You’re getting married! And you’re...stressed? Don’t fret: we’ve seen this before, and we know what to do. Start your journey to “I do” off on the right foot with our no-stress guide to custom ring design.
With decades in this business, we’ve learned to recognize Ring Shopping Fatigue (RSF) as soon as it walks through our door. Whether a single shopper or a couple shopping together, there’s no hiding the telltale signs. What are the symptoms of RSF? Primary indicators include a downtrodden expression, slumped shoulders, and a world-weary sigh as RSF’s latest victim slouches toward us.
At Carats & Stones, we believe that education is the key to RSF prevention. Whether you’re on your first shop or your fiftieth, we make it our priority to listen to you and help you make the best decision to fit your budget and your needs. And don’t be surprised if we brew for you a pot of tea to get some color back in your cheeks….
Now, let’s sit down and please allow us a moment to tell you everything you need to know to know about wedding ring design.
1. Choose Your Jeweler Wisely
Besides the person you plan to marry, your most important partner in designing an engagement and wedding ring is your designer. While you may not be committing to spending the rest of your life with your jeweler (well, not entirely. We’ll get into that soon), you ARE committing to wearing the rings that they create for life.
Before you commit to a jeweler, there are some things you should consider. Consider the following three aspects to help you find “the one” jeweler for you and your other “the one.”
In our digital age, there’s no shortage of options for finding honest reviews of a jeweler’s past work. After asking friends and family if they have any recommendations, check out the reviews left by other clients online. While any business is likely to have a few customers whose satisfaction seems to be impossible, a trend of dissatisfied customers is a red flag.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, call and make appointments to meet with your top choices. Allow this phone call to serve as the first indicator of what your experience with this jeweler might be like: is the person who answers the phone pleasant? If you speak directly with the jewelry designer, is their demeanor markedly improved when you reveal that you’re shopping for custom rings?
At each appointment, ask to see a portfolio of their previous custom work. While they’ll certainly have designed rings to suit the preferences of their previous customers, this should give you a sense of the quality of their work as well as their overall experience in ring design.
What is the jeweler doing when you talk? Are they looking at you? Listening? Nodding? Or are they looking around the room at other customers, answering the phone, and interrupting you?
Designing your wedding rings is a process, and it’s not a process you want to embark on with someone who doesn’t bother to listen to you or take your ideas seriously. More than anything, you don’t want to spend the next six weeks trying to design the perfect ring while your jeweler is trying everything in the book to jack up the price. And that brings us to:
Can you trust this person? DO you trust this person? Even the best judges of character get it wrong on occasion, so pay attention to a few things in your initial consultation:
Do you feel pressured to buy?
Does the jeweler take time to get to know you?
Do they ask you questions?
Do they educate you without trying to sell you anything?
Are their return and warranty policies reasonable and in line with industry standards?
Your answers to these questions can help you determine how comfortable you are trusting this person with such a monumental moment in your life.
2. Think Beyond the Ring
When you start to look at styles and consider the elements you want to incorporate in your custom ring design, it can be a bit overwhelming. The choices you’ll need to make about your metal, stone, and setting alone (we’ll get to those in just a bit) require you to think about far more than just today.
It can be easy to get caught up in trends and lose sight of what you and your partner will not only cherish for the sentiment but also for style. It’s okay to shop trends, but it’s important to consider how you’ll feel about wearing it in 10, 20, or 50 years.
Your engagement ring and wedding bands are more than just jewelry. Beyond being a symbol of your commitment, they’re also an investment and, quite possibly, will live beyond you both as treasured family heirlooms. Consider these three crucial factors as you choose the rings that you and, perhaps, your grandchildren will wear:
a) Start Early & Stick to a Budget
After you’ve chosen your designer, you’ll still need to allow enough time to design and create your custom rings. In your initial consultation, ask them to sketch out their process and timeline. While there are standards across the industry, it’s best to know exactly what to expect from the person you’ll be working with.
Generally, you should allow at least six weeks from the initial consultation. From here, your designer will take the ideas you discussed and sketch your design. From here, some designers take it further and create a 3D rendered image or a mold of your design. If you provide feedback or additional requests, you’ll need time for them to revise the design until you’re happy with it. If you don’t yet have your stone, they should help you find and purchase it.
The old advice to spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring is dated, and the notion that a groom is responsible for paying for both wedding bands has, likewise, sailed. But you do still need to set a reasonable budget and stick to it. We’ve talked in depth about setting a budget in the past, so do take a look if you aren’t sure where to start.
b) Look to the Future
As you design your rings, look at them as the foundation pieces for future investments such as anniversary gifts, push presents, and birthday surprises. By planning beyond this initial piece of jewelry, you can begin to plan for the unique gifts to complement your rings in the future.
This approach also allows you to add elements as your lifestyles change. If you’re just starting off in your careers or live very active outdoor lifestyles, perhaps now is not the time for a large center stone that will see more time in your safe than it will on a finger. If you’re both still in your med school rotations, or example, you might both decide to invest in more expensive pieces later and opt for smaller, ER-friendly designs at least until after your residencies.
c) Look to the Past
Is there an heirloom piece already in one of your families that you’d like to incorporate? Don’t overlook the elements of your past that might add unique and personal meaning to your ring design.
Consider antique and vintage pieces, as well. Your jeweler should be able to help you visualize different stones that might turn an interesting estate ring into your dream engagement ring.
3. Think Outside (and Inside) the Box
As more and more people view engagement as a decision to arrive at together rather than a surprise question to be “popped,” it’s increasingly common for couples, whether they are the same or different genders, to shop for both engagement rings and wedding bands together. Viewing the decision as a partnership, the ring design is also viewed as a partnership.
The surprise proposal, however, is still popular with plenty of guys, gals, and nonbinary pals. If you or your partner have always dreamed of a surprise proposal, go for it! If you’ll be wearing the ring, don’t be afraid to share your style preferences with your partner. Even when the proposal is a surprise, discussing the future of your relationship is something that should never be off the table. If you’ve talked about marriage and you’re both on the same page, you’ll be doing your partner a favor by letting them know what type of ring you’d like to wear.
For folks on the proposing side, if it’s important that your partner not catch wind of what you’re up to, you can still figure out what styles will fit their taste and lifestyle. There are no shortage of celebrity engagement rings to ogle; in addition to noting the styles your soon-to-be-betrothed already wears, mention Meghan Markle’s three stone stunner or the platinum band Michael Buble wore upon his engagement and your bound to hear some useful insights into the ring they hope to wear.
Thoughtfully mixing metals creates some gorgeous ring and bracelet stacks, but most people still have a preference, and it’s this preference that should guide your decision here. The most common choices for engagement and wedding ring metals are platinum and the three golds: white, yellow, and rose. For folks who prefer silver tones, platinum or white gold are your choices. While similar in color, platinum offers durability that far exceeds gold’s (and a price that follows suit.)
Observe some caution with rose gold: it’s having a moment, but it is somewhat similar to cilantro in that it has no middle ground: people either love it or hate it. Unless your partner is a lifelong collector and wearer of primarily rose gold jewelry, white and yellow metals are far safer bets.
While we’re all familiar with the diamond engagement ring that caught on after DeBeers launched their Diamonds are Forever campaign, your search for a stone need not start and end with diamonds alone. In fact,