What You Need to Know Before Creating a Custom Engagement Ring
Specially crafted tips from our engagement ring specialists, and questions answered from brides across the country.
When you find a love as unique as yours, it only makes sense to design your own engagement ring that’s just as unique. If you’ve browsed the jewelry stores and haven’t found something you love or you simply want more meaning behind the ring, consider a custom engagement ring. With our guide, you’ll know the perfect way to do it. While there are so many gorgeous rings available in jewelers everywhere, there are lots of reasons to choose a custom made engagement ring instead.
Having a ring made, means you’re involved in every step of the process. Because of this, you can be in control of, and make the most of your budget, by selecting stones and styles that get the most bang for your buck. Oftentimes, when couples are looking at engagement rings, they may like a band from one, a stone from another, and a setting from a third, by selecting a bespoke ring, you get to have all your favorite details in a single piece. And of course, it’s pretty wonderful to have a ring that’s 100% yours. Having a ring made just for you, is probably a once in a lifetime experience. Your engagement ring is likely one of the most treasured gifts you’ll ever give, or be given, so by having one custom made, you’re creating something that’s not just unique, but truly special too. You don’t have to be creative or artistic to make a bespoke ring, by teaming up with a jeweler who specializes in custom pieces, you’ll be able to work together to design something perfect.
Here are nine tips to help you along the way:
1. Allow Extra Time
A custom ring design takes much longer than choosing a ring out of a jeweler’s display case. The process involves creating the design from scratch and then actually bringing that design to life. You’ll engage in discussion with the artist to share your actual design ideas and could have to continue the discussions if you want to make any
changes to the design the craftsman creates.
If you want to build your own engagement ring, start as early as possible. The process typically includes an initial design consultation, sketched design, 3D model or computer rendering, adjustments to the design and the actual creation of the ring. It can take six weeks or more to get your custom ring once you order. Having patience during the process makes it easier to handle the nerves.
2. Set Your Budget
It’s always important to have a budget in mind when you start ring shopping. When you buy a pre-made ring, you can easily see the price tag and know whether the ring is in your budget. When you design your own ring, the various materials, elements and intricacy of the conception all factor into the cost, so you won’t know the total price until you choose all your design elements. Having a cap for your budget prevents you from going overboard.
A budget can also help you make decisions on some of the design elements. For example, you might opt for palladium instead of platinum to get a similar look for a much lower price. You might choose a slightly smaller center diamond to keep the project under budget.
Bear in mind that custom jewelry work comes with a higher price tag than a ring out of the jeweler’s case. A custom ring takes a lot longer to produce, due to the design time and the actual crafting of the custom ring, which can increase the cost.
3. Select Your Jeweler Carefully
The jeweler you choose is one of the most important aspects of designing your ring. It affects how well the entire process goes. Working with a reputable dealer with extensive experience in designing and creating jewelry is important. Your significant other will wear this ring forever, so you want it to be a well-made piece of the highest quality.
Another aspect of selecting a jeweler is finding someone who shares your vision and is willing to bring it to life. You want someone who listens to your design input and includes it in the ring. If a jeweler focuses primarily on a style that’s completely different than your vision, you may find the process is more complicated. Bitton Diamonds is one of North Dallas’ premier and most trusted jewelers for custom engagement rings.
4. Consider Her Tastes
When it comes down to it, this ring is all about your sweetie. You want to wow her not only with the proposal but also with a ring that truly fits her personality and style. How do you go about figuring out what she might like? If you haven’t gone ring shopping together, it may take a little investigative work.
Here are some ways to figure out what she might want in her custom ring design:
- Look at the general style, metals and stones in her existing jewelry collection
- Consider her overall style — does she like flashy or simple things?
- Ask her close friends or family members for hints
- Casually browse rings with her either online or at the jewelry store to see what draws her eye
- Consider her job and lifestyle so you choose a ring that can keep up with her
- Ask her outright for suggestions if she already knows the proposal is coming
No matter what, the ring will be meaningful because you designed it yourself. However, it will be even more touching if it suits her tastes. She’ll see that you know her well and cared about creating something she loves.
5. Find Inspiration
Just because you’re designing a custom ring doesn’t mean you have to come up with every aspect of the ring design from scratch. You can find a lot of inspiration from existing rings. Browsing the selection at your jewelry store of choice can help you determine what types of rings you like and what you don’t like. In some cases, you might find certain things you like about several different rings. You might combine those best features of several rings into one perfect design. For example, you might like the shape of the center stone on one ring, the arrangement of the accent stones on another and the metal detailing on a third ring.
