Hello, and happy Friday! Last week I shared with you guys my exciting engagement announcement, and I’m back with the big reveal on the ring I created with my fiancé Ivan—and with my reflections on the process of designing your own engagement ring. The tips I gleaned from my experience of course extend to custom designing any piece of commemorative jewelry with your sweetie, from an anniversary to the celebration of a new addition to the family. It’s a process I’d recommend to anyone, not only because it’s the number one way to get exactly the ring you want, but also because it’s the perfect opportunity to crystalize (pun intended!) the intention you have for the next stage of your lives together. Oh, and because it’s a total blast too!
First, Shamelessly Try On Everything: The engagement ring I’m wearing today is so perfect to me that it already feels like natural extension of my hand. But I started out a total babe in the woods in these matters and had absolutely no idea what ring I wanted—or if I even wanted one at all! So Ivan and I began by trying on a seemingly endless parade of diamonds and settings at a variety of local stores. This in-person part of the journey is so important, since its impossible to know how a particular cut or setting will suit your hand until you try it on. Finger shape and proportion are as important as personal taste in the decision of which engagement ring to choose. What’s more, the diamond grading system for cut, color, and clarity can be a little hard to grasp, but having a professional show you examples of the options helps tease out their subtleties. By the time Ivan and I stopped window shopping, I knew that a round diamond most flattered my fingers; that anything bigger than a carat overwhelmed my small hands (much to Ivan’s relief!); and that stones in the near-colorless D-H range worked best with my skin tone. We still hadn’t found a ring that felt like the one, but we were several steps closer at least!
Find a Great Partner: Once we’d narrowed down the field, Ivan and I focused on who we wanted to work with to design the ring. We went with Diamond Foundry for a host of reasons. For starters, while the brand’s sustainable lab-made diamonds are structurally identical to earth-mined diamonds, they come without the human and environmental cost of their earth-mined counterparts. A zero-impact diamond appealed not only to my moral sensibilities, but also to my superstitions about the positive or negative energy a stone carries. (The latter was also a factor in my decision not to get a vintage ring.) Secondly, while Diamond Foundry provides the cut gems, they work with jewelry designers around the country to set them. Through their site we found Zaven of Zaven Collection and immediately were drawn to the breadth of his skill and the depth of his experience—as well as to the fact that he was a 10-minute drive from us! Halfway through the first visit we knew we’d found our guy. Zaven is a second-generation master jeweler, had just gotten engaged himself so related completely to our desire to create our ideal ring, could tweak even the smallest details to our exact specifications, and would be crafting everything on site. That meant that the entire ring, from stone to setting, would be made in California. What a way to rep our home state!
Poll Everyone You Know: Ivan and I left Zaven’s gallery having further culled our options to a final two: a round variation on the Bezeled Grove, and the decidedly more blinged-out Blossom Pave Halo. I adored them both equally, but for different reasons. The bezeled style felt truly versatile, modern yet classic at the same time; and the halo setting represented the grand romantic gesture I never thought I’d have but that now seemed within my grasp. For a while I was set on the halo. I adored the way it sat on my hand, and it made my heart race the way I felt an engagement ring should. Yet in the back of my mind I wondered if it was too flashy, too opulent, too over-the-top. Was it wrong to want a ring so elaborate? Would I seem gauche? Worse, would I tire of it quickly, regret not going with the more sensible choice. But then again, since when was an engagement ring about being sensible?
For days I went back and forth between the two, asking everyone I encountered their opinion. The answers I received were predictably more telling of people’s personalities than they were helpful in my decision. My minimalist-minded mother preferred the bezel. My starry-eyed friends loved the halo. The ever-supportive and diplomatic Ivan told me to get whichever my heart desired. I exited each conversation with no more direction than when I entered, but I certainly had fun including my loved ones in the butterfly-tummy excitement. Ultimately, though, a chat with my wise and philosophical friend Brian did indeed turn my thinking. When presented with my dilemma, he said: “This ring will undoubtedly go right! This ring will undoubtedly go wrong! It’s like marriage itself. While you hope that the decision you’re making is the honest one, you really step out with a bit of faith. Like your partnership with Ivan, every day you’ll be given the choice of whether you want to wear it or not. Every day you get to reaffirm (or not) that it’s still working. And while you may say, ‘This is the one for life,’ it’s also okay to preemptively extend some grace to future Anne who may decide that it no longer is the one, even as you don’t want to have to do that. In the end though, it’s just a ring, a ring that pales in comparison to what it represents.”
Sleep On It, Then Go with Your Gut: I went to bed that night with Brian’s words floating in my head, more unsure of my choice than ever but eased somewhat by his permission to stop worrying about making the perfect choice. Because truly, in our impossible quest to predict the future (“Will I still love this ring in 10 years?!”) we lose sight of what power we have in the present. We tie ourselves up in knots with our worries that our lives and tastes and opinions will change, when really change is the only thing we shouldn’t worry about, because it’s inevitable! We can control only the meaning and intention we infuse into today—and with that chosen intention we can but color and shape our tomorrows. Thus it was that the following morning I woke up crackling like a bolt of lighting and texted Ivan my decision:
We immediately emailed Zaven with our choice, a 1-carat round bezel solitaire in 18k gold, and a week later Ivan picked up the finished ring. He did indeed wait a while before proposing to me, but that’s a whole other story for a whole other post! In the meantime, I can report that I haven’t questioned our decision for a second. We’re moving full steam ahead with the adventure of planning a wedding and a life together, always mindful to the fact that plans can only go so far; that all we have is the present moment and what we bring to it; and that the ring on my finger is a beautiful symbol of our commitment to showing up each day with our best and brightest foot forward!
A HUGE thank you goes out to Diamond Foundry for partnering on this post with me. I’m so beyond grateful to include them in this exciting time in my life! Thanks as always to you, readers, for supporting the brands that enable me to bring you fresh content daily. All opinions are and always will be my own. Oh, and these beautiful photos are by Monica Wang Photography, with velvet ring boxes by The Mrs. Box!