Proposing (or being proposed to) is one of the most important moments of your life. And to get to that moment takes a lot of consideration and planning, not only of how the proposal will happen, but also what you’ll propose with.
Some couples choose to search for the perfect engagement ring together and others want it to be a surprise. At the center of this proposal is the engagement ring, a physical representation of the promise you’re making to spend your lives together. While there is certainly no lack of engagement ring designs in every jewelry store display case, a custom ring holds a special kind of allure because it allows couples to create something that is unique and meaningful to their love story. While it’s true that designing and purchasing a custom engagement ring can seem overwhelming, when you plan in advance and work with the right jeweler, it can be a seamless and enjoyable process.
If you follow these three tips, we can guess that you’ll end up very satisfied with your custom engagement ring purchase.
1. Understanding the Custom Design Process (in Relation to Your Partner)
In order to start the process of crafting a custom engagement ring, you must first research design options and narrow down what your partner may prefer. It requires thoughtful consideration of your partner’s lifestyle, the story of your relationship, and any special elements you want to incorporate into the ring to make it unique.
While this may sound overwhelming, the right jeweler will guide you through this process by asking the right questions to help you narrow down your options. A professional jeweler who has custom design experience knows the important aspects to consider before translating your ideas into a design. They can offer expert advice based on years of knowledge and hands-on experience. Some things you'll want to consider: diamond vs. gemstone selection, setting styles, and metal choices.
Typically the jeweler will show you examples of different styles of rings (contemporary, traditional, floral, vintage) so you can determine which is more in line with your partner’s style. They’ll also have samples of different setting styles (bezel, prong, channel, etc.). After narrowing down the options, a sketch artist can start the actual design process, which can bring your design to life. Oftentimes, the sketch artist can offer creative insights to make your design even more special, so it’s important to remain flexible and open to suggestions.
To understand how the design of the ring fits into your partner’s lifestyle, you may want to take a look at items they already own before visiting the jeweler. Pay attention to their clothing style and any other jewelry they own. Look at metal colors, gemstones, and overall design of the pieces. If you can bring an example of a ring they currently wear, this will assist with determining an approximate finger size, which is an integral aspect of the ring. Of course a ring can be sized a little bit up or down, but getting as close as possible to the correct size will preserve the integrity of the ring. If your partner uses Pinterest, look over their boards and see what styles are being pinned–this can give some important insight into their style. If you feel comfortable, talk to their family and friends to get some clarity on style and ring size, as it’s a common topic of discussion when you’ve been dating someone for a while. Getting a clear understanding of your partner's style and how it fits into the design process will help get the ball rolling on your custom engagement ring design.
2. Selecting the Right Jeweler
Choosing the right jeweler is an absolutely key decision in your custom engagement ring design process, because you’re choosing the person you’re trusting to bring your vision to life. It's extremely important to properly research and perform your due diligence before making a final decision about which jeweler to work with, as there are so many options nowadays–especially with the ability to work on designs completely remotely.
You can start by asking friends and family for referrals. There are likely family members and friends of similar ages also getting engaged, who have had good (or bad) experiences with jewelers that they would be happy to share with you. Online communities such as the Knot or Wedding Wire can also play a vital role in helping you make this decision. There are endless places to find online reviews, such as Yelp or Google reviews, where both the good and the bad are on full display. It’s important to see what the jeweler specializes in and determine if it’s a good match to what you’re looking for (think of overall design style).
If you have questions before committing, reach out and ask questions. Any reputable jeweler will be happy to be transparent with you regarding the design and pricing process, as they want to earn your trust and your business. At the end of this, your satisfaction is their goal. They should listen to your needs and offer guidance to the best of their ability, and be honest with you if what you’re looking for is unrealistic or outside of what would be considered smart for daily wear for your partner based on their lifestyle.
If you need some questions to ask potential jewelers, here are some suggestions:
- What type of materials does the jeweler use?
- Do they ethically source their diamonds and gemstones, and is their gold recycled?
- Do they offer both mined and lab grown diamonds?
- How long has the jeweler been in business? What is their company history?
- How well do they communicate? Does it meet your expectations in terms of openness and swiftness in replies?
- Are they listening to what you want and need?
- What is the jeweler’s design aesthetic?
- Do they have experience setting all types of stones in different setting styles and metals?
- What type of customization options does the jeweler offer?
- Does customization come with exorbitant fees?
Never be afraid to ask questions, as it’s the only way to get comfortable enough to make a decision to work with someone. After all, this is often an expensive purchase, and you need to feel at peace with your choice of jeweler.
3. Setting a Budget for Your Custom Engagement Ring
While many aspects of designing a custom engagement ring can be fun, determining a budget can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s important to be realistic when making this determination so you don’t put any unnecessary financial stress on your new marriage. The average engagement ring cost is approximately $5,000, and it’s recommended that you spend no more than 2-3 months of your income on an engagement ring. So, if you make $2,000 per month, you should be spending $4,000 to $6,000 on an engagement ring. These are only guidelines, and only you know how much you are comfortable spending, but it’s a good starting point when determining a budget. Once you make a decision on the maximum amount you’re willing to spend, you can convey this to the jeweler.
While the design of your dreams may reach far outside of your actual budget, a good jeweler should be able to offer suggestions to modify the design to keep it within your price point. Some options to reduce price would be choosing a less expensive metal (14kt instead of 18kt or platinum) or a lab grown diamond in lieu of a mined diamond. Lab grown colored gemstones are also available and oftentimes more affordable than their natural counterparts.
Be aware that there may be issues that arise during the design process, which can cause an increase in price. If this happens, your jeweler should communicate openly with you before making any definitive changes. Some changes may be necessary to maintain the integrity of the ring, whereas some may be design-oriented and unnecessary, but that will ultimately be up to you to discuss with the jeweler.
Buying a custom engagement ring may seem like an impossible feat in terms of the process and the cost, but we can promise you that it’s worth all the effort. It’s an opportunity for you to create a truly unique and meaningful symbol of your love and commitment. By understanding the custom design process in relation to your partner, taking your time to choose the right jeweler, and setting a realistic budget for yourself, you’ll end up with the perfect unique engagement ring your partner has always dreamed of.