One of my favorite parts of being a jeweler is that I have the honor of creating engagement and wedding rings for special, thoughtful people who appreciate handcrafted ethical jewelry. I thought I'd share with you the recent experience of a bride to be and the creation of her ring. I recently completed her engagement ring (below) called "Crescent Lake", which features a natural Montana sapphire crystal and eco-friendly recycled 14K yellow gold. If you'd like to read a list instead of this entire post, skip to the end for a list of the 10 steps in the process of ordering a custom engagement ring!
The process began with my client, Courtney, telling me about what type of ring she was looking for. Some people have a very specific vision for their or their partner's ring, and some clients are not yet sure what they're looking for. Courtney knew she wanted a raw organic-looking stone set in 14K yellow gold, and she knew what her budget was.
We talked once over the phone, and continued the conversation over email during the duration of the project. She sent me a few photos of rings she had liked that featured raw gemstone crystals (both rough diamonds and rough sapphires). Since I only work with US-mined stones, rough diamonds were not an option I could offer her in good conscience, so we focused only on sapphires. (I can source repurposed diamond gemstones, but not rough diamonds.)
Before we began the design process, Courtney paid a $40 non-refundable deposit. Since the design and stone sourcing requires several hours of work, I ask for a deposit in good faith that the client will proceed with the order for the ring once I have already devoted much of my time to their project. The $40 was then be applied to the total cost when she decided to move forward with the ring.
She had been sized at two jewelry stores, but I also sent her a sizer in the mail just to confirm. Unfortunately there is no standard for jewelry sizers, so one store's 5 could be another store's 5.75. This is why I ask my clients to be sized at at least two different jewelry stores and try my mailable sizer as well. The size of the ring will effect the price quote I give you (because of the amount of precious metal that will be required), so it's important that you be sized early and often in the custom ring making process.
Back to the design, Courtney liked both bezel and prong settings. The ring pictured at the beginning of this post features six prongs, for a secure and unique look. Bezel settings, like the ones in the rings I made below, surround the stone with metal and can be an option for raw crystals (below, left) or faceted gems (below, right).
Since Courtney decided that she liked a look of natural sapphire crystals, I got in touch with my contact from Montana to see what he had recently mined. I was able to send Courtney photos of several sapphire options, in a range of sizes and colors. Here's an example of some of the choices:
She narrowed it down to two stones, so I sent her a few sketches based on what kind of rings she liked. Bezel settings can require a significant amount more precious metal than prong settings, especially for unique crystals. This can often be a consideration when it comes to staying within a budget.
Courtney opted for sketch #1. The prongs accentuate the natural hexagonal shape of the sapphire crystal, and also kept the ring within her budget. She preferred a thicker band than I sketched, so we decided on a 3mm wide hammered band. The width of the band can also greatly influence the price of the ring, because of the expense of the added precious metal (in her case, recycled 14K yellow gold). By choosing a wider band but opting for prongs, she was able to have a design she really loves AND she stayed within her budget. She paid the 50% non-refundable deposit based on the quote for the design she chose, and I began the ordering process for the materials.
Once I crafted her ring, I let Courtney know that it was finished, and sent an invoice for the remaining 50% plus the actual shipping cost. One thing to keep in mind is that shipping can add anywhere from $8 to $40 or more, depending on the value of the ring. I only charge you what the post office charges me to ship the ring to you, safe and sound with insurance and signature confirmation.
Shortly after Courtney received the ring, she wrote me these incredible words via email: "The ring came and it is STUNNING!!!! Thank you so very much!...[It's] SO pretty!...Thank you for creating a ring that is SO me! I am forever grateful."
And that is what makes me so happy!