Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Ring Part 1: Design

**Warning - Super long post with lots of pictures**

Everyone wants to know what the rings looks like, don't they?  Well I knew what the ring was going to look like LONG before it ever made it's way to my finger.  See, when I care about something, I research the hell out of it.  Then I get creative, and I get obsessive.  I get stubborn, and I usually get my way.  (Right, honey?)  And I cared about the ring. 

My engagement ring (and eventually wedding ring, too) are really the only nice pieces of jewelry I will likely ever own.  I don't wear a lot of jewelry - with one significant exception.  I am obsessed with big earrings!

(Check back to see how I'll try to incorporate this into the wedding)!  The majority of these earrings come from places like Claire's or Target, so they were...  highly affordable, if you know what I mean - which you need if you're going to own over 150 pairs of earrings (no lie.) 

If we were going to spend big money on the ring, I damn sure wanted to L-O-V-E it.  I also wanted it to reflect my personal aesthetic.  I wandered around in several jewelry stores and looked at the engagement rings there, but I just couldn't find anything that felt like me.  So I turned to my best friend...  the internet.  And it was all downhill from there.

My fiance knew all along that I was working on this.  Honestly, I don't think he'd have it any other way.  He wanted me to love it and he probably preferred to live without the pressure of having to pick something that would live on my hand for-ev-er. 

For those of you wanting to take on designing your own ring, here are my tips about the various phases of the design process.

Research  phase - Compile a folder full of the zillion rings that you ooh and ahh over.  They need not be similar at all.  Some you may like outright.  Some you may like because of a particular details.  Some you may like just because the overall feel is what you're going for.  Also include rings that are examples of what you definitely do NOT like.  This will be helpful for your fiance so he'll know what to stay away from.  The goal here is just to start seeing if there are some things you tend to gravitate towards more than others. 

Some key points you will want to clarify during this phase are listed below.  You don't necessarily need to finalize these, but you should start getting an idea of what fits into these 3 different categories:  1)  Absolutely MUST HAVE this element; 2) Like this element, but it's not a deal-breaker; and 3) Definitely CANNOT LIVE WITH this element.

1)  Stone shape

(For me, I knew I wanted a square or rectangle-cut stone that was more "window pane" than "sparkly" in appearance.)
    2) Number of stones
    (I learned that I love a beautiful center stone, but I wanted more than just a solitaire.)
      3) Type of stones


      Colored Gemstone:

      Other stones/materials:


        (Because I wanted my design to be clean and simple, I opted for all clear stones.)

        4) Layout of stones

        (I bookmarked tons of halo rings, so I knew that's what I wanted, but it was challenging to find a halo that wasn't sparkly or princessy.  Those rings are beautiful, but they weren't me.)

        5) Setting styles



        V Prong:


        (Bezel-set had a sort of Art Deco feel that I really thought would go nicely with the more clean-cut stones I was considering.)

        6) Color of Metal -

        (either sterling silver, white gold, or platinum usually - although there are other options as well)

        Yellow Gold:

        Rose Gold:

        Mixed Metals:

        Other Materials/Mixes:

        (I'm a silver metal girl, all the way.)

        7) Profile of the ring (this can be seen as both the distance between your finger and the top of the ring as well as the distance between amount that the ring head rises above the band)

        Low Profile (center stone peaks somewhat above the band, but overall look sits low to the finger):

        Relatively Flat Profile (center stone does not rise much above the band, and it sits low to the finger):

        Tall Profile (center stone sits high above band and high above the finger):

        (I knew I wanted a flatter ring so that it wouldn't catch as often on hair, pants pockets, etc.)

        8) If you're going to have a separate wedding band, you should consider how/if you want the two rings to fit together. 



        Band on each side of ring:

        Band Under Head of Engagement Ring:

        Space Between Band and E-Ring:

        (I'm such a stickler for symmetry and neatness that I wanted the band to sit flush against the band of my engagement ring.)

        Creative phase:  Once you've decided on elements you like, begin digitally chopping up your inspiration photos and putting them together in some sort of photo manipulation program.  (Even though I have Photoshop Elements, I actually did this in Microsoft Publisher because it was more simple for me.)  Guesstimate things like how wide the face of the ring should be on your finger and the size of the stone(s) and settings that will be needed to accomplish this.  Once you've created some composite pictures of rings you like, now you move on to the obsessive phase.  (Here are some of mine as I was in progress.  I've lost the original sources of the composite images.)

        Obsessive phase:  What you're looking for now is the approximate cost of this ring.  This should include the cost of the center stone, the side stones, the metal, and the labor to create the ring.  You likely won't know all of these things at this point, so it helps to find other people who've created rings similar to yours to use their numbers as a ballpark figure.  I found several helpful threads on that gave me some good information about the cost requirements for a ring like the one I wanted.  One way to go about this is to create "ideal" specs for your ring (size/quality of the center stone, type of metal, number if side stones, etc.).  Another way is to create "at minimum" specs for your ring.  Pick the method that works best for you.

        If you have a clear sense of what your fiance wants to spend on this heavenly creation of yours,

        (and I highly suggest that you get a clearer sense, if you don't know already), you can begin manipulating elements of your dream ring to better fit yours and your fiance's dream budget.  You can lessen the financial impact of the size/quality of the center stone, the number/shape of the side stones, the type of metal, etc.  For instance, maybe you want an eternity-setting for the band, but you'd be okay with an all-metal band.  Or maybe you want a 1.5 carat stone but you'd be totally happy with a 1-carat stone. 

        Be sure you TAKE NOTE OF ALL THIS somewhere you can pass on to your fiance.  It will be easier for him to have these specs and thus have a better sense of what he's looking for.  You might want to call this document/folder on your computer something like... oh, I don't know...  "everything you ever wanted to know about my engagement ring."  :-)  Yep, sounds good to me.  In this creatively-titled document, it's super useful to include a document listing ranges/preferences that you could live within, such as (and I quote):

        "As for the halo stones, there are picture of 8-baguette haloes and 12-baguette haloes in the folder, and I don’t have a strong preference one way or the other (depends on the day ).  Regarding how the halo baguettes are set, the picture called “8 baguettes halo with bezel set center stone” also has bezel-set baguettes.  The picture called “Daniel K design (12 baguettes, bezel set)” seems to have the baguettes in some sort of invisible setting.  I will let you choose on that one, because I don’t have a strong preference one way or the other, and I trust your eye. "

        You should also include all the inspiration pictures and composite pictures, titled with helpful names such as "love this ring overall but do not like that center stone sits up above halo."  You get my drift.

        Stubborn phase:  This one is simple.  Save the folder "everything you ever wanted to know about my engagement ring" onto a flash drive.  Insert flash drive into fiance's computer and copy said folder on to his desktop.  Just to be sure he doesn't miss it, email fiance to tell him said folder is awaiting him on his desktop.

        Stay tuned for The Ring Part 2: Creation, and I swear I'll show you the ring then!  (You didn't think I forgot, did you?  Not a freakin' chance!)

        Anyone else out there have a ring custom-designed?

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