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