We caught up with fine jewelry designer Lizzie Mandler just days before she landed in New York City to kick off fashion month — because jewelry designers participate in fashion week, too! The designer — who collaborated with ready-to-wear designer Jonathan Cohen Studio on a capsule of limited edition earrings in conjunction with Cohen's spring collection, which debuts Friday — has some very exciting bridal fashion news to share: She's starting her own bridal line, Beloved by Lizzie Mandler. In light of her new venture, the Los Angeles native (who counts Madonna and Rihanna as fans!) began designing custom engagement rings four years ago and since then, sat down with BRIDES to share her expert insights on engagement rings exclusively.
Want to peruse the Beloved by Lizzie Mandler pieces?
"My bridal business is officially up and running! I will be releasing new sample styles and one-of-a-kinds as they come to me, which I think is the best way to design! Other than one-of-a-kinds, all rings are customized depending on the client, so the photos you see online are either custom rings I have made for clients or sample styles I have created for the line," said Mandler, of her brand's dreamy Instagram feed, @BelovedXLizzieMandler. "Designing bridal is the ultimate manifestation of what I love about jewelry. Jewelry has an inherent ability to be representative of a specific moment in time or a feeling, while being a timeless memento. It is the greatest honor when a client trusts me to create such a symbolic piece for them."
Her bridal line will certainly stand out.
"Its always a challenge to design pieces that are current and contemporary, yet maintain a timeless quality, and this challenge is even more difficult in the bridal market. Many of the engagement rings on the market are relatively conservative, as people really want their engagement ring to be a 'forever' piece, and often shy away from anything too avant-garde. I think the sweet spot is to find subtle ways to update classic silhouettes, like the solitaire."
Photo: Courtesy of Lizzie Mandler
__ Mandler's tips on designing a custom ring?__
"Surround yourself with the right people. Creating an engagement ring is an incredibly personal process filled with lots of decisions. Find a jeweler who is on the same page as you, and who understands your future spouse's aesthetic. It's important that whoever you work with guides you through each step and educates you about the various decisions you're making," she says. Second, check out her current jewelry to get a sense of what she really loves. "Pay attention. What color gold does she wear? How much and what type of jewelry does she wear on a daily basis? Has she pinned any ring pictures that could give you clues? If you're working with the right jeweler, they will help guide you to a style that suites her based on the information you can provide them. The devil is truly in the details, so pay attention!" And finally, listen to your heart. "Most importantly, trust yourself. It sounds cheesy, but really, follow your heart. At the end of the day this ring (regardless of its shape, size, color, design) is a symbol of something much more important. Make your decisions from that place."
See More: How to Accessorize Your Wedding Day Look
How do you choose the style of ring?
"Figure out what your priorities are. Do you want the shape that looks the biggest? Do you want the stone that sparkles the most? Do you want the shape that is unique? Certain shapes tend to make the stones look larger than they are," says the designer, referring to elongated shapes like marquis, oval, rectangular radiant, or pear. "Second, do your research and explore all the options. There is a lot more to selecting a cut than just its shape, as the facet patterns of the stone (the way in which the stone is shaped to create its sparkle) really determines the overall look of the stone. Educate yourself on the various cuts and facet patterns and how they effect the look of the stone." Finally, the designer encourages brides to think about style. "Think about the overall look of the ring you want. Do you want something that feels more antique? Do you want a rose or yellow gold setting? Do you want a more understated ring? A beautiful stone can be completely undermined by a poorly designed ring, and vice versa, so it's important to think about the two as a pair."
Photo: Courtesy of Lizzie Mandler
Thinking about your own wedding-day look? Mandler's top jewelry styling tip isn't what you'd expect.
"Make sure to clean your engagement ring! Have your ring professionally cleaned before your wedding. Your wedding band will be brand new, and you want your engagement ring to look brand new too. In terms of other jewelry on your wedding day, focus on choosing pieces that complement the silhouette of your dress and always try on jewelry options with your dress ahead of your big day. Let your dress and your rings be the focus and keep the rest of your jewelry simple."