My partner Lev is new to jewelry wearing, so the rings I got for him at the excuse of commemorating our relationship required very little customization. (You can read about them here and here). In contrast, I’ve been fairly interested in the craft of jewelry since 2010, and thus consider myself an intermediate buyer. My own “relationship” ring is a combined effort of two gemstone suppliers and a jewelry craftsman, as well as myself – hours of very enjoyable research (at that point, with no actual ring in mind) spread over a couple of years.
My review of the process will be split up into several posts, for your ease of consumption.
- Part 1: Back Story
- Part 2 – Center Stone: Tsavorite from Bruce Bridges of Tsavorite.com
- Part 3 – Side Stones: Sapphires and Rhodolites from Yvonne Raley of Cecile Raley Designs
- Part 4 – Personal Jewelry Insurance: Perfect Circle Insurance from Jewelers Mutual
- Part 5 – The Ring: Custom Setting from Dan and Caren of DanielM Jewelry
- Part 6 – Final Result Photos
Part 1: Some Back-Story
The ring design and creation process spanned almost a year’s time, leisurely developing from a simple vision of the stone I wanted to the side stones to the setting itself. I suppose it started with the engagement ring of my first marriage. I was 19, a freshmen in the business program, and under the delusion that cohabiting with a guy without nuptials was stupid idea. And in love. Did I mention in love? I remember thinking… here all the problems we have, and all the ways our dating isn’t enough – and I still want him, which means this is definitely love. And when we get married, it’ll solve everything, right? What can I possibly want out of life beyond being forever with my love. (Haha!) I was impatient, too – I tried not to be pushy, but I must have been – he loved me now, why wait, what if something changed?
So one day, we went to one of the three local malls (I can’t even remember which one), browsed jewelry counters, smiled uncomfortably at the eager salesmen. Even at that time, I was confused about diamonds – why the hype? They were white, identical, boring – shiny, true, but I didn’t care for blinding bling. (Only recently, after a friend of mine became an expert on Old Cut diamonds, do I appreciate how beautiful a diamond of a good cut can be). We stopped at a boutique where he got himself a gold band and me a delicate flower ring of small sapphires for $189 – I loved sapphires. They’re so blue! Like cornflowers! We sat cross-legged that evening on my bed in my parents’ house and put the rings on each other’s respective hands, and I thought that’s all it took to be married.
The daisy-like crown of the flower ring caught on the loop of carpet fibers, the jerk bruising my finger and twisting the gold into an 8. Two sapphires fell out. I barely managed to remove the ring. My husband was able to get the ring fixed, the sapphires reset, all for a mere 10 bucks. I didn’t like wearing the ring afterward – it was ruined. It felt structurally unsound, hinted at poor decision making, and was starting to represent a disappointment of my naive ideals (hilariously misinformed ideals, but still, they were full of hopeful glow and mine own).
In 2011, within the last half-year of my first marriage, I discovered Cecile Raley Designs on Etsy: purchased a couple of colored gemstone earrings; began appreciating the nuances of the gemstone industry, the differences in quality (and thus price) based on material type and treatments; understood that for an educated (aka picky) buyer, quality gemstones are not a cheap hobby. I also came across the Colored Stones section of the PriceScope forums, where the number of people searching for blue sapphires overwhelms all the other topics. Here it became apparent that a significant sapphire purchase would require a budget of $2000-$7000, an amount that I’ll probably not be comfortable spending on a gemstone until I earn $70K annually. Fortunately, I also discovered that a number of other gemstones that cause uncontrollable drooling – one type of which I especially imprinted on: deep green garnets, called Tsavorite in the industry.
So when Lev and I began contemplating sharing our lives and we decided to indulge ourselves and get rings, he encouraged me to explore a ring I would really enjoy. I was happy to take the reins of the project, involving Lev for brainstorming and opinions throughout the process, but making all the final decisions. Lev was ready to spend $1K on the ring, so this was my starting budget – we had discussed the potential of the ring developing into a design that would require higher investment, and Lev was ok with me financing whatever the amount remained after his contribution.