Your inspiration doesn’t have to come from other engagement rings. Point out any jewelry that catches your eye or has a similar feel and look that you want to capture in your ring. An experienced jeweler can advise you on how to integrate those elements into a beautiful ring design.
6. Narrow Down the Style
Choosing an overall style for the ring helps you make selections for the particular design element in the ring. Unique engagement rings come in all types, from classic and traditional to ultra modern. That means no matter what your significant other prefers, you can create a one-of-a-kind piece just for her.
Several styles of engagement rings exist. Many of those styles work with both traditional and modern looks. Some common styles include:
- Solitaire: The solitaire style typically features a simple design. It has one center stone without any side stones. The type of setting, the shape of the stone and the metal used in the ring can make it look unique even with such a simple style.
- Side stones: If you want something a little more dazzling than a single stone, add side stones to accent the central stone.
- Halo: A halo setting features the central stone surrounded completely by smaller stones, creating the look of a halo around it. The center stone can be almost any shape. This style may also have smaller stones running along the band.
- Three stone: A three-stone ring features the center stone flanked by two slightly smaller side stones. The band can have other accents, such as additional stones, scrolls or other detailing.
- Vintage: Another popular option is the vintage or heirloom style rings. These rings are new, but they take on an antique look.
The setting you choose also affects the overall style and look of the ring. The different setting types each offer pros and cons. Standard options include:
- Prong: One of the most popular options, the prong setting features small claw-like prongs that hold the stone in place. The most common configurations include either four or six prongs. This option shows most of the diamond and lets in lots of light to create a brilliant effect. Keep in mind that because the prongs stick up, they can get caught on things and can sometimes loosen, which can cause the stone to fall out of the ring.
- Bezel: A bezel setting is another attractive option and features a metal rim that goes around the stone to keep it secure. Full bezels cover all sides of the rock, while partial bezels feature open sides. This option is safe, won’t snag and protects the diamond, but it covers more of the diamond than prong settings.
- Tension: In a tension setting, the band holds the ring in place to create a suspended effect. The two ends of the band create enough tension or pressure to hold the diamond in place. This setting shows a significant portion of the stone and creates a modern effect. It requires precise crafting to get the right amount of tension.
- Channel Setting: This option is found most often with accent stones along the band, which features a groove or channel that holds the diamonds in place. It’s a secure way to keep the stones in place while minimizing snagging.
- Pave setting: Several small diamonds are set close together inside holes drilled for the diamonds and using tiny metal beads to keep them in place. The resulting ring looks like it has a continuous blanket of diamonds covering it. The pave setting is used typically for the side stones.
- Bar setting: The bar setting uses vertical metal bars to hold each of the stones in place. This means only two sides of each diamond are protected, as the top and bottom edge are left exposed.
7. Select the Material
The band material is another important decision to make when creating your design. The metal options come in three main colors: yellow, white and rose. Color isn’t the only choice, though. White metal comes in a few different options. Understanding the pros and cons of each option makes it easier to decide what to use for your ring.
Choose from these standard engagement ring metal options:
- Yellow gold: A traditional choice, yellow gold is a common material for engagement rings. The metal naturally comes in a yellow color and has a warm hue to it. Gold is an easy metal to work with and is more affordable than some other metals, which adds to its popularity. It’s combined with other metal alloys to strengthen it. The karat measurement tells you how pure the gold is. Metal that is 24 karats is pure gold but is too soft to use in jewelry. More standard options for rings are 10-karat, 14-karat and 18-karat.
- Rose gold: If you choose a rose gold ring, you get all the benefits of yellow gold with the different rose tint. This metal option starts as traditional yellow gold with copper alloy added to create the pink effect. The shade varies, but the more copper alloy added, the pinker the metal looks.
- White gold: Another variation of color is white gold. Again, the ring starts as yellow gold. It gets its white effect from rhodium plating. That coating can wear away over time to make the ring look more like yellow gold.
- Palladium: This natural alloy creates a bright, silver-white look on your ring. This flexible metal is hypoallergenic, making it comfortable to wear even if your skin is sensitive, and it won’t tarnish. It’s similar to platinum but generally costs less.
- Platinum: Platinum’s rarity makes it an expensive metal option, but it’s very dense and durable for greater protection and lasting wear. It is also hypoallergenic. Platinum has a natural pure white color with a cool tone, so it doesn’t affect the color of your center stone. This metal retains its sheen and color over time so that it won’t look faded.
When choosing a metal for the ring, consider the type of metal that dominates her existing jewelry collection. You can also mix metals for a two-tone effect. This option also makes the ring more versatile, so it pairs well with her entire jewelry collection. Using a white metal for the setting enhances the diamond.
8. Choose Stones
While the metal affects the overall durability