Designing an engagement ring can be daunting to say the least – especially if it’s you picking the ring!! Thankfully one of my favourite independent jewellers – Emma Clarkson Webb – is here to demystify the design process and show you How to Design the Perfect Ring.
By Rosie Lillis
The Benefits of Designing your Own Ring
The benefits of designing your own engagement ring are endless: you really can have exactly what you want made by some of the most skilled craftsmen in the country and still pay a fraction of the cost of a Bond Street jeweller. British jeweller Emma – who specialises in bespoke engagement rings agrees: There really is no compromise with bespoke: you can have your dream ring made to your exact specifications. The bespoke process can seem intimidating and expensive – especially if you have never had something custom-made before – but my role as a jeweller is to make the bespoke process as memorable, as transparent and as stress-free as possible, from the initial consultation to the finished piece.”
First things first – budget. ‘There are so many clichés about spending the equivalent of three months’ salary,’ says Emma. ‘But I always say to my clients they should spend enough that they feel a bit uncomfortable handing over the money, but not to spend so much that they can’t afford the honeymoon.’ Most designers will have a starting price for their designs which should give you a better feel for whether your budget will fit theirs but it is also worth having a budget in mind to allow the designer to suggest styles and stones that will fit within your price range. Be sensible and don’t bankrupt yourself and remember that size doesn’t always matter… you can still design something incredibly unique by opting for smaller stones or a diamond alternative: sapphires, tsavorites and tourmalines make really beautiful centre stones for a fraction of the price of a diamond.
Keep Your Timeline Front of Mind
Secondly make sure that you keep your proposal timeline front of mind: many bespoke jewellers can take between 4-6 weeks from initial design to finished piece and in the run-up to ‘proposal season’ (between Christmas and Valentine’s Day) this lead-time can be even longer. The bottom line: if you’re planning to propose with a bespoke ring then make sure that you leave plenty of time in advance of the big day to avoid disappointment. If you’re planning on keeping the proposal under wraps then you’ll also need to know your partner’s ring-size: to avoid raising suspicion Emma recommends using a pen and paper to trace the inside diameter of an existing ring at home, which you can then give to your jeweller.
Emma stresses the importance of thinking about your partner’s personal style: “Have a think about the kind of jewellery your wife or husband to-be normally wears: do they prefer a certain colour gold? Do they have a minimal style or do they take a more-is-more approach to the way they wear their jewellery? Do they gravitate towards vintage, or is their aesthetic more contemporary? It’s also worth having a look at the way they dress: is there a lot of colour in their wardrobe or are they more minimalist? An engagement ring is something that you will wear (hopefully!) for the rest of your life and it really is a reflection of your personal style, so it needs to work on quite a few levels.”. Practicality is key when it comes to choosing a ring: are they heavy-handed or delicate? It’s worth taking into account their profession and thinking about what setting styles will work better with their every-day life.
Finally don’t be afraid to ask questions: the jeweller you work with will be able to make the design process as easy as possible for you but make sure that you ask if there are any areas that you’re not sure about. Unsure as to why one diamond is more expensive than another? Ask your jeweller to give you a quick masterclass on the 4 Cs to explain why one diamond might differ in value to another stone. If provenance is your priority when designing a ring then make sure that you ask where your stones have been sourced from, if they are conflict-free and if the gold is recycled or Fairtrade. Emma advises: ‘A good jeweller should be able prove that the diamonds they use are Kimberly-certified and be able to tell you exactly where your ring was made – and ideally the names of the craftsmen who made it.’
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