One of my most commonly asked questions is about my engagement ring. Christian designed the ring himself in Mississippi (where we got engaged), so I thought it would be fun to invite him to share how he designed it and what his tips would be for someone looking to go through the process.
AKA – feel free to send this post to your boyfriend! No shame in that game. When C and I knew we wanted to get married, I sent him photos and emails so he knew exactly what kind of rings gave me the heart-eyes. If he was going to make the biggest purchase of his life… he wanted to make sure it was something I would love for 50+ years!
So now I’m handing this off to him…
Let’s start with the caveat- I’ve only done this once so this is more of my experience than it is expert advice.
Go to a jewelry store together if you can.
You have to get a feel for what your partner wants. If they say they do not have an opinion they still have some idea of what an engagement ring should look like whether that’s simple, complex, solitaire, gold, platinum, or whatever. Get what ever details from them that you can. Find out which stone shape and metal they like. Knowing what they hate is equally useful.
Like Kathleen said, she was not bashful about sharing her preference (big and sparkly). We went to just one jewelry store together. It was not the one I ultimately bought the ring from but it had a variety of antique and new, big and small. Her favorite game to play was for me to guess which one out of a row of rings was her favorite. Once I was consistently guessing one of her top choices it was time for me to go out on my own.
Research diamond grades and determine what’s appropriate for you.
If the person wearing the ring really does not care and picks the first ring they see then great, go with it. They are the person who you have to make happy. If your partner is more in tune with the details then you need to do the same. Once I knew the specifics of what Kathleen wanted (cushion cut with a halo) it gave me something to google. I clicked through tons of google images and saved pictures of rings that I liked something about.
I did not set out to design Kathleen’s ring. Once I had an idea of what she wanted I made the rounds through the area jewelry stores. People were very happy to educate me on the process and teach me about diamonds. I was pleasantly surprised how reasonable people were since I thought they would just try to push me toward more expensive, flawless stones.
Instead I learned that a round or brilliant cut stone will refract the most light (read: sparkle) while other cuts like cushion, princess, and emerald will not be as bright at the same carat weight. I also learned that you can get a larger stone for your money by getting one that has inclusions (imperfections). Natural occurring stones have inclusions and are rated by experts based on the size and number of these inclusions. In general there are stones with almost no inclusions, stones with inclusions too small to see, and stones with large inclusions. After looking at different stones under a magnifying glass I found a grade of stone I liked. Kathleen’s diamond has a small inclusion that I could barely see under a magnifying glass, and it’s now covered by a prong.
Jewelers get their stones from wholesalers instead of holding a large collection of diamonds themselves and hoping that they sell. Your jeweler can requests several stones with your specifications you can choose from which helps you get exactly what you want. It came down to two jewelers for me. I got lucky and realized they both used the same wholesaler and had access to the diamond that I wanted. I went with the one who gave me the better deal on the diamond after the other could not match his price.
This calculator might also be helpful in helping you see the cost difference between grades of diamonds. You can decided how much more valuable it is to you to have the ext step up in quality.
My final step was having the ring made for the diamond. I gave my jeweler the picture closest to what I wanted and notes on changes I had in mind. I got a drawing of the design from the jewelers ring maker and gave them the green light.
What I Learned –
In terms of timeline, it took 8-10 weeks from looking at rings to getting the final product with the production taking the most time- about a month.
The jeweler I worked with was great but I do wish the split shank bands that hold up the diamond were more delicate. Maybe a 3D rendering would have helped in that regard. That is the downside of designing one yourself – you do not know exactly what you are going to get until it comes in as opposed to buying one off the shelf.
photos by Vincent Elejorde
You can find our outfits in this post.
Try on different wedding bands and be open-minded.
This is Kathleen now, but I wanted to add this to Christian’s helpful tips. I was thrilled with the ring Christian designed. It was so much more beautiful than anything I could have dreamt up myself. I loved hearing all of the work, time and thought he put into it, and to this day whenever I receive a compliment I text or tell him.
One mistake I made that I wish I could do again was selecting my wedding band. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted – a classic diamond band. When I went to the jewelry store I beelined straight to that selection, found a matching set that I loved, and called it a day after Christian told me there was no way he was buying me more than one wedding band.
He surprised me with the second band on the way to our honeymoon. Smart man!
My engagement ring is platinum, as are my wedding bands, but sadly they haven’t “aged” the same. As the years go by, my engagement ring continues to be much sparklier and brighter than my bands, no matter how many times I clean or polish them.
A couple of years ago I received this infinity band from Henri Daussi and I couldn’t believe how beautifully it pairs with my engagement ring. I adore it! I think it adds so much to the setting, and I wish I had been more adventurous with trying different bands to see what really complimented my engagement ring best.
I hope this information was helpful! To those who just want to know the exact style of my ring – it’s a cushion cut diamond with a halo and split shank band in platinum, paired with an infinity band in white gold. I wear one of my original platinum wedding bands with the white gold infinity band and my engagement ring. Let me know if you have any specific questions that I may have missed. Thanks so much for reading – XO