When it comes to an engagement ring, the only thing that really matters is that the recipient loves it. Most of the wedding jewelry I design is custom-made. As a result, I’ve done all different styles of engagement rings to suit different tastes, ranging from an Asscher-diamond stone in a simple, classic pronged setting …
I can do a streamlined, modern look …
… or something ornate, with blackened metal for a vintage feel.
Of course, I do have my personal preferences, and what I prefer is something out of the ordinary.
But I consistently appreciate an interesting, individualized setting and good proportions. Back in 2012, I expressed a dislike of a huge center diamond set in an “extra-skinny, micro-pave-diamond, engagement-ring shank that seems to be the hot celebrity style lately.” Well, my dislike of that style has grown along with its popularity. I feel like every celebrity engagement ring features a diamond the size of a bread plate teetering on a band the width of a hair. Obviously, if the woman loves it, who cares what I think? But I always wonder if the customer is succumbing to peer pressure because this style is seen so often that she thinks this is her best and only option.
To me, that look is such an over-the-top expression of the old-fashioned jewelers’ advice to set a diamond in the thinnest band possible in order to make the gem look larger. Honey, if you’ve got a 10-carat stone, you don’t have to make it look big. It IS big! As for smaller stones, an important-looking setting can make the diamond look important too. Gem dealers who have been in the business for decades regularly overestimate the size of my diamond — seen above — by a carat or more thanks to its chunky setting. A friend named Judy had her eye on my ring too, and the first engagement-ring redesign I did was for her. Judy didn’t wear her own engagement ring because, while the diamond was excellent quality, the stone was just over half a carat. That would work fine for most people, but Judy was 6 feet tall and partial to bold accessories, so her ring didn’t match her style. I took her stone and turned it into the center of “my” ring, as she requested.
Since that job, I’ve done a lot of redesigns. I consider it one of my specialties. Sometimes I’m working with a new bride, like my client Tracey. For someone like her, I might take the diamonds out of Grandma’s old ring …
… and create a more modern ring …
… making sure that the ring stacks perfectly with the already-purchased Tiffany wedding band.
A new bride isn’t always repurposing heirlooms, however. Clever Heather realized that a pair of diamond stud earrings that she never wore would make good side stones for an engagement ring loosely inspired by my Siobhan perma-stacked stacking rings.
I found Heather a center stone to match the earrings.
Other redesign requests come from women who have been married a long time, and, like Judy, realize that their old ring doesn’t represent their taste anymore. I had fun turning Susan’s original engagement ring into another Siobhan-inspired stacking-ring style.
I never expected the Siobhan ring to inspire so many engagement rings, but my latest redesign — and January’s Jewel of the Month — is another perma-stacked stacking ring. Last year, I got such a nice email out of the blue from new client Helen, inquiring about a redesign. She needed to adjust the size of her ring, and, while she was at it, she figured she could do a new look. As she wrote, “I am more of a ‘statement ring’ person. Chunky designs, wide flat bands and stackers, etc.” She sent me photos of her original ring …
… and attached a photo of Susan’s engagement ring for inspiration. I want to make Siobhan-inspired rings for the world now! But I also want to be sure each one is unique, so I was pleased that Helen had an emerald-cut (rectangular) center diamond. I hadn’t used one of those in a stacking-style ring yet. First, I sent her this highly technical sketch for her approval.
I later sent her a nicer drawing!
Then I suggested a platinum center band and 18K rose gold outer bands, and Helen approved of that too, as well as the budget.
There was an unexpectedly challenging aspect of the job for my gem setter: We discovered that the accent diamonds were all different sizes, varying in both width and depth. The old setting hid the differences, and we had to be sure the new setting did too. Here’s the final result.
Like my other perma-stacked stacking rings, the bands of Helen’s ring have a wide range of movement, but they can’t go bouncing off in all directions because of the slender gold wire that attaches them in the back.
You can see the ring in action in this video.
Someone got a redesigned engagement ring in time for the holidays! Rose gold and platinum with the original diamonds. It’s my perma-stacked stacking ring style. The bands are made separately and then attached. #jewelry #rings #engagementring #weddingring #jewelrydesign #rosegold #platinum #stackingrings #bridal #engagement #customjewelry #jewelryvideo
When Helen received the ring, she sent me an email — with the subject line, “Plotzing … I am plotzing!” — that said, “I LOVE it! My husband loves it!! Such beautiful work and it fits like a glove.” I want to emphasize that because, in my experience,the men are always happy when the women are happy. When it comes to engagement-ring shopping (for straight couples), there’s a real “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” thing going on. As I’ve written in the past, the men are basically desperate to get it right. Meanwhile, women often perceive an emotional stake where there really is none, so if they have a Sex and the City moment in which they receive a ring that’s not to their taste, they feel obligated to keep it because “that’s what he picked for me.” Trust me, wimmins! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
“The typical straight guy has no idea what to get you. He picks the safest option and hopes for the best. He’s not emotionally invested in the ring setting, only in your happiness. If you tell him that you don’t like the ring, he’ll be bummed that he guessed wrong, but ultimately relieved when you have something you love.”
That’s why I prefer the woman be involved in the design from the start. We’re all adults here, right? You’ve certainly discussed your future. You might as well discuss your ring! Even if you know what you’re getting, you can still experience a big, romantic, surprising proposal like my client Lori did. Another thing I like to remind women is that you don’t have your groom-to-be pick your wedding dress that you’re only going to wear one day, but you have this possibly-not-style-conscious dude trying to choose a ring that you’ll wear for decades. Take pity on him and help him out!
Helen, enjoy your new ring! And anyone else interested in getting a new engagement ring or revamping an old one can email me at info at wendybrandes dot com.