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Thinking back, my main reason for encouraging Lev to look into uncommon ring styles for men was really wanting him to love whatever he’d end up picking. To wear it because he loves how it makes him feel, how it looks on his fingers – not because he must wear a symbol of our commitment, or to mark himself as taken.
In fact, to a large extent I’m anti-symbol. I do enjoy developing associations and finding significance in objects received as gifts, or owned for a long time. However, as soon as I hear references to some culturally imposed symbolism, disguised under the label of “tradition”, I tend to feel annoyed and resentful. Because it’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous to assume that a single object/concept can have one and only one correct associated symbol, and that this symbol would fit the variety of individuals in a population – an extremely diverse population, too! (At least I like to think that of our area of the East Coast of USA).
For example, weddings. And commonly assigned meanings for engagement and wedding rings: if he didn’t propose with an event and a fancy ring, he’s not taking your relationship seriously, he’s not really committing; if you’re not wearing your wedding band, well, clearly there’s some trouble in your relationship.
Of course, it’s a little silly to complain about the realities of our very human behavior. After all, when you get down into specific cases, those who view the meaning of wedding customs as a priority approach them with thought (perhaps even with too much thought, sometimes?) At least, many people I know will take these commonly accepted symbols and adapt them to their preference, make them their own (my Lev is like that, I think. He wanted an external token to identify him as a family man, to remind him of us). Others don’t care enough for the symbolism to analyze it, and happily make their choices within the established limits. Still others discard them entirely, come up with their own molds and meanings.
I have been divorced, however. I don’t believe in any symbols relating to marriage. To me it seems like all of them have taken root in our culture for two purposes: to help us connect to each other by standardizing our perceptions of each other (across family units, I mean); and to take the easy way across the communication gap that tends to exist in young couples (look, here’s a ring! I don’t have to think about and articulate what it means, since everybody already knows!)
But I like jewelry. I like what wearing it does to my vision of myself, of how I feel I can present myself to my environment. In turn, Lev cares about how well his clothes fit his body type, wears hats, and welcomes fun socks. I could tell he’d enjoy jewelry – I wanted to give him openings to experience as much beauty as he wanted. Deciding to share our life, preparing to get married – that felt like a perfect excuse to put in time and money into picking jewelry.
I dunked Lev into the world of Etsy with an approximate budget of $500-$1000, with a comfortable $800 medium I was willing to spend on a men’s ring. (The most expensive piece of jewelry I ever bought myself was around $250). As I’ve mentioned in a previous review, Lev liked the work of two craftsmen:
- Jewelry by Johan
- Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/jewelrybyjohan
- Another online shop: http://www.jewelrybyjohan.com/
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jewelry-by-Johan/214477325289717
WedgeWoodRings were far more affordable than JewelryByJohan’s, but I didn’t want to make Lev choose, and could actually pay for pieces from both shops if I spaced the purchases out. So under the guise of getting an engagement ring, we worked with Steven of WedgeWoodRings to end up with this. Then about three months later, with full funds ready for the “wedding ring”, I engaged Johan for a meteorite ring.
“Charcoal Grey Wavy Titanium Ring”, Meteorite Signature Series – Jewelry by Johan
I was browsing Etsy for rings for men, and came across this listing and fell in love with the look of meteorites. Just stare at it – geometrical, shimmery, the grainy designs a mix between ice and a mountain – strong, beautiful – masculine. I forwarded the seller’s url to Lev.
Lev browsed the shop, ooh-ed and aah-ed together with me, sighed with the patented sigh of a poor student at the average prices for these masterpieces, and suddenly came across a style of ring he really liked, which was also quite affordable (my guess at the pricing: simple work of materials – titanium; also, a totally new style of ring in the shop – which meant, a lack of an explored supply-demand curve = lower pricing) :
My first point of contact with JewelryByJohan via Etsy’s messaging system was to ask whether they do engraving in a non-english alphabet – cyrillic, specifically (Lev’s and my first language is Russian). Johan replied that they didn’t at this time.
My second point of contact occurred after I all but memorized Johan’s shop’s policies. The most important aspects for me were the following:
- Turn-around time: was 4-5 weeks at that time; right now, 14 weeks.
- Fee is $35 per ring
- Available for purchase via: http://www.etsy.com/listing/61764753/engraving-service-on-rings-or-bangles
- Engraved rings cannot be returned for in-store-credit or exchanged for another ring
- Ring Sizing:
- Comfort fit bands
- Titanium rings cannot be resized
- Wider rings will fit snugger, so use the exact width that you’ll be getting to size fingers
- Ring sizers differ by manufacturer, so it’s better to get sized by two different jewelers to make sure you’re getting a universal size
- If the wrong size is ordered and then you need a new ring, you are responsible for 60% of the cost of the new ring.
