Finding someone you want to spend the rest of your life with is wonderful. And it can also be terrifying. Not because of the life-long commitment to another human, but because a pending engagement comes with a bounty of V. important fashion decisions, starting with a big one: The Ring.
Personally, I had barely given a thought to the type of rock I'd want. I knew when I met my boyfriend that he was my forever... but I hadn't the faintest clue what style of ring I liked. Luckily, I had three years to find my engagement ring style, before settling on designing my own.
After going through the design process, I can tell you it's not without its risks. But, do it right, and you will be forever delighted with what you created. Want to know more? Read on for my first-hand experience and tips on how to design your own engagement ring.
We all love a celebrity sparkler (they have access to big budgets and have a penchant for setting trends, after all), so a natural first step is to look at famous rings to see the styles and shapes that resonate. Don't panic if you've got champagne taste on a beer budget—I was particularly fond of Kim Kardashian and Blake Lively’s bands, so my expectations at this point were not only high, they were unreasonable.
Upon realising my boyfriend was for keeps, I started following jewellers on Instagram and took screenshots of rings I liked and saved them into a "bling" folder on my phone. Every so often, I'd go back and delete the ones I no longer liked, narrowing my selection. This constant curation revealed a penchant for oval and cushion cuts, which gave me a starting point for honing my style (not so dissimilar to Kim and Blake's, might I add). Some of my favourites feeds include @jeandousset (he designed Eva Longoria and Amy Adams' rings), @stephaniegottlieb, @nicholashaywoodjewellery and @laurenbjewelry.
I also had a secret Pinterest board where it became apparent I had a thing for vintage, Art Deco and intricate rings that were not all over Insta.
At this stage of your search, don't discount anything—if you like something, even if it's not your usual style, screenshot and save. You can always delete later.
It's one thing to love a pretty picture, it's quite another to see it on your finger. Before you make any firm decisions, visit a range of jewellers to try things on and learn all about the four Cs. We met with experts from Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Cerrone, boutique family jewellers and even two of my Instagram favourites when holidaying in the US. Where possible, I took detailed photos of the design elements I liked and saved into my "bling" folder.
By this stage, I knew I wanted a unique ring—not necessarily custom, but not something on the finger of every second person. Eventually, I found what I called my "dream ring"—it wasn't perfect, but with a few tweaks it had potential. Of course, it was worth a few hundred thousand dollars and well beyond my fiancé's budget. Enter: diamond brokers and wholesale jewellers.
A GIA graded diamond is one of the safest investments you can make—they are classified according to a very strict set of rules and are priced accordingly. While other grading systems exist, GIA is the most widely trusted and is used by all the big names including Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co., Cartier and most jewellers in Australia. A good investment starts with buying the diamond at the best price—and that means purchasing wholesale if possible. Some retailers offer wholesale pricing if you elect to have your ring designed and made, otherwise you can visit a diamond broker who will source your requested stone from around the world. You shouldn't find too much variation in price, as wholesale diamonds graded by GIA are pretty standard across the board. It's important to note that loose stones will always look bigger once they're set, so don't be disheartened if you're not getting Kimmy K vibes right away.
My partner and I had both received glowing recommendations for GP Israel in Sydney, so we made an appointment with the owner, Susie. After a master lesson on cut, colour, clarity and what Susie called "the boom boom wow", my fiancé began cross-checking prices with other brokers to ensure we would be getting bang for his buck. GP Israel also offered a lifetime exchange—so if we decided to upgrade or swap diamonds down the track, they'd happily take back our rock.
My partner and I had discussed getting engaged on multiple occasions, and it was mainly about the ring. While part of me wanted nothing to do with picking the ring/diamond (too much pressure), the other part knew I would be fussy and couldn't bear not loving something so expensive. Eventually, we decided to leave it in his capable hands (which really meant, pick what I want or I'll kill you).
My darling fiancé proposed with a placeholder Trinity de Cartier ring, as he had a diamond on hold but wanted my buy-in before he collected. Smart man. We visited GP Israel together and inspected the diamond...safe to say after all our lessons he chose very well!
After seeing our references, Susie recommended a wholesale jeweller who specialised in detailed, vintage-style work. At our first appointment, we gave him photos of Dream Ring, discussed what I liked, what I wanted to change and how I wanted it to sit on my finger.
After a few days, he sent a sketch and quote for our thoughts. From here, I gave feedback on the drawing, and he gave us an estimated timeframe. After our initial meeting, I went in for two additional fittings—just like a wedding dress!—to continue to give feedback and ensure it was on the right path.
These fittings were great for reiterating my vision, but not so great for settling my nerves. A half-finished setting does not look anything like the final product and can be a bit scary—especially if you haven't looked at the jeweller's previous work to see if you like their style (...like I did. Silly girl). Seriously, before you commit you should always ask to see examples of their previous work and not get too excited by the sparky rock you now own…I got lucky but please don't do as I did! This is possibly the riskiest part of the process—you can't do anything but wait and see, and hope it's what you've imagined.
Another perk was that our jeweller offered a "no like, no pay" policy—if we didn’t like it, they'd keep working on it until we did. Thankfully, at our final appointment, my fiancé and I couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces—the level of detail was incredible. Feeling pretty chuffed with our purchase, we parted with his money and left with my ring!
One important point to remember is that a handmade ring will never be perfect, but it should light your soul on fire. If you're not happy with it, speak up! Your jeweller can make tweaks as needed—you'll be wearing it for the rest of your life, so it should be nothing less than incredible.
Would you design your own engagement ring? Let us know in the comments below.