7 Tips to Help You Design the Perfect Custom Engagement Ring
Engagement rings have a long and fascinating history dating back to antiquity. These days, young couples are moving away from tradition and embracing a wider variety of stones, colors, cuts, and more.
If you and your future fiancé are looking for something on the unique side, you may need to go custom. While you can find a nice array of pre-fab rings to choose from, a custom engagement ring will check every box and really stand out from the crowd.
The question is, how can you get started? After all, you may not have a ton of experience coming up with ideas for custom-made jewelry.
At Daniel & Co, we love sharing our expertise with our customers. Today, we’re going to tell you all of the secrets to designing a show-stopping custom engagement ring. Read on for seven must-have tips.
1. Start With a Realistic Budget and Timeline
Whether you’re designing a custom ring or purchasing a pre-fab ring, the first thing you should always consider is your budget. There was a time when the saying went, “The engagement ring should cost the equivalent of three months’ salary.” These days, however, most couples are going a more reasonable and financially responsible route.
Is There a “Right” Amount to Spend on an Engagement Ring?
In 2020, people were spending an average of approximately $3,700 on engagement rings. The goal should be to spend enough in your price range to get the ring you want without sacrificing your entire savings account. That said, it’s not uncommon to start padding your savings in advance so that you can be sure to get the quality and style you’re looking for.
Will a Custom Engagement Ring Cost More?
Some people start imagining giant dollar signs when they think about custom jewelry. The truth is that just like when you’re in the market for pre-fab rings, you’re going to find different customizable options at a wide variety of price points. The final cost will come down to everything from the quality of the stone to the type of metal to the labor required to turn your vision into a reality.
How Early Should You Get Started on Custom-Made Engagement Rings?
When you’re going custom, you can’t walk into the jeweler and walk back out with a ring in hand. It can take over a month to create a custom ring and if you’re completing your order online, a few additional weeks to ship it to you. If you know when you want to pop the question, get started on your customization process several months in advance to be safe.
2. Start Getting Inspired
Many clients simply bring in their inspiration and let their jeweler handle the rest, rather than learning about all of the different ins and outs of engagement rings. Even if you do want to choose everything down to the carat, you’ll need to start with some basic likes and dislikes. The best way to get started is to pull from the inspiration around you.
Talk to Your Future Betrothed
Gone are the days when men surprise their fiancés with rings they knew nothing about. These days, couples tend to talk about engagement in advance and many women have a say in their engagement ring.
When you’re going custom, it makes sense to include your partner, at least in the early stages. Ask her to send you photos of rings she likes and give you a list of qualities (like particular gemstones or cuts) that she doesn’t. This will help you to ensure that you hit the mark and that she loves the ring she’ll wear forever.
Look at Your Jeweler’s Portfolio
Another great place to get inspiration is from your jeweler’s portfolio of work. Not only will this give you an opportunity to see contemporary, custom-designed pieces but it will also familiarize you with the kind of designs your jeweler tends to produce.
If you discover a few rings you love in your jeweler’s portfolio, be sure to save them. Your jeweler can pull up the files on those rings and talk over the qualities that you like most and whether or not you want to include them in your own custom design.
3. Learn the Basics of Engagement Ring Styles
It’s helpful to learn some of the lingo when talking to a jeweler about custom engagement rings. Some of the most common engagement ring styles include:
- solitaire: an engagement ring with a single stone set in the middle of the band
- diamond band: an engagement ring with diamonds embedded all the way around the band
- halo: an engagement ring with a large focal stone surrounded by a “halo” of smaller stones
- three stone: an engagement ring with three stones, sometimes equal in size or with a larger center stone
- split shank: an engagement ring with a band that splits open to reveal empty or negative space
- vintage-inspired: a contemporary engagement ring that is inspired by vintage styles, commonly Art Deco
- prong set: a common feature of engagement rings; refers to gems that are held in place by metal prongs
- bezel set: a less common (but still popular) feature of engagement rings; refers to gems that are held in place by a ring of metal
These are not the only ring styles to consider, but they are a good starting place.
4. Consider Your Focal Gemstone
When you’re coming up with a custom engagement ring design, you get to control everything from the type of gemstones used to the shape and size of the gemstones. Whether you’re going for a solitaire look or you want to include multiple gemstones, it’s often easiest to start with your focal gemstone and plan around it. Let’s take a look at a few things to consider when making choices about your focal gemstone.
Type and Color
Diamonds are still one of the most popular gemstones for engagement rings, but that doesn’t mean they’re your only option. Sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and aquamarine are only some of the non-traditional gemstones you can incorporate into a modern engagement ring. You can also think about your desired color, as gemstones (both mined and lab-made) tend to come in a gradient of shades.
