1: Use “old” to make “new”.
Did you inherit an engagement ring from your grandmother or a diamond wedding band from another woman in your family? The “old” pieces carry a lot of sentimental value. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to “re-use” all of these diamonds in your own ring? Work with your designer to incorporate the stones into the new engagement ring. Your ring will not only be unique, but will carry a part of special women in your family.
2: You love your friend’s engagement ring, but don’t want to be a copycat.
You don’t have to. Talk to a jewelry designer about the ring you admire; describe everything you like about it. You probably love the style rather than the details. Or is it the stark simplicity or the intricate filigree details? Maybe it’s the striking combination of white and yellow gold in the setting that makes the ring look so bold. Think style and you will end up with an engagement ring where every detail is you.
3: You don’t want a traditional engagement ring; you are a trend-setter.
I hear you. The plain Tiffany-style engagement ring is just not for you. How about a three-stone ring, with a larger diamond in the center and two smaller diamonds on the sides? Not your style either? How many jewelry stores have you visited looking for that “different” ring? Ten? Twenty? If you think you will never find it, you are probably right. When you have something very specific in mind, chances are it is not in a jewelry showcase. It is time to talk to a jewelry designer. Describe your vision and try to sketch the ring out. The designer will be grateful to you for any help you can provide with the design.
4: You want to be able to remember not only where the ring was bought, but also how it was made.
You want to be part of every step in your engagement process and don’t want any surprises. You want the process of designing your engagement ring to be memorable and need to be involved in the creation process. Custom-designing an engagement ring is not simply a process, it is a journey. Stay involved from the sketch, to a wax model, to casting, to selecting all the stones.
5: You love what the Hollywood actresses are wearing.
Did you fall in love with one of the engagement rings worn by a celebrity? Is it the one with a 10 carat emerald cut diamond, or, perhaps, the one with a 6.1 carats rare pink diamond? Yet realistically, you and your fiancé-to-be cannot afford either one of those. It’s time to compromise. Would you be happy with an engagement ring in which a pink diamond is replaced with a pink sapphire or a light pink kunzite? Still prefer a diamond as a center stone? How about scaling the ring down and forgoing some of the finer details? A good jewelry designer will be able to offer many options and help you remain within your budget.
6: Details only known to you.
Are there things you want in your engagement ring that you don’t want other people to see? Like a little ruby stone you received in your pre-engagement ring years ago? A detail like this is important and meaningful to you but you may prefer to keep it private. Certainly, this is a challenge, but not for a good designer. If you are custom-making your engagement ring, ask the designer to place the stones, initials, or dates into the ring’s gallery, the part located just under the stone of your ring. The gallery makes the ring smooth on the inside, the construction stronger, and it is a great place to keep the things that are meaningful to you away from other people’s eyes.
7: You like Period Jewelry but don’t want an engagement ring from an estate collection.
Think about what is it that attracts you to a style you so admire. For example, the Art Deco period is known for the geometric forms it offers, and the bold contrasting shapes and colors of stones. During the Edwardian jewelry period, jewelers used platinum and diamonds to create intricate, delicate, airy, and lace-like patterns. Which end of the spectrum do you fall under? It takes some time to learn about the different periods to figure it out but definitely worth it! If you decide to custom-make your engagement ring, tell your jewelry designer which time period you want your engagement ring to adhere to and he/she will guide you through the rest of the process.
8: You know a jeweler whose work you have always admired.
You are lucky. Just as a trusted doctor or an attorney, a good jewelry designer is not easy to find. Has the designer made any pieces for you in the past? Do your family members always speak highly of that jeweler? Have you seen their work and fell in love with the style and quality of craftsmanship? If you were lucky to find a good jeweler -- stick with him/her!
9: Use your artistic abilities.
Can you sketch the engagement ring of your dreams? Terrific! An experienced designer will take you and your idea in the right direction, and together, you can make your dream a reality. Keep in mind that sometimes, what looks great on paper should not be made in metal. Your designer should tell you if some parts of the ring would be too thin and structurally unsound, or the design would jeopardize the security of the stones.
10: You have no idea of what you want in your engagement ring.
You are not alone and now there is homework to be done. Start by visiting jewelry stores, trying different rings on, and determining the styles that make you feel comfortable. Also, look at engagement rings in bridal magazines and imagine them on your finger. So what do you do if you like the band (called a shank) in one ring, the box holding the center stone in another, and the way the side stones are set in a third ring?
A good designer will help you sort out the details and create a ring for you to enjoy and to be proud of.
© 2009 Lucy Zimmerman
Lucy Zimmerman is a fourth-generation jewelry designer at Roman Jewelers in New Jersey.