- When you make an order for the ring, you can ask for a free set of plastic sizers – however! These sizers are only 3.5 mm wide and might not be the most accurate way to get sized. They are also not made with a comfort fit.
- Alternatively, you can order a custom plastic ring band in a desired width to confirm that you were sized correctly: http://www.etsy.com/listing/81245623/ring-sizer-custom-made-to-order
- Meteorite Care:
- The meteorite used is iron, and will rust overtime. It can be easily cleaned, however (the process is documented in the policies, and we’ve used it once at this point, with success).
- The meteorite can be sent to Johan for re-etching.
- Shipping Costs:
- Shipping is done via USPS, and the customer is charged the actual shipping costs.
- USPS Priority mail within the US for $7.00
- Express Mail to Canada for $30.00
- Priority Mail everywhere else for $30.00. To ship via Express Mail “Everywhere Else” (all countries outside the US, except for Canada, would be $9.00 extra.
- Insurance is extra and can be arranged.
- Lost or stolen items in transit must be covered by insurance purchased and paid by you before rings are shipped.
- Shipping is done via USPS, and the customer is charged the actual shipping costs.
Armed with this epic knowledge of things to consider, I made a purchase of the Wavy Titanium Ring, the Engraving Service, and the custom plastic sizer. In the Note to Seller (and Etsy feature allowing the customer to attach some specifications to the order), I included:
- Desired ring width: 5mm
- Ring Size: 11
- Engraving font and the actual line
- Desired width for the plastic ring sizer: 6mm
Here I also wrote to Johan (second contact point), reiterating the info from the Note to Seller, and asking a couple of questions:
- When to expect the plastic sizer
- What is the best size for the plastic sizer: we got sized at 11 (it wasn’t a comfort fit, and was a cold day), and that was easy to put on and required some twisting off to get off the knuckle. 11.5 came on and off easily.
Johan responded within the same day, promising to send the sizer within the next week, and suggesting size 11.25. He sounded gracious and busy – the framing of his messages was polite, friendly, and very to the point 🙂
After we got the sizer and decided that 11.25 was the perfect size, I let Johan know and he confirmed that he’ll proceed with that size. The sizer itself was awesome. We had a lot of fun wearing it – Lev found it smooth, light, really comfortable, and rather cool looking – transparent but frosted. He started wearing it to get his fingers used to the feel of the ring. When the actual ring came in, I took over the sizer for some time, I rather liked wearing it myself (except now I’m super certain that for my hands, 3mm width for a band is the most).
The meteorite ring arrived at our door mere days after my last communication with Johan. I left the following review on Etsy:
It’s our first week of this ring’s ownership, and we’re really happy with it. While I believe this is uncommon (Johan’s policies quote a 4 week waiting period before production), our ring was completed and shipped out on the same day as we confirmed the size we wanted (using one of the plastic $10 sizers from the shop). At size 11.25, and default width of 5mm, the ring is exquisite. I think because of its size, more of the meteorite is protruding (the jagged edges visually feel smaller, and we like that most of the visible top surface is meteorite). Also, while we did not specifically pay for a “perfect” meteorite, I cannot see any faults in ours. In bright lit areas, the meteorite catches light, bringing out the etched patterns. We are very pleased, and happily recommend these artists to our friends 🙂
It hasn’t been a full four months since we got the ring, so I can’t say how it withstands time, but we still love it. Lev is careful to take it off any time he eats with his hands, cooks, washes dishes and showers, and we haven’t had any problems with the meteorite. As promised, it does rust – the rust starts as an orangish tint next to the jagged edges of titanium, but can be cleaned off with the following process (which I will someday document for any interested parties):
- Scrub gently using toothpaste (we designated a toothbrush especially for this); wash toothpaste off in water;
- Using 90% alcohol (common rubbing alcohol from the pharmacy), soak for about 10 minutes in a cup to drive away moisture; remove the ring and dispose of alcohol in an acceptable way; set ring down to dry on a paper towel – the remaining alcohol will evaporate, leaving the ring dry.
- Place ring in a glass; pour oil (free of water or chemical cleansers) just enough to cover ring entirely (we use oil that is sold for maintaining bamboo cutting boards), as swoosh around gently to help coat the surface. After a couple of minutes, take ring out and dab dry.
Personally, I am thrilled with this purchase. It felt good to spend money on it, and the end result is gorgeous. My only complaint is that the engraving was done close to one edge of the ring, rather than in the center of the band – this is something I didn’t even know to anticipate, so I’m not sure if this is the only option, or whether I could have specified the engraving location within the width of the band. Also, I had included a comma in the engraving line, and this comma is missing. 🙂 Makes me think that not all symbols of the keyboard can actually be engraved.
Finally, here are some photos I was able to take of the ring at Chipotle recently.