It's been nearly 7 months, but my quest to create the perfect engagement ring is at its end! I thought I'd make a post outlining the entire creation process, from initially choosing a sim to the final product, to give a little insight to others who might be curious about the custom process. Feel free to skip all the boring novel and just stare at the pretty pictures
Choosing a Sim: I stumbled on sims quite by accident. I had fallen in love with the Tiffany Legacy (but not the Tiffany price) and so I was searching for inexpensive Legacy reproductions and stumbled upon MoCo's version. From there I found the BTD boards and the rest is history! After a week of research (and a couple more of convincing my boyfriend) I decided that Amora-enhanced moissanite was the right choice for me. I've never been stuck on the idea of a diamond (I'd previously considered both sapphire and ruby), I liked the environmental/ethical advantages of moissy, and the price point meant that I could get my forever ring now instead of getting something I was only sort of happy with now and then upgrade down the road. Because I wanted this ring to be my forever ring, I decided against Asha, as I wanted to minimize the risk of damaging the stone. Initially I thought I might one day replace my moissanite with diamond, but now I'm quite convinced that if I ever do replace it, it will be with the Amora Gem (and then only if in an antique cushion cut)!
Choosing a Stone: I've never been a fan of the traditional round or even princess. I liked asschers, but they were not available in moissanite. I also liked ovals, but my boyfriend didn't like them and when I first began planning my ring it was not available in an Amora-enhanced version. I then fell in love with cushions, especially chunky antique style ones like the ACC. Unfortunately, a moissy version of the ACC didn't work out and after considering compromising with an Asha or OEC, I decided to go with a regular cushion. Hopefully there will one day be an Amora Gem AVC that I can consider trading up for. I deliberated on size FOREVER. When I thought I wanted a solitaire I leaned toward a 7-7.5mm because I wanted a decent amount of finger coverage. When I looked at what my friends have (.5-1ct), however, I realized that I would feel very uncomfortable wearing such a significantly larger stone. A more realistic and believable size was the 6mm (1.1ct) size that I finally chose, and I achieved some extra finger coverage with a halo. Now my ring is definitely on the larger side, but it's still something that a couple of college students might possibly have been able to afford.
Choosing a Design/Inspiration: This was BY FAR the most drawn-out and lengthy part of my quest for the perfect ring. As I said before, my first love was the Tiffany Legacy, but as I began looking at more designs and saw more rings both online and in person, my tastes evolved. I decided the halo on the Legacy was too bulky for my liking, and a trip to a couple of brick-and-mortar jewelry stores taught me that my boyfriend preferred chunkier settings with wider bands. My "wish list" included some sort of split shank, halo, milgrain, claw prongs, and a pretty profile. I found that I loved the style of antique and antique-inspired jewelry, but though I searched for months I found nothing that made my heart sing (except for Leon's tapered french cut setting, but there was no way for my budget to accommodate that!). I scoured PS, BTD, Ebay, and just about every online retailer and manufacturer I could find UNTIL I stumbled across this setting:
By altering the profile in the style of this ring for a slightly higher profile to accommodate a straight band:
And modeling the halo and prongs after this ring:
I was able to create the perfect ring! I also chose, after some deliberation, unplated 14k white gold for my ring. I like the warmth and antique feel of unplated gold, and I loved that I wouldn’t have to bother getting it rhodium plated. The only problem was finding someone who could create a quality custom piece on my very limited budget.
Choosing a Jeweler: I have to give some credit here to Beth at Schubach - she was the first person I contacted about custom work and was extremely gracious and helpful as I stumbled around trying to narrow down the perfect design. Although their custom work is quite reasonable for the quality pieces they create, in the end I was unable to get exactly what I wanted on my rather limited budget.
Enter David Klass. Everything people have said about him is true - he's incredibly easy to work with, accommodating, quick to respond to emails, and outrageously reasonable with his prices. When I added some design elements that increased the overall cost of the ring, he was quick to make suggestions of how to keep costs down and in budget. To put it simply, he was able to make the ring of my dreams for 60% the price of retail of the inspiration ring, and with better craftsmanship. Every other jeweler I asked quoted me at least twice what he did. I really only have one complaint about the custom design process with DK – it took longer than he’d originally said for the ring to be cast/set. Apparently, David’s popularity on the boards means that he’s been inundated with custom requests. I don’t know, but it’s my guess that he might have taken a little too much on recently, and though he works very hard and long hours to keep up with orders (most of the time he replied to my emails around midnight my time, which was 10:00pm his time!), he’s still at the mercy of how fast his casters/setters work. Perhaps I was too accommodating (I always said “there’s no rush” and didn’t have a firm date that I needed the ring to be finished by), but if you need your piece by a certain date you need to be sure to EMPHASIZE that so he can stay on top of your order and make sure it moves along. Anyhoo, I was originally told the ring would be done May 1, received a very apologetic email on May 2 telling me that the ring was currently being set by his “best setter,” who unfortunately also has a tendency to be a bit slow, and that I would have pictures by Friday, May 4. I actually got pictures the following Monday, May 7. To help make up for it, David overnighted the ring at no cost to me. I didn’t mind the extra wait, I just hated anticipating having the ring by a certain date and then having to wait even longer.
The Design Process: I began by sending David my inspiration pics and video, along with a description of which parts of each ring I wanted in my own, my ring size, the type of metal I wanted, and the stats on my center stone:
He sent a quote, made a couple of design suggestions, and once I agreed, started work on a CAD. He had the first CADs to me within a week:
After viewing the first CADS I made a few changes. Don't be afraid to make changes to the CAD! It's a whole lot easier than trying to make changes after the ring is cast - let your jeweler know what you want and don't stop until it's exactly how you want it. I told David that I wanted the halo to be more square and circled parts of the CADs around the basket that I wanted changed, sent a brief description of the changes I wanted, and sent pictures of a ring I'd found that was similar to what I was describing. Pictures and/or drawings, even if not very good, are ALWAYS better than words. Vocabulary can be different or confusing, but pictures don't lie. He had the changes to the CADs back to me within one business day:
David had successfully changed everything I'd asked him to, but there was still something about the basket that didn't seem right, so I sent him another picture and had him tweak it once more, making the basket rounder, more like a bowl. Again, he had the changes back within one business day:
This was the final CAD, and once it was completed I gave my approval for David to go ahead and cast the ring! It took about 5 weeks for the entire casting process, and the ring was not done until a week after he’d originally said it would be, but the wait was well worth it!
And, without further ado, here are the pictures of my dream engagement ring:
Ring Specs: 4.7 grams of 14k unplated white gold Size 6.5 6mm/1.1 ct Amora-enhanced Cushion (color "I") .7ct H VS2/SI1 round brilliant diamond sidestones
I'll have handshots up as soon as my boyfriend officially proposes. In fact, I won't even see the ring in person until then! He's been super sweet about allowing me to design my own ring, so I figure I can compromise and let him keep a tiny element of surprise
Edit: I will also happily solicit wedding band suggestions. I think with the design tweaks I made that a straight band will be able to sit somewhat flush.
I bow to you, labelo. Your complete start-to-finish description of the process, your clarity and organization of the info, your visual aids, your open honesty about costs and unexpected delays, your level head........... tell your boyfriend to move over because *I* want to marry you!
Thank you for all the kind words! I'm glad that you guys are enjoying the post - about half way through I was like, "What am I doing?! No one wants to read 17 kajillion pages of your rambling about a piece of jewelry!" but I figured I might as well finish what I'd started. I can only hope that it can help others who are working their way through the world of custom jewelry even a fraction of the amount that all of the wonderful posters on these boards have helped me!