cushion cut engagement ring with halo

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.

cushion cut engagement ringdesigning an engagement ringhow to design an engagement ring

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

15 Comments|See Comments

15 thoughts on “FAQ: Designing An Engagement Ring

  1. Such a cute post! Aside from blogging, I’m actually a jeweler myself and we sell at whole sale!! Definitely in that weird stage where I feel like I don’t have time for the job anymore due to the blog, so I’ve cut down to just being there 3 times week, but it’s so hard for me to quite because I love it! (I remember your post way back when you quit your job and how hard it was for you because you also loved it!) Anyway! I always tell people to buy from wholesalers, so that they don’t end up paying retail! The dulling of the platinum tends to happen, too 🙁 Which is why more people are starting to lean towards white gold. Regardless, your ring is still stunning! Christian did so good! 🙂

    1. Oh wow! I had heard the same thing about white gold becoming popular now, when platinum was the thing when I got engaged – funny how it goes back and forth!

  2. Great post! I never knew so much went into detail when deciding on engagement rings, let alone designing one. I do think it’s extremely important for the person who buys the ring to know exactly what their significant other wants. Being surprised is special but being surprised with an ugly ring that you secretly hate is not so special.


    1. Haha to the point – I feel you girl! I think if I was buying C a diamond, I’d want to know what he likes because that’s some kinda investment.

  3. I simply cannot believe the fantasy world that is presented in this blog. , There is NO WAY that the average young couple can fork out the amount of cash that is required for platinum rings of this size. I read this and wondered to myself “How in the world can a medical school student even begin to afford something even close to this”? Are young brides-to-be going to feel “cheated” if they don’t have somebody who spends 8 weeks of intensive labor getting their “fantasy-only-dreaming rings” in order? The topper was the “surprise” of the extra ring on the way to the honeymoon. The average med school student (or any other young person for that matter) can’t afford a cigar band, a trip to the courthouse and a Motel 6 honeymoon and you are presenting this absolute fantasy life and offering it up as “life is good when you are a princess” to your readers, most of whom are very young and very impressionable. Young women don’t have the life experience to know that this is a fantasy world that is not obtainable.

    This post has left me literally speechless. I read this blog once in a blue moon because you do not live on planet earth much less in the real world. This drivel is not suprising coming from somebody who has stated that their life long ambition is to be a “Real Housewife”.

    It would have been far better if you would have told the truth about this as in “Our parents paid for everything” or “We are in hock up to our eyeballs but I sure do LUV my rings”! If your parents forked over for this nonsense then it’s their fault for enabling this absurd behavior. If you are in hock for his then shame on you for not living within your means. We have a Wall Street friend of ours who gazed at my 1/2 carat engagement ring and told me and my husband that his Wall Street friends HATE having to waste money on diamond engagement rings because diamonds are virtually worthless and they are the biggest scam ever perpetuated on a gullible public. He LOL’ed out loud at that absurd “2 months salary” B.S!.

    Dang girl but you are one high maintenance chick. I wonder just how long your husband is going to think your excessive materialism is cute or desirable. .

    1. My husband was actually on full scholarship for college and med school so we don’t have any debt and therefore aren’t “up to our eyeballs.” He also paid for my ring himself and doesn’t regret his decision as it’s a sentimental symbol of our relationship and commitment to each other and I’ll be wearing it for the rest of my life. Every engagement ring is beautiful because of what it symbolizes, and it’s a personal decision. It shouldn’t be judged, big or small. It sounds like you don’t really like me or this blog, so you probably shouldn’t visit CBL, Lisa. Have a great weekend!

      1. Speechless Lisa had a lot to say! I like your rings and I like how you mixed and matched your bands. Inspired me to be a little adventurous when choosing an anniversary band. Thanks!

  4. Hey Kathleen and Christian, thanks so much for sharing! As someone who recently got engaged and needs to start looking at wedding bands soon, could you elaborate more as to why your wedding bands aren’t as sparkly as your engagement ring? You mentioned both your wedding bands and engagement ring are platinum, so why aren’t they “aging” the same? My engagement ring is platinum too, so now I’m nervous! Any ideas? Thanks! <3

    1. Honestly I don’t have an exact answer. I don’t know if it’s because they’re not made by the same designer!? They’re both diamond and platinum, but six years later they just don’t sparkle the same. I would ask your jeweler about it – or another person told me about a rhodium dip?

  5. I felt compelled to comment on this post after reading Lisa’s vitriol. She’s perpetuating the horrible culture of women hating on other women to the “impressionable young women” that read your blog.

    Negativity aside, I always admire your engagement rings and bands, and think the infinity ring creates such an intriguing feature to the piece.

    My hubby also designed my engagement ring by combining elements of a few rings he had researched and knew I admired. The cutest part- it’s engraved with the “i carry your head with me, I carry it in my heart” and has a space and then “Nov. 2012”. The idea was to insert the fate in November when he proposed to the engraving. Sweet man couldn’t wait till November though, so he proposed in September. So now my perfect ring has the most perfect flaw 🙂

    Continue shining Kathleen, you bring so much light to a lot of your followers xx

    1. Appreciate you Isabel!! 🙂 I LOVE this story. He clearly knew you were the one if he couldn’t even wait! I totally agree – even more special with the story. So sweet!! xoxo

  6. I love this post so much! So often when people decide to get married, they rush right out and buy something ASAP as the excitement is raging and then are less than in love with their choice a short time later. I also really love the mismatched bands. Just looks so much more interesting and modern. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I love the right hand ring you’ve been wearing too! Can you provide more details on that? So pretty!

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