Maybe you’re trying to find the perfect ring to pop the question, or maybe you’re doing a 21st-century proposal and shopping for a ring together. Or maybe you got inspired by the custom, carefully thought-out engagement ring that Prince Harry designed for Meghan Markle.
Either way, you’re joining a long tradition that spans from ancient Egypt to the 1940s ad campaign that made diamonds forever.
And there’s no better way to take the first step towards forever than working with a jeweler to design your own engagement ring. We’ve broken it down into ten easy steps.
1. Start Early
Before you pass Go and start planning the wedding, you need to start planning your engagement ring. Preferably as soon as you can.
Some people get married in just two months, while others spend years getting all the details ironed out.
Either way, it pays to be prepared when it comes to your engagement ring. Ideally, you should start planning at least two months before your proposal date.
If that seems like a long time, it’s really not as long as you think–it can take at least a month to decide on the details of your design and another six weeks for the ring to be made and shipped after you place your order.
2. Set a Budget
Once you have a timeline in place, you should figure out a budget for your custom engagement rings.
As of 2015, the average cost of an engagement ring was $4,758, which isn’t all that cheap (and that’s not even counting the wedding band).
There are various conventions related to figuring out how much you should spend on a ring. Usually, it’s based on how much you make in a year. A common rule is the one month’s salary rule, but there are several others you can use–there’s even a calculator.
Expect to Pay More for a Custom Ring
Once you know what your budget looks like, you can do some research and figure out how much you can spend on the gemstone, setting, and design.
However, you should expect to pay more for custom engagement rings. Remember, your designer will have to use original material and designs to help you create your own ring.
3. Find Your Inspiration
Once you know what kind of budget you’re working with, it’s important to get a sense of what kind of ring you’re in the market for.
There are also more designs than the classic solitaire ring, which has a certain flair but doesn’t work universally because it can catch on clothing.
For example, there’s the channel-style ring, which has a row of diamonds set in a metal channel flush with the surface of the band.
Similarly, there’s the pave setting, which has diamonds set directly next to each other on the band using beads, so less of the metal is visible.
Or, for the more modern woman, there’s the tension setting, which uses two pieces of metal to hold the gem in place using pressure. This makes the diamond appear to be floating between the metal when in actuality the metal is fitted to the stone.
Start shopping around for images–Pinterest and Instagram are good places to start. Maybe you like this stone or that setting or that metal, you’ll never know until you look.
4. Design Your Own Engagement Ring
Once you’ve collected your images, you can start to narrow in on the details.
You should take the time to figure out what your partner desires in a ring. Maybe they love the classic design their parents used, or maybe they’re more modern.
Some of this has to do with the specifics of the ring, like the metal or the gemstones.
The common culprit with engagement rings is gold, but if you’re taking the time to design a ring yourself, why stick to what’s tried and true?
Rose gold, for example, is a way to put a modern spin on a classic ring. You could also use platinum, which looks clean and is surprisingly strong. Or, if you like the look of platinum more than your checkbook likes the price, you could try palladium, which is similar to platinum but tends to be cheaper.
Then, there’s the gemstone, the star of the show.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but there are a lot of other gemstones that could make your custom ring truly one of a kind.
Sapphires, for example, are a little off the beaten path–and, really, it’s always a good idea to take style cues from Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, especially her engagement ring.
You could also go for the rich, pink-red color of garnets, or ever-iconic pearl.
5. Find the Right Jeweler for You
Once you have all the details in mind, it’s time to find the right jeweler for the job.
The best place to start is by getting recommendations from your friends and family members. They’ll be happy to share names of jewelers who have made them happy.
You can also shop around with online jewelers and book a consultation, maybe with Jacob Mercari at https://www.jacobmercari.com/.
From there, you can whittle your list down to people who have done the custom ring process before. Part of this is the trust factor–you want someone who knows what they’re doing.
But more than that, you want a jeweler who creates rings that align with the style you’re looking for. For example, many people who start working with a jeweler like to use something from their collection as a base that they can put their own spin on.
6. Collaborate on a Sketch and Wax Model
Once you’ve chosen a jeweler, you can start the fun stuff.
Start talking with the jeweler about what you have in mind, and once you’ve ironed out the technical details and figured out the specifics you can’t live without, you can take a look at a rendering or sketch to make sure your ring lives up to what you’ve been imagining.
Once the sketch is approved by the bride-to-be, the jeweler can move on to a wax model. This will give you a sense of what the ring will look like in real life, how it will fit, and how it will feel when worn.
Remember, this is a ring that will basically never be taken off, so it has to be beautiful while also being comfortable.
7. Don’t Forget the Wedding Bands
And while you’re working with the jeweler, don’t forget to talk about the wedding bands.
After all, once the wedding happens, you’ll be wearing the wedding band 24/7 along with the engagement ring. It helps to be prepared.
It can save you a lot of time and money to work on the wedding band while working with the jeweler on the engagement ring.
Plus, this will ensure that the engagement ring and the wedding band will look good together. After all, one of the big rules of styling jewelry is that the jewelry should work together, especially if you’re wearing it as often as you’ll wear these rings.
8. Written Agreement and Quality Check
Don’t get too excited once you’ve ironed out the details of the engagement ring and wedding band–you’re not out of the woods yet.
From here, you’ll want to get a written agreement with the jeweler. This will specify the grade of metal, the details of the gemstone (including type and purity), and the specific details of the setting.
After all, a solitaire setting is very different from a three-stone setting or a channel. You want to make sure you’re getting what you want before you pay and the jeweler puts in the order to get the ring made.
This is also the point at which you want to ask the jeweler for a quality grading report if they’re providing gemstones for the ring. This will ensure you’re getting the gemstone you think you’re getting.
You can also have it independently appraised before the stone is put in the ring.
9. Get a Return Policy
Before you pay for the ring and get the order sent in to make the ring, make sure to ask your jeweler for a return policy.
While it isn’t fun to think of a situation where you might be returning the ring, the truth is that you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a ring that, when all is said and done, you’re not actually that in love with.
You’re going to be wearing this ring for a long time. Get a return policy just in case–if all goes well, you won’t need to use it.
10. Make Any Adjustments
Finally, the jeweler can move on to casting the ring and you’ll be in the final stages.
Once the ring is cast and cleaned, the stones will be set, and the jeweler will make any additional customizations you requested. This is the time for any last-minute adjustments, so don’t be shy if you see something that you want to be changed.
Teaching Women to Be Stylish
If you design your own engagement ring, chances are, you’re highly attentive to the details of your wedding. We want to help you make sure it goes off without a hitch.
Check out our blog for all kinds of tips to keep your wedding stylish, from our ultimate guide to choosing wedding makeup to seven great locations for your wedding photo shoot.