One of the many plights of being design-eyed is that you can find fault in just about any design. It happens with clothing, handbags, jewelry, advertisements… the works. I’m always constantly looking at the world with an editorial eye, and thinking to myself “they should have moved that text to the right,” or “I wish that pendant wasn’t so heavy looking” or “that bag would be so much more fun if it was two-toned…” It’s why you’ll see things change up so often here around the site. I’m always finding inspiration, or looking for ways to improve.
So you can imagine the trepidation my fiancé faced when shopping for engagement rings… He once tried asking if I had a girlfriend who knew what I wanted, and I shook my head (I hadn’t really wanted to be that girl who had planned it all out down to the model number) and another time he tried taking me to a jewelry store to just pick it out together – but I poo-pooed the idea not wanting to be standing there while he negotiated payment with the jeweler… and so, like the brilliant man he is (I love you, honey!) he smartly proposed with a simple solitaire setting that we already had in the family (thank you Nonna!) and presented the ring with the notion that I could design a setting that was “just want I wanted.”
Because we had a jeweler that was the go-to amongst family and friends in town (If you’re in SoCal check out Serengheti Jewelers in downtown San Diego) it was an easy choice to figure out who I wanted to work on my ring. A family-owned and run business that is well-trusted or has years of experience is a great place to start. Also, be sure to check out other work they’ve done to see if they match your style.
The Design Process
A cautionary bit of advice for anyone attempting to design their own ring:
- Don’t rush it. Do your homework.
You’ll want to be sure you know what you want before the jewelers get started or you’ll end up re-inventing, irritating your jeweler, and spending more money.
- Start a Pinterest board and zero-in on what you want.
It’s really easy to get distracted by shiny objects, especially when that’s what you are researching. Find a style, and zero-in on the aspects you like in a ring. Make notes (i.e. I like this
- Try on rings!
Try on as many as you can. Note what you love, and more importantly, note what you hate. Be sure to look at the rise of the ring (how much it sticks up from your hand) and the over-all scale on your hand.
- Know your terminology.
It can be easy to figure out what you like, but hard to communicate it to your jeweler if you’re not speaking the same language. I really liked diamond & ring education at 90210 Jewelry which had a great reference of terminology.
- Know your priority list.
If your significant other told you “the sky’s the limit,” well, then lucky you! But if not, the cost of custom design can vary a lot based on whether you prioritize the Four-C’s. Cut, Color, Clary and Carat weight and metal. I knew that I could compromise in the karat of the gold (and that I didn’t necessarily need platinum) which was good to know when I increased the carat weight of the pave diamonds in round 2 of the design process.
Sketching and Cad Drawings
Most jewelers will either sketch or mock-up your ring after an initial consultation. Some may even have similar rings in their inventory to show you. If you’re selecting a center stone to be a part of the design, that will be the first step. In my case, I was using an heirloom diamond from my grandmother “Nonna.”
This is your chance to speak up, so be sure to use a critical eye when looking at designs. This is not the time to be bashful, or you’ll be stuck with a design feature that bugs you for eternity!
My jeweler had an amazing feature where he was able to 3d-print my ring for me. This meant I was actually able to touch, hold, feel and wear the ring (as it would be before the diamonds were placed).
It was a good thing he did so, because when I put on the ring, the profile view “W” that we had set into the cathedral was jut too tall. As you can see here, I actually had them make the W less dramatic, a compromise to bring the height of the design down.
The End Result: Pure Joy
In the end, I have a ring that I just absolutely adore. What’s better, is that it is 100% my own, and has little touches that no one else has. I get at least one compliment on it a day (usually more) and my husband loves to show it off (because I designed it). So if you’re thinking about going your own way, take the plunge! Do your homework, find a designer you trust and make your dream ring come to life!