If you're the type of bride who craves creative control over every aspect of the wedding, why not include a completely personalized engagement ring in the mix? By designing a custom ring with your significant other, you can ensure a final product you'll cherish indefinitely — and one that is completely unique. But how does a bride even begin the ring design process with the plethora of stones and metals on the market to choose from? Custom jewelry design pros Meredith Kahn and Jennifer Gandia of Greenwich Jewelers share their expertise on exactly how to create a ring that evokes your personal aesthetic and exemplifies the bond you share with your fiancé.
1. Have Inspiring Images on Hand
"I think the most important thing to have is visual cues, visual inspiration," Gandia advises. The creative director cites Pinterest boards and Instagram images as particularly utilitarian when designing a custom ring.
2. Find a Jeweler Whose Aesthetic Mirrors Your Own
Working with a jewelry designer whose quintessential style appeals to your design sensibility will ensure you end up with a ring you adore. "Most clients like to work with my collection as a base, but put their own special touches on it," Kahn elaborates. Gandia adds that many designers welcome slight tweaks to their signature designs as well as completely custom creations depending on the bride's preferences.
3. Begin with the Basics
Given the enormous array of choices brides face when designing a custom ring, Kahn prefers to clarify her clients' design desires by beginning with three fundamental factors. "I start with budget, timing, and ring size. Those three things are a must, otherwise we are in the dark," Kahn explains.
4. Selecting a Dazzling Diamond
Kahn advises brides to let logic fall by the wayside and allow instinct to lead the way in selecting a stone. "A diamond is not about what it says on the piece of paper, the GIA rating, or how much it costs," Kahn reminds brides. "They all sparkle in their own unique way. The best thing to do is to hide all the specs, and choose with your heart."
5. Collaborate on a Sketch and Wax Model
Gandia explains that brides will first be presented with a rendering, or sketch, of the ring from their jeweler to ensure the ring visually satisfies their requirements. Once the sketch is approved by the bride, the jeweler will fashion a wax model of the ring. Gandia notes that some jewelers will use a CAD CAM, or computerized rendering of the ring, for particularly detailed designs.
6. Allow Time for Casting and Further Customizations
"If the client is happy with [the ring], we move into casting. The ring will be cast, cleaned, and then the stones are set. Customizations such as micro-pave, Gandia elaborates, are created by hand by the jeweler in this stage. After the ring is set and polished, the statement sparkler is ready to slipped onto the finger of the lucky bride-to-be.