Creating a custom engagement ring is a great way to express your love and commitment with your partner. It allows for complete personalization, from the choice of metal and stone to the design and setting, making it unique and meaningful to your style and love story.
If the ring and proposal is a surprise, I recommend that you consider your partner's preferences and tastes before deciding to go down the custom route. Unless there's been a suggested hint from your partner / you've got confirmation from their family and friends / or you've even gained access to their secret Pinterest board. You want to ensure that you create a ring that your partner will love and cherish for a lifetime.
So... whether it's for a surprise proposal or if both partners are involved in the design process - let's explore some things to keep in mind when making your vision a reality:
1. Have a budget in mind
Consider how much you're willing to spend and to be realistic about price expectations when commissioning a custom engagement ring. A custom ring can vary widely in price, starting from a few thousand dollars going up to tens of thousands or more - depending on the complexity of the design, the type and quality of the stone(s), and your choice of metal. Let your jewellery designer know your budget so they can help narrow down options that work within your price range. An engagement ring is an investment, and ultimately you want to keep within a price point that you're comfortable with.
2. Collect inspiration
Browse around online (Pinterest and Instagram), in magazines, and in jewellery stores to get ideas of different styles, settings, and stones to see what pops out at you! Bring all your ideas to share with your custom jewellery designer so that you can work together to create a unique design that incorporates all the elements you love.
3. Choose a reputable jewellery designer
You'll want to work with an experienced goldsmith / jewellery designer who can guide you through the process of creating your custom engagement ring. Look for a jeweller who first works in the style you want to achieve, has a good reputation, positive reviews, and a portfolio of custom designs they've created in the past. Ask family and friends if they have any designer recommendations!
4. Types of stones to consider
The stone you choose for your engagement ring will likely be the centerpiece of the design. Consider the type of stone, durability, shape, size, colour, price and quality when making your decision. Diamonds, moissanites, sapphires, rubies and spinels are all great choices!
Diamonds have been the traditional choice for engagement rings and are at the top of this list when it comes to durability. Aside from the classic clear diamond, they also naturally come in a variety of greys, blacks and salt and pepper variations.
Moissanites are lab-created stones that have become an increasingly popular choice for engagement rings because of their affordability compared to diamonds and are a more eco-friendly alternative since they are lab-grown instead of mined. They are known for their rainbow-like brilliance (having a higher refractive index than diamonds) which creates a rainbow effect. Many people find this unique colourful sparkle appealing. It comes down to your personal preference.
Sapphires are the perfect durable choice if you're into colour! They come in a wide range of colours including, pink, purple, green, teal, yellow, not just the traditional Diana-deep blue. They are also available at a variety of price points depending on the quality.
Rubies have been a long-time popular choice for engagement rings because they are a symbol of love, passion, and commitment. They rank high for durability and are known for their stunning rich red colour.
Spinels are a lesser-known gemstone that have been gaining popularity in recent years. They're a relatively hard gemstone making them a practical choice for everyday-wear. They're available in a range of colours, including pink, purple, blue, and solid black. Spinels are the most affordable stone option on this list. Meaning you can get a larger, more impressive stone for your budget.
5. Stone shape options
You're probably used to the more common shapes such as round, square, oval, pear, and marquise. These faceted-cuts are intended to bring out the brilliance and reflective qualities of the more traditional engagement ring stones. However, with the increasing popularity of alternative stones, such as salt and pepper diamonds - new geometric shape trends have come out, such as kites, shields, and hexagons, to name a few, that instead highlight salt and pepper stone's unique colour markings. Some people even love leaving the stone in their rough, raw, natural shape from the earth. Ultimately, the choice of shape will depend on your personal preference, style and the design of the ring.
6. Think about the metal
When choosing the metal for an engagement ring, consider the durability, cost, and colour of each metal when making your decision.
Gold is the most common choice! It's a durable metal ideal for daily wear to last a lifetime. It can be easily shaped and molded, making it an excellent option for customizing unique and intricate designs. Gold is available in a variety of colours, including yellow, white, and rose gold. Within each colour category are different (karat) grades (10k, 14k, 18k, 22k) ranging from hardest to softest, containing different amounts of pure gold content and each of which has its own colour and price point. This variety allows you to choose a colour that best suits your preferences and budget. I’ll dig deeper into the topic of gold in a later article - so stay tuned!
Platinum is another popular choice for engagement rings for its durability that will last a lifetime of wear. Platinum is a white-coloured metal and is considered to be hypoallergenic, making it an ideal choice for individuals with sensitive skin. In terms of price - due to its rarity and density, it's more expensive than other metals. Priced by weight - it can typically be double the cost of a gold ring of the same design.
Contemporary metals such as titanium, tungsten, and stainless steel are great affordable options! They are great alternative metal choices for simpler-style wedding bands, however they may not be the best option when it comes to engagement rings or rings you want to customize. They are typically made on a lathe and cannot be manipulated or soldered the same way as gold or platinum. As a result, there are limitations to certain details you may want, like stone settings, therefore having less flexibility for customizations.
7. All the fine details
There are a number of finer details to consider to ensure that the design complements your personal style and lifestyle. Elements to think about include the type of setting, the number of claws, the height profile of the stone setting, the band width and profile, decorative accent details, the type of finish, and whether or not to include engraving.
8. The ring size
If the receiver of the ring is involved, your jewellery designer will size their finger. If the ring is a surprise, it is expected that it will have to be re-sized for a proper fit after the ring is presented - and most jewellers offer a first sizing complimentary. So don't stress out too much about this detail! If you want to go the extra mile - your best bet is to measure a ring they already own that they wear on the same hand and finger the ring is intended for. This will be a great starting place for your designer to work with.
9. Don't forget about TIME!
Time is a very important factor to take into account when having something custom made. Turn-around time for custom work can take several weeks or even months to create. Some people know exactly what they want down to the finest detail, while others may need weeks or months to consider different stones and design options to create their perfect ring. Every scenario is different - in my experience working with clients - the design process can take as little as 1 day, 1 week, to a few weeks, or even months. Then comes production time - for custom work typically takes 4-12 weeks once all the details of the design are finalized. This will vary for each project depending on the complexity.
If you have a specific deadline in mind, be sure to communicate this to your jeweller from the beginning. Custom work requested sooner than the jeweller's outlined production time may be subject to additional rush order fees. It's important to keep in mind, when jewellery pieces are individually designed and handmade, not all rush requests are possible to fulfill. Custom jewellery requires a high level of attention to detail, so you want to allow enough time for the creation and production to ensure highest quality, by not rushing the process. Knowing how long it takes to make a custom ring will help give you an idea when to get started and plan accordingly.
I hope this guide of things to keep in mind will help you make the best decisions when creating a custom engagement ring that is truly unique and that you will cherish for a lifetime!