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Guide: Custom Designing an Engagement Ring

The experience of shopping for an engagement ring is daunting for most of us; it isn’t an area many have much experience in or even much knowledge of what to look for. There is an abundance of radio commercials, billboards and magazine ads that give us snippets of what to look for and why we should buy exactly their product; but what really separates all these pieces of jewellery from each other? What makes one diamond ring better than another?

An engagement ring is such an important piece of jewellery in your and your significant others’ life, and a piece of jewellery that will be part of your lives forever. It is a ring that will symbolize the promise you made each other about spending a life-time together. It is a ring that the receiver will look at for hours upon hours when first receiving it and starting to wear it, and it is a ring that will put a smile on her face every single time she looks at it. She will remember how you proposed and how special the occasion was to the two of you. She will show her friends and she will think about what kind of wedding band she would like to add to the ring, for when you tie the knot. It is a ring that she will proudly carry on her hand as the official symbol to the rest of the world that she has promised to spend her life with you.

To be able to capture exactly all of that emotion and significance, perhaps an ‘off the shelf’ ring isn’t unique enough for the two of you? Perhaps there are colours or patterns that mean something very special that you would like to incorporate. To truly capture the journey you have had together so far and the importance of the decision to ask her to spend a life-time with you, you may want to have something created that is as special and unique as your relationship is. In one gesture you will show your significant other exactly how much you thought about the design, comfort and aesthetic of the ring, to make it the perfect ring for her.

There is a perfect ring out there for everyone, but you as a consumer have to choose what it is that makes it the perfect ring for you and your partner. Sometimes it is a particular designer or brand that is important, sometimes it is a particular pattern or gemstone that will decide the look and therefore the supplier of the ring, or it can be a practicality factor. Any of these factors are equally as important in order for you to be able to propose with the perfect ring for your perfect match! Browse with the recipient in mind, but also with what is comfortable for you. Search for what impresses you and that you know will bring tears to her eyes of complete joy and sheer awe.

It is important to work with someone who you feel comfortable with and someone that truly listens to your requests and ideas on the topic; whether just buying off the shelf or having something custom made. Even if you don’t necessarily know what style you are looking for, a great jewellery designer should inquire about the style of the person you are proposing to; perhaps if they use their hands a lot in their profession and what kind of activities and hobbies they often enjoy. All of these factors can be important guidelines in the process of finding the right ring. Someone who works within the medical field will perhaps not be able to wear a diamond ring set high with delicate claws around the stone; as it will snag on gloves. Someone who predominately has a desk job and is diligent about taking her jewellery off while doing work around the house perhaps is more suited for something delicate but decorative. And if you spend most of your summers hiking, climbing, camping and mountain-biking, perhaps a sturdier ring and setting of the gemstone is a main priority.

If your significant other knows exactly what kind of ring she wants and she has found it somewhere, you should purchase that piece of jewellery from that particular jewellery store. A ring that is made as part of a production line is always going to be more affordable than a ring that is specially made to your requests. Often there is a misconception about how a custom jeweller is able to re-create an existing design for a lower price-tag, but this is never the case. If you are looking for a specific ring and ask anyone but the original designer to re-create it for you, you will get a piece that has been interpreted by other people that may not share the same design and goldsmithing approach and quality as the original designer and maker. Where a higher karat gold has been used and top quality diamonds were put in place in the original piece, you may end up with something that is a pale comparison in lustre and brilliance. Also the integrity of the ring shank is important; lower karat golds as much as they are hard, are not very dense, which means it wears out quickly. If a ring has been executed primarily out of a price point perspective, that may mean that you have less material in your ring than what will last you a life time.

If you admire someone’s work, and you know that this is what your partner wants, trying to have it re-created will never be ‘the ring she wanted’. Honour designers and craftsmen who with their expertise create pieces that dazzle and impress you and ask them directly for possibilities of customization, if for instance the original gemstone shape isn’t right, or if the price point isn’t feasible.

If you are unable to find a ring that speaks to you, or the ring you had envisioned, this is when a custom jeweller is your perfect solution. As with all areas of design, there are going to be an abundance of jewellers offering custom work but all with slightly different areas of expertise or style. If you are looking for a vintage styled ring, perhaps there will be a custom jeweller that will be more used to executing that technique than others; and same goes for contemporary and modern designs.

Browse around their online presence and get a feel for the work; design and goldsmithing quality, and book an appointment to meet the designer and goldsmith if possible, so that you feel assured that this person will be able to execute what you are looking for. It is perfectly appropriate to browse the styles of, and meet several different jewellers so that you can get a feel for the integrity and approach of the person who’s hands you will be leaving your ideas in. When you decide to go down the path of having something custom made you want to work with someone that really understands your requests but also can guide you through the technical parts of creating a ring, so that you will receive a ring that will last a lifetime but also match the idea that you came with.

Once you have narrowed down the style of ring you would like to have created you will move on to the vast topic of picking the perfect gemstone or diamond for the ring; something that there is an abundance of information about on the internet but not always as straightforwardly presented as it could be.