My entire life I knew I wanted to pick out my engagement ring. It's a sentimental piece of jewelry that will be part of my wardrobe forever. I never liked the idea of the guy picking the ring and seeing it for the first time while he proposed. Plus, I am picky with my jewelry.
It was about a year ago, when Dan and I decided we were ready to get engaged. We felt financially and emotionally secure individually and as a couple. Before we even went to look at rings, Dan decided on a price range he was willing to pay.
When we began engagement ring shopping, neither of us thought about custom designing the engagement ring. It's now one of the many memories we will share together. When I look down and glance at my hand, I absolutely love the fact that Dan and I designed my engagement ring together.
With that, I thought it would be useful to share how we custom designed my ring, and the lessons learned along the way!
1. Picking out the Diamond Shape | I had no idea what kind of diamond shape I wanted. We began walking through the NYC Diamond District to window shop. I tried on all the different shapes to see how they looked on my finger.
+ Lessons Learned:
At first, learning about diamonds seemed overwhelming. To educate ourselves, we spoke to multiple jewelers and did research through Google and Pinterest on the 4 C's. This helped us better understand how diamond pricing can fluctuate.
As we were ring shopping, Dan mentioned he was happy we we're doing this together because it was much easier than guessing or asking my friends & family what I wanted (obviously I would like whatever he gave me, but why take the chance)
2. Finding a Jeweler | After a few months of looking, we decided we wanted an oval shaped diamond. We began contacting jewelers and discussing oval diamonds in Dan's price range. After months of talking with multiple jewelers, viewing GIA certificates and going to see potential diamonds in person, we found our oval diamond!
We purchased the diamond and designed the ring with Precious Metals Sudbury, a boutique jewelry store in my hometown. Since Dan and I live in NYC, we worked virtually with our ring designer, Ilah Cibis, via phone calls, emails, and texts. It was really easy and saved us a ton of time. We also liked that Ilah could make us anything we wanted, and we weren't limited to any style setting.
+ Lessons Learned:
To help us price compare diamonds, Dan and I looked up GIA certificates from a variety of online diamond stores. We continuously worked on finding the best price together. Some online retailers I would recommend are James Allen and Blue Nile.
Each jeweler will charge you a different price for a diamond. Get the GIA certificate for the diamond you love, and see which jeweler will give you the best price!
Most jewelers don't keep many diamonds in their store. They have to order them from a vendor. It's important to work with your jeweler to see multiple options of a diamond in your price range before picking "the one"
Even though Dan was paying, this was the first big financial purchase we decided on as a couple. We would walk away from a deal, together, if the diamond wasn't perfect, in our budget, etc.
3. Designing the Ring Setting | Dan and I sent Ilah screenshots of Pinterest and Instagram photos we loved as "inspiration" for our ring setting. We liked the idea of a solitaire band, but wanted to do something a little different. While looking at Pinterest, I came across something called an "invisible halo". It's a halo of pavé diamonds beneath the stone and can only be seen from a side view.
After sending Ilah all our ideas, she created pictures and a 3D print of our ring! It was so exciting to see what the invisible halo, band and diamond would look like together. I could literally put the 3D printed ring on my finger.
+ Lessons Learned:
Find a jeweler with experience making custom rings by looking at their online portfolio. Some jewelers we spoke to stated they can make a "custom ring", but their version of "custom" was a pre-designed setting previously made for other customers.
Keep making adjustments to the design until it's EXACTLY what you want. You won't hurt the jewelers feelings because they want you to LOVE what they make you!
4. Finalizing the Ring | Once Dan and I approved our ring setting with Ilah, I removed myself from the design process. I didn't want to know when it would be completed or when Dan would receive it because I wanted the proposal to be a surprise.
When Dan got on one knee and opened the box, it was a complete surprise to see the ring! I never saw the completed engagement ring in person (except the loose diamond) before Dan proposed. It was BETTER than I expected it to be!
If you are able to, I highly recommend designing your engagement ring with your significant other! If you have any other questions or want to know more about the design process, let me know in the comments below!