May 28 2014 Wednesday at 08:39 PM

The Basics of Designing a Custom Engagement Ring

You’ve decided the time is right and you’re ready to pop the question (or maybe you’re about to be asked) but you’ve noticed something disturbing about the rings you’re seeing in the shops: they all look alike. If that scenario describes your situation, you’re a prime candidate for a custom engagement ring. Here’s what you need to know about embarking on the exciting journey of custom designing your very own, unique engagement ring.

Source: instagram.com/caroline_tomas

Make It Personal, Make it Your Own

The best part about a custom ring should be how it expresses your personality and nobody else’s. If you are shopping for your beloved, the first thing to consider is what makes her tick. Is she a fan of vintage or antique jewelry? Does she have a certain sensibility or cultural identity such as steampunk or Native American or Asian? All of this can be addressed in a custom ring and that is one of the best parts of the whole process—it doesn’t have to be a “one size fits all” approach anymore. Make her engagement ring uniquely her own. Let the ring’s design reflect her personality.

Find the Right Designer

Look around and notice what rings people are wearing if you like them (around you and online, too). Ask or note who designed them. Look for design elements you like (or that your mate does) and try to find the common elements. Maybe it’s the look overall, maybe there is a recurring theme in regards to elements like multi-colored gems or a type of setting that just appeals to you. Eventually this should lead you to find a designer who is passionate about custom-designed rings. Check their background: how long in business, examples of their work, etc. Find a designer or consultant who is passionate and shares your vision for where you want to go with the design of your ring.

Put It In Words, and a Sketch

Try describing your beloved in a short line or two or paragraph at the most. Sometimes this can help the designer get to know them better than anything else. (That is, if you are doing this in secret. If you and your bride-to-be are designing the ring together, she can speak for herself.) A talented designer will want to sketch an idea for your approval or may even ask you to take a stab at it. Don’t worry: they aren’t expecting great art, just a reference point to use a jumping-off place. You can start with a few adjectives that describe your mate and go from there to a few words about they make you feel. The designer can help guide you—the important thing is getting to the essence of who they are. That’s how you “get” their perfect ring.

Source: instagram.com/caroline_tomas

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t be surprised when a custom ring costs more. This is normal; made-to-order rings can cost up to three times as much as “off the rack” rings. There are no free lunches—custom quality and design costs extra. Veteran designers say a common mistake made by guys shopping for custom rings is to get the ring size wrong. Don’t get so involved in the minutiae of the design process that you make this simple rookie gaffe. It’s incredibly easy to borrow a ring from her jewelry box and have it sized by a jeweler. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to custom order an engagement ring. Expect the process to take a minimum of six weeks and it’s prudent to anticipate a longer wait. Get an agreement in writing before money changes hands that spells out exactly what the designer will provide, the costs, and the guarantee you can expect. That way there are no costly surprises down the road.