The Friday Five

Tips for Designing a Custom Engagement Ring

This is a bit of a different post for me, as it’s written for future brides, rather than a post for brides. This is the story of how we learned to efficiently design a custom engagement ring!…unfortunately, it took us two rings – and several thousand dollars – to get there..but don’t worry, this story has a very happy ending!

*Spoiler alert* here is a photo of our happy ending:

5 things to know when designing a custom engagement ring

So here’s the story:

It was August 12th of last year when my fiancé – Shaun – got down on one knee and proposed to me using an aqua-gemstone engagement ring. This was a ring we had spent time designing together through a well known jeweller, and – after much reassurance that they understood our vision – we left it largely in their hands to create our ring.

A few weeks after our engagement, an appraiser broke the bad news: several prongs were bent at odd angles (noticeable to the bare eye, and in the photo below); the gemstone itself wasn’t set straight into the claws; there was no gold stamp; and – despite expressing that I wanted to wear a straight wedding band – we were told that we would have to cut slits into the thick setting of the ring if I ever wanted to wear my band and engagement ring simultaneously (yes, cut our brand new ring). Well, you can imagine how this made me feel: frustrated, cheated, sad, angry…this ring that I loved had suddenly lost something, and our well known jeweller refused any talk of refunds or returns.

So…What did we do wrong, and how did we learn from this experience to build ourselves a better – and in fact – perfect ring for us? I thought I would share with you my list of the TOP 5 TIPS FOR DESIGNING A CUSTOM ENGAGEMENT RING (and how to get it right the first time!):

1. ASK TO SEE IT IN WAX.

Perhaps our biggest mistake with our original ring, was not asking to see a wax model of the ring before it was made. Honestly, we didn’t even know this was an option or something we should have asked for…(and didn’t we feel foolish when that jeweller admitted that they could have made one for us if we had asked…) I can’t emphasize enough: when you’re custom designing an engagement ring, ask to see a wax mold of the ring before it’s cast in gold. Once you see this 3D mold, you’ll have the option of making further changes to the ring. If they won’t print a 3D wax mold for you, I would either: 1) go through a different jeweller who will; or 2) demand to see a 3D digital sketch of the ring.

QUESTION FOR YOUR JEWELLER: ‘Can we see a wax model of the ring’?

2. THINK OF THE BRIDGE.

‘The bridge’ is the platform that raises the stone(s) slightly away from your finger, and typically allows for a wedding band to align flush against your engagement band. When designing our first ring, we overlooked how the side of the ring would look, but there are several reasons why you shouldn’t neglect this hidden part of the ring:

1) If your ring does not have the height from a bridge, you will likely have to get a custom wedding band that contours your engagement ring. This can still be a beautiful option, but if you want a straight band you’ll have to consider adding a bridge.
2) You can add details + embellishments. Honestly, the bridge on our new ring is one of my favourite design elements to our ring. Sure, not everyone will see it, but that added detail makes it feel even more unique and custom!

QUESTION FOR YOUR JEWELLER: ‘How will our design accommodate the wedding band, and which embellishments do you offer’?

3. LEARN THE TERMINOLOGY.

When we started ring shopping, I honestly thought that our jeweller would ask all the right questions and educate us on ring design as we went…well that was mostly wrong. There are literally thousands of different design combinations, and your jeweller is unlikely to show you every possible setting/cut/colour/embellishment/etc. If you’re going to custom make your dream ring, you should have full control over each of these details. When designing our second ring, I found this diagram particularly helpful, and I suggest you read-up on these terms before stepping foot in a jewelry store.

QUESTION FOR YOUR JEWELLER: ‘Can you show us examples of different accent stones…prongs…embellishments…etc.’?

4. CONSIDER THE WEDDING BAND.

Even if you’re not looking to get married right away, you should still have an idea of what you want your wedding band to look like. Do you want diamonds/gems on the shanks of both the engagement ring and wedding band? Do you want to keep your wedding band simple, and put more sparkle on the shank of the engagement ring? Be sure to give this some thought.

QUESTION FOR YOUR JEWELLER: ‘What should we look for in a complementary wedding band’?

5. DIAMONDS AREN'T A GIRL'S ONLY BEST FRIEND.

Gemstones, ‘man-made diamonds’, and moissanite stones are all beautiful alternatives to diamonds, and can often be purchased at a fraction of the cost of genuine diamonds. Don’t be afraid to consider these alternatives if you’re working with a reputable jeweller.

QUESTION FOR YOUR JEWELLER: ‘Can you show us/bring in some examples of other stones’?

Amy-Sturgeon-Photography_0719


Now it’s time to praise our new jeweller for the work, patience, talent and care they put into designing our ring. They listened to our requests, they gave us their expert advice and they created a wax model, all while making us feel comfortable, welcomed + valued. To the team at La Maison D’or in Ottawa (Kristen, Rita + Jessica), thank you, thank you, thank you. You were everything a jeweller should be, and I could not be happier with the product and experience you delivered.

Do you have a custom engagement ring? What was your best tip for shopping along the way? Any questions? Suggestions? Leave your thoughts below!


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2 Comments

  1. I had no idea that you could ask to see a custom ring in wax before you had it made. My brother is looking into getting a custom ring for his soon to be wife and I want to help him find the best. It makes sense that taking the time to do a little research can help anyone find a reputable jeweler that cares about their clients and about providing quality materials for them.

    • Hi John! Glad this post was helpful! It definitely gave us peace of mind to see it in wax beforehand; HIGHLY recommend it! Best of luck to your brother! x

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