Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Ring Part 2: Creation

Now that you've designed a perfect ring, it's time for the best part - making it a reality! *whee*clap*squeal* 

In our case, Mr. NM really wanted to take on this project himself.  It felt important to him to be the person solely responsible for getting it made and that the final outcome be a surprise for me (well, as much a surprise as is possible when I had designed it myself).

In order to adequately walk you through the ring creation process, I saw down with Mr. NM last night so he could tell me the whole story.  Even though I already knew most of the bits and pieces, it was thrilling to hear it all over again!  I'm going to take his words and try to fit them into some coherent outline of steps for you (ya know, because I'm meticulous about these things.  And he isn't.  Duh!)

For those of you who are planning to have the ring/proposal be a surprise, keep in mind that Mr. NM went through all these steps completely without my knowledge.  If you don't care so much about the surprise (or couldn't live with being surprised, cuz I know that feeling, too!) you can absolutely do these steps together.

(All statements in quotation marks are Mr. NM's exact words.)

Step 1:  Get Quotes

Mr. NM started the process in January by requesting an estimate from an online retailer I had suggested in the infamous folder of information I gave to him.  That quote came back "ridiculously high," which discouraged Mr. NM enough that he "abandoned the project" for about 3 months.  In March he again began emailing for estimates, creating one email with all the pertinent details and sending it out to somewhere between 15 and 25 custom jewelers he found online.  From that group, he heard back from 8-10 jewelers.  "Some of the quotes were outrageous."  Mr. NM told me the number of the highest quote, and it was almost exactly double our budget.

Step 2: Pick a Jeweler
Based on the information they provided to him in their estimates (cost, quality of materials, general sense of whether they seemed knowledgeable and trustworthy), Mr. NM picked a jeweler who said they could work within the budget.  Mr. NM sent them pictures (again, from my file), and they sent back ever-more-detailed estimates that listed specific diamond weights for the various parts, costs of those diamonds at that weight, cost of the metal needed to hold everything together, etc.  Mr. NM was feeling good that it was all coming together. 

Step 3: Confirm Everything Before Paying a Penny
The jeweler sent a final detailed estimate, after which Mr. NM was supposed to send the initial $300 for the jeweler to provide a computer design of the ring and thus begin the actual process of creating it.  Mr. NM carefully looked over this estimate and noticed a slight omission.  Apparently there was a miscommunication and the jeweler hadn't included the two sidetrap diamonds (one on each side of the halo), because they thought for some reason that Mr. NM had decided he didn't want them.

The addition of these two diamonds was going to put the ring $1000 over budget, or it could've been on-budget but with a lower quality center stone.  Mr. NM again became discouraged, so he took a break from this jeweler and decided to look for someone else.
Step 4: Pick Another Jeweler - One Who Knocks Your Socks Off
(optional, of course, if you're already left socks-less from your first jeweler)

This time Mr. NM decided to give local jewelers the old college try.  He looked on Yelp and found Chabo's amazing reviews and ratings.  Armed with a printed out picture of my hack-job edited ring image, he went in to meet Rafi.  Before Mr. NM could utter a word of his requirements for the center stone, Rafi "rattled off" the exact specs Mr. NM had on his list.  Rafi told Mr. NM that he could create the ring within our budget, but only if they could buy the diamond from the wholesaler that day because supposedly diamond prices on Asscher cuts were going up 2 days later. 

(Mr. NM independently verified this later that day, but he didn't know in that moment whether this was truth or the hard sell).  I'm proud of Mr. NM that he didn't force himself to make an on-the-spot decision.  I'm also a little bit in love with Rafi who, because Mr. NM was really towing the line, went ahead and bought the Asscher-cut diamond, had it sent to the store, and said Mr. NM was under no obligation to buy it if he didn't like it once it arrived. 

Step 5: Confirm Costs/Details and Put Down a Deposit

Mr. NM got to see the loose center stone in person and look at it with the little diamond looky-thingy (okay, just looked this up and it's called a loupe, apparently).

Rafi reiterated that this diamond (which was way better than Mr. NM's/my "ideal" specs) was $1000 over budget, but he offered to split that cost with Mr. NM because he thought that ring would be far more lovely with that stone than any other.  After thinking long and hard about this, Mr. NM agreed to go $500 over budget.  Two days later he brought Rafi a check for half of the total agreed-upon amount, and Rafi started to work his magic!

Step 6: Computer Model

A computer model of the ring was created for Mr. NM to review.  This seemed to be generated as a result of scanning the image Mr. NM brought to them and inputting measurements and dimensions.  Then somehow the computer magically "spits out something similar."  After the initial review, the model was altered to incorporate Mr. NM's feedback.  Mr. NM said this step was "really difficult because the computer model does not approximate the ring.  It's very angular, and the proportions are different.  You see way more metal in the picture than is actually there in ring."

above pictures above are the actual 3-d computer models of my engagement ring and wedding band

Step 7: Wax Model

Once the computer model was finalized and approved, the jeweler moved on to a wax model.  Here's what Mr. NM had to say about the wax model: "It's an exact version pretty much.  You can pop in the center stone and see how it looks.  The only thing that sucks is that it's 30% bigger than the actual ring.  I thought to myself, 'F*ck, she's gonna hate this.  It's huge!'  In your brain you don't know what 30% less actually looks like.  This thing is literally an imagination the whole time.  You've seen a computer model and a wax model, but never what it will actually look like."

Not being a blogger himself, Mr. NM doesn't have pictures of my wax model.  (By the way, *boo* to that!  I would've loved to see pictures.  Hell, I would've loved to have the wax model itself!)  But here are some examples:

At this point, you can still make changes, and Mr. NM went in on two separate occasions to verify that the wax model was exactly what he wanted.

Step 8:  Your Ring Is Built

Computer model - check!  Wax model - check!  So now the diamonds are sent off to the diamond cutter, to be custom-fitted for your ring design. 

Step 9: Pick Up The Ring / Make Final Payment / Leave Yourself Some Wiggle Room

As the date approached for the ring to be completed, Mr. NM was trying to plan a proposal while also preparing to defend his dissertation (say what?!  Yes, my man is fan-freaking-tastic.)  He planned the proposal for the Friday night of his dissertation defense, but at the last minute he found out that the ring wasn't going to be ready in time because the diamond cutting took longer than expected.  We rescheduled our "dissertation celebration dinner" (at least, that's what I thought it was) for the next night.  On Saturday Mr. NM took a trip to Target and also clandestinely picked up my ring and made his final payment.  That day, the day he planned to propose, was the first day he'd seen the actual ring. 

Then he really did have to pick up some stuff from Target for us.  Nothing like walking around Target -  in sweatpants, looking for toilet paper, with a gigantic ring box in your pocket, knowing you're going to propose that night - to get the warm fuzzy romantical feelings flowing!

And that's how it all went down.  But our ring journey was not quite over yet, so stay tuned.  If anyone else out there had a custom ring created, did you get to keep your wax model???

1 comment:

  1. No one keeps the wax model -- it's actually destroyed to make the ring. The process is called lost-wax casting.



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