Tips for Couples Designing Their Engagement Ring

Posted on March 05, 2015 by Mary Hood | 2 Comments

 Designing your own engagement ring is a great way to incorporate family heirloom stones, cultural symbols, eco-friendly materials, or a personal message. | BMJ Blog

Custom Aquamarine Bezel Ring and Diamond Wedding Band

During our courtship, my then-boyfriend-now-fiancé hinted that when we got officially engaged, he’d want me to pick out my own ring. When he did propose, he offered me a plastic ring from the dollar store (actually, he offered me a pack of twelve plastic rings since they came in a “party bundle”). Who could say “no” to that?

Shortly afterwards, we went to a local jeweler who was recommended to us by a friend. Although I imagined picking a ring directly from the store, the jeweler suggested that we try designing our own. The entire process took about two months, but it was worth the wait and multiple visits to the shop. My fiancé and I feel that the ring matches my style and personality and is all the more special because we worked on it together.

Many couples are deciding to go the same route. Designing your own engagement ring ensures that your ring is unique and so you. It’s also a great way to incorporate a family heirloom stone, cultural symbol, or personal message. Finally, earth- and social-conscious couples can have more control over ethical elements of the ring (i.e. conflict-free stones, reclaimed metals).

The process can be a bit complicated, however—here’s what I learned along the way.

Draw Inspiration

Tips for Couples Designing Engagement Ring | BMJ Blog

Early sketches of ring ideas. 

It takes time to find out what you truly love in a ring—especially one that you’ll be wearing for the rest of your life. Here are a few ways to get started:

Examine your jewelry tastes. Note which color of stones and metals you gravitate towards. Are there eras of fashion that your jewelry takes after (i.e. art deco, rococo, Victorian, modern minimalism)? What design elements of this era do you like the most?

Notice what you like about other people’s rings. Browse local jewelry stores, and try on various styles (just like you would a wedding dress!). Spend a few hours on Pinterest. Get creative with Photoshop. Research designers you admire. Make sketches. Keep note of anything you dislike—this is important, too!

 Tips for Couples Designing Their Engagement Ring | BMJ Blog

I spent oodles of time on Pinterest during the early stages of the design process. I showed the ring pictured on the left to my jeweler. Together we came up with the ring pictured on the right.

Consider Lifestyle and Wedding Band

Your lifestyle may help you determine certain elements of your engagement ring. Depending on your activity level, you may want something less clunky with a lower profile. One of my minor fears about a gemstone ring was that it would get caught in my long hair. A bezel setting would be appropriate for this concern. (My love of the prong setting won over, however.)

Also, you’ll want to consider the kind of wedding band you’d like to accompany the e-ring. Work with a jeweler to design an engagement ring that looks stunning on its own but may also be complimented by a wedding band.

Give the Process Time

This is not an adventure to be rushed. It takes a while to figure out the style of ring you’d like, find a jeweler to work with, and set the actual creation of the ring in motion. Additionally, you’ll want to allow enough lead time.

Once my fiancé and I finally decided on a design, our jeweler created a wax version of the ring (some jewelers may use a raw metal cast instead). There were no stones in place, so we had to use our imaginations. After suggesting a few tweaks, our jeweler made a second cast, to which we gave the thumbs up. Meanwhile, he was also attending gem shows, looking for the right center stone. This entire back-and-forth process of agreeing on a design and making modifications took about six weeks—and we lived in the same town as our jeweler!

Inform Yourself and Create a Budget

Do a little research on the type of metals and stones available to you. Consider gem hardness, the 4 Cs of diamonds, diamond substitutes (like white sapphires), and precious metal options (like palladium, rose gold, yellow gold, white gold, and platinum).
As you learn about your options, discuss with your jeweler which combination of stones and precious metals will suit your budget while still meeting your design desires.
Select the Right Designer

You’ll want to choose a reputable designer—someone who will deliver on quality and customer service. Begin by asking family and friends for recommendations. When contacting a jeweler, ask about his or her professional affiliations, how long they’ve been in business, and where you may view their work.

Ultimately, you want to find someone who will help give your vision shape and is pleasant to work with. A skilled jeweler will have a good sense of the logistics of creating a wearing a ring and can advise you on creating a practical setting. 

Once you’ve selected your dream designer, create a list together of agreed upon elements of the ring (such as purity of metal) turn-around time, and price. If the jeweler is providing a large center diamond, discuss if it is accompanied by a quality grading report.

A note from Barbara...  Please be sensitive to the fact that most designers won't copy another artist's work.  As Mary mentions above, use favorite details as a jumping off point for designing your unique ring.


Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry, Mary Hood

Posted in custom jewelry, custom rings, engagement rings, jewelry, tips for couples



2 Responses

Luke Smith
Luke Smith

May 09, 2016

Wow that is a beautiful ring that is in the photos, I love the gold band next to the giant diamond. These are good tips since I just got engaged and I want to get the best ring I can. I think I will start to draw it and see what I come up with.

Nash Rich
Nash Rich

April 19, 2016

Being a bass player, when I was younger, I thought it would be cool to weld an old bass string into a ring, but then my friends said it was pretty corny. I just stuck with the traditional way. My brother proposed with a band-aid because of the movie Father Goose with Cary Grant. Some people thought it was tacky, but I thought it was great. He did eventually get a real ring though. I thought these were great tips. Maybe my wife and I will do this when our 25th anniversary comes around. Thanks!

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