Photo: Janae Shields
Searching for an engagement ring can be daunting, to say the least... But if you're working with an in-the-know jeweler who understands what you and your fiancé are all about, well, then it's just as much fun as dishing with a close girlfriend.
Doyle & Doyle, the sister-owned boutique on West 13th Street, has become a mainstay for chic brides who are looking for a truly one-of-a-kind ring to suit their creative, but sophisticated style.
We sat down with Elizabeth and Irene Pamela at their meatpacking district boutique to chat about all things vintage engagement ring shopping — and how to find the ring that melts your heart as much as your groom-to-be.
Trust Your Source
The most important thing couples can do, is buy from someone they trust. "There are so many different factors to consider when buying vintage. It takes years of serious study to learn what makes one ring worth 10 times the one next to it," says Doyle. "A future bride and her fiance need to remember they do not need to learn every detail of buying an engagement ring (nor can they). They should find a professional with the right training and a great reputation and let them educate you on the specific rings you are interested in."
Education is Key
Every bride is not born a gemologist. In fact, it's pretty hard to find the right language to explain what you love. Find someone who can educate you on details, and work through your tastes and preferences. "We have customers who come in and say things like they want an Art Deco ring with an original center stone and it must be an ideal cut with all 'excellents' on the report because they read somewhere online that is what they should ask for. In reality that combination does not exist." says Doyle. "Similarly, we have had customers who walk in saying they love opals, but they lead very active lifestyles. You just can't go on a hike with an opal ring. It's our job to direct them to a more sturdy stone to suit their day to day."
Make Your Jeweler Work for You
The goal here is to find a jeweler who has already used their expertise to make sure you are getting a fair price. "We advocate for our customers at every step of the process," says Doyle. "I cannot overpay for a ring no matter how pretty it is because I have to protect my customer from overpaying."
"We are very careful in our buying so that our rings are priced fairly. Each ring is inspected by at least two staff gemologists for a robust description including all gemstones and materials, as well as for any damage or potential weaknesses. If any restoration work is necessary it is performed before a ring is ever offered to a customer. After we have protected our customer through all of these steps, it is on to the fun part."
Make Sure They Love the "Art of Vintage"
Great jewelers have a great team. Doyle & Doyle is lucky to have an incredible network of people who help the sisters source pieces they know they will love from across the globe. "When I am searching for vintage rings the single most important factor I consider is the beauty of the ring. The ring has to be beautiful for me to even consider it, but beauty can be so many different things. It could be an exceptional stone or a something understated, such as a special detail on the underside of the setting."
Don't Be Shy to Tell Your Story
The more you share about yourself, the more your jeweler will understand your taste. "The piece you choose must speak to you. We always ask customers about their lifestyle, what they do, how active they are, if they travel... I'll ask the fiance, 'What does she wear? Is she vintage with delicate, lacey clothes, or is she more preppy?'"
Be Honest — Not Bashful — About Your Budget
Never let your budget define the ring you choose. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised to come in under budget! "We really pride ourselves on having something for everyone," says Doyle. "Sometimes people have a budget and they think they need to spend that exact amount. If their ring comes in under budget they shouldn't feel bad about it. They can put that money toward something else, like their honeymoon, wedding or even buying a house. We are really able to find amazing, stunning rings at every price."
Always Ask About Anything Unusual They Have in Stock
A great way to explore your tastes, is to ask about unique pieces. Even if something exotic isn't exactly for you, it's easy to talk through what you like and dislike so the jeweler can get a better understanding of your style. Plus, you may be surprised with some unique pieces! "We currently have an octagonal orange diamond ring in the boutique. The central diamond is such an incredibly intense color and a very bold and unique shape as well. It really pops. The sides of the ring have a geometric design which complements, but does not overpower the center diamond. It is the perfect ring for someone looking for a really unique, stand out ring, " says Doyle.
"It has to be a very confident, slightly non traditional woman, who is looking for something beautiful, but doesn't need that much affirmation from the outside world, because she is so comfortable in her own choice. It will surely get noticed."
Finding "The One" Should be Magical
The best ring is one that fits most aesthetically and practically. "We work together with our customers to identify the perfect ring for them. It needs to be a combination of beautiful, special and practical for the way they want to incorporate it into their lifestyle. It is fun to try on rings together to figure out which ring fits all of these criteria for them. And there is absolutely nothing better than when we find the right one and the customer's face lights up. Both the person and the ring light up. It is truly magical."