS:   Celebrities
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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.