So, you’ve decided to pop the question and are ready to start designing your own engagement ring… now what?
When it comes to working with a jewelry designer, there are many ways to design your own engagement or wedding ring. With every jeweler under the sun offering ‘custom services’ (not all of them ACTUALLY are doing full customization but we’ll leave that for another time), it’s difficult to tell what the process is and how to design a ring that suits your taste AND fits within your budget. There are also many things that should be avoided to ensure that you’re fully satisfied with the design. Let’s be frank here, this is an investment and you should be happy with the end result. With that in mind, here’s a little guide for those that may be considering going through the custom design process for an engagement ring
Here’s a List Do’s and Don'ts of Designing Your Own Engagement Ring
I have divided this guide into 2 parts—these are mistakes to avoid in strategy and mistakes in design and execution. Some of this may be common sense, but all of it is relevant and any of these mistakes could be fatal to your future happiness—not to mention the financial investment!
Strategy Mistakes to avoid:
DON’T choose anything you don’t love.
Be excited and satisfied with your decisions and don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Trust is essential in your advisors as no one can be an expert in everything, so be aware but if you don’t trust your instincts don’t move on. At the end of the day, this is your ring and you should feel 100% happy with your design. A talented and competent designer will know how to guide you to make sure that your design is structurally sound and will last the test of time.
DON’T spend more than you should.
Make a plan and try to follow it. Adjust as needed and you’ll be happier.
DON’T spend less than you should.
You hope to only do this once. Spend as much as you can and be comfortable knowing that you did your best. You will likely earn more money in the future and want to be sure you are satisfied with your decisions forever. This is especially true for diamond engagement rings [link here to natural vs synthetic article] as natural diamonds increase in value over time. In that sense, you WANT to make sure that you take that into account and find a diamond that makes sense for the design as well as for the future.
DON’T rush. Designing and making a piece of jewelry is a process.
This is important and uncharted territory and you want to be comfortable and confident with your decisions. Take time to think over each decision you make. Make sure that you are communicating your wishes to your designer and continue to do so during the custom design process. There are a few steps along the way where you will have opportunities to adjust and fine-tune your designs. Your designer should be there for you to guide you along the way!
Design and Execution Mistakes to Avoid :
DON’T use soft materials.
Jewelry made out of durable materials will last for decades. Hard precious metals like gold and platinum are ideal metals because they are strong and durable. Durable gemstones are important because they are scratch resistant, crack resistant, and generally superior (which is what you want with a ring—we use our hands for everything and you need something that will last).
Avoid Silver, Brass, copper, leather, wood, glass, and any other soft material that can not withstand extreme wear and tear. Remember, this is an investment as much as it is a representation of your commitment so it should be made to last!
DON’T choose designs with sharp or protruding edges.
Some designs have angles and corners or portions that are unsupported making them at risk for snagging or even damaging other pieces of jewelry. In some cases protruding or sharp angular elements are possible but only with care and consideration. A competent designer will be able to guide you on these issues, you can certainly bring in any design but be open to guidance and trust that your engagement ring designer (or at least, a good one with a great reputation) has your best interest at heart. Here are some examples of how to use stylish angles while maintaining design integrity:
DON’T make a design too light to be durable.
Many contemporary designs are very delicate and not as sturdy. That is fine within reason, but a ring can not be made as delicate as one can imagine without sacrificing strength and durability. What is ideal is to maintain a balance of good engineering with beautiful aesthetics, and not create a design that will likely not survive long term wear. Of course you CAN choose a ‘lighter’ or delicate design, just make sure that the jeweler knows what they’re doing!
One of our engagement ring collections uses structurally sound ‘ultra-light’ bands to achieve this look, you can view some examples here for some inspiration here>
DON’T use glue.
Stone settings should be durable and mechanical in nature. Glue relies on a monomolecular connection that is not as durable as a classic metal setting. If you hear any mention of glue when it comes to setting your engagement ring, run for the hills! You’re better off going to a new jeweler, there are those of us that pride ourselves in craftsmanship and will work with you to innovate to achieve a desired look or guide you to a suitable (and structurally sound) alternative .
DON’T use anyone but a professional to make your jewelry.
This should go without saying, but be sure to use experienced professionals that are qualified to do the work at a high standard. There are plenty of talented designers out there who look great on Instagram, but have they passed the test of time? Do they offer eco-friendly and conflict-free diamonds? Are they certified gemologists (you want that with a diamond broker)? Do they certify your diamond and provide diamond certificates? Do they guarantee their work? Are the manufacturing elsewhere (you’d be surprised of all of the ‘custom jewelers’ that don’t actually make things in their studio)?
Last but not least, here's what you should be doing when you design your engagement ring:
DO your homework, and take your time.
Usually, by the time we meet our clients they have a pretty good idea of what’s available. It’s not so much about becoming an expert (there’s no time for that—it takes years) as it is having context so that by the time you meet your designer you are able to give them an idea of what you need. If you are not sure and DO need guidance, you can communicate that! We pride ourselves in our communication skills and truly believe that in order to execute a custom design we need to get to know you. A good jewelry designer will be able to do just that—ask questions so that they will be able to come up with (or help execute) your engagement ring design.
Enjoy the process.
Have fun and enjoy the process of finding and or making the perfect design. It can be exciting and romantic and you will always remember it. In our studio, working with clients is an enjoyable experience and we become part of that moment for them in their lives. You should like who you’re working with—no exception! Before you even choose a jewelry designer for your engagement ring, check out reviews and do your research! Once you set foot (or e-meet) you should feel comfortable and taken care of.
DO Love the outcome. Never settle. Make something you will be proud of!
Work with us to Design Your Own Engagement Ring
We specialize in making custom engagement rings using raw materials or by using your own heirloom to restyle. Whether you have a style in mind or need a bit of guidance, our designers take you through the process step by step and create one of a kind pieces that last a lifetime.
I wasn't sure where to start when we began searching to create a custom engagement ring. I decided to make an appointment with Christopher Duquet and almost immediately knew it was the right decision. I worked with Villi to create a very unique custom ring. She made me feel very comfortable through the entire process and walked me through each step to make sure it was exactly what I wanted. The final product turned out amazing; I absolutely love it. We can't wait to work with her again on our wedding bands. —Hilary A.