Besides type and color, the shape of your focal gemstone is one of the first things most people will notice when they catch sight of your fiancé’s ring. Because you’ve made the choice to go custom, you can get really creative with the shape, opting for something like a floral design or even something organic and asymmetrical. If you’re hoping for a classic look, the Gemological Institute’s list of classic diamond shapes will come in handy.
Finally, you’ll want to consider size. Size will impact everything from the cost of your ring to the overall effect and aesthetic. While it’s common to go with a large and assertive gemstone for solitaire and halo rings, you can also create something more subdued by pairing a moderate or small focal gemstone with surrounding stones of an equal or smaller size.
5. Learn the Four C’s
We’re not quite done talking about gemstones. When you’re talking to a jeweler about your custom engagement ring, they’re going to ask you about the four C’s. The four C’s are used for gemstone grading, which is a jeweler’s way of describing the stone’s value.
If you want an in-depth lesson on the four C’s, take a look at the Gem Society’s guide to gemstone grading. Otherwise, let’s jump in with a quick primer.
How a gemstone is cut will determine how much light will refract back out of the crown. A perfectly cut diamond will reflect nearly all of the light that hits it, creating a dazzling effect.
If a gemstone doesn’t have a perfect cut, it will absorb some of that light. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t still sparkle and shine.
Color refers to the quality and pureness of color that a gemstone has. In the world of diamonds, a clear, colorless diamond is the rarest, highest in quality, and most expensive. A lower-cost diamond ranges from “near-colorless” to yellow.
Color is evaluated differently depending on the gemstone. An experienced jeweler can talk to you about the color of a unique gemstone.
Mined gemstones are likely to have what are called inclusions, which are tiny markings caused by the mining and cutting process. When we’re talking about clarity, we’re talking about how few inclusions there are.
A flawless gemstone is quite hard to find and therefore costs more. The good news is that a few inclusions are nearly impossible to detect with the naked eye.
Carat is the technical name for a feature we’ve already discussed: size. Most people are hoping to purchase the largest gemstones they can afford, but carats aren’t the only thing that will impact the value of your stone. If you’re working with a tight budget, talk to your future betrothed about which of the four C’s matter most to them.
6. Pick a Metal
We’ve spent a lot of this guide talking about gemstones, and now it’s time to talk about the precious metal you choose for the engagement band. Many people have a strong preference when it comes to metals, and it’s worth consulting your future betrothed about the metals they love and the metals they don’t. Now, let’s talk about popular metals to use for engagement bands.
Sterling silver is a popular choice for engagement bands and is one of the more affordable options that doesn’t sacrifice luxury. Sterling silver is too soft to be used on its own, so it’s typically mixed with copper or other durable metals. Sterling silver may require some upkeep, as it can scratch or tarnish over time.
Gold is arguably the most popular choice for engagement bands and comes in a variety of colors including yellow, white, and rose. 24k gold is the purest form of gold and the most expensive, but it is also the softest and still requires an alloy of copper or other durable metals. 10k gold is the most durable option, but it also contains the smallest amount of gold, making it a more affordable option.
7. Work With a Jeweler You Trust
Our final tip is arguably the most important: work with a jeweler you trust. The custom engagement ring process takes time and effort, and there’s no shortage of emotion involved. Let’s take a quick look at how to select the best jeweler for you.
Do They Do Custom Work?
Not all jewelers are willing to create custom jewelry, so this is the first place to start. Daniel & Co has a long history of creating custom jewelry. Our 40 years of experience position us as one of the most experienced custom jewelers with a robust and diverse portfolio of work.
Do You Like Their Work?
Custom work creates an entirely subjective response. If you don’t like what a jeweler has done in the past, there’s no reason to believe that you’ll love the ring that they create for you. Make sure that you partner with a jeweler who has produced engagement rings that you think are beautiful and that bear at least some similarities to the ring you have in mind.
Can They Meet Your Needs?
Do you want to head to the showroom and talk in person or do you want to design your custom engagement ring from the comfort of your own home? Daniel & Co is proud to offer multiple brick-and-mortar locations in Houston and surrounding areas. We also work with clients remotely and can create your dream ring no matter where you live.
Let Us Help You Design Your Custom Engagement Ring
These days, engagement rings run the gamut from traditional to wildly contemporary. By creating a custom engagement ring, you can ensure that you get the exact ring your beloved desires.
If you would like to work with Daniel & Co to create a custom-made engagement ring, contact us today. We look forward to bringing your vision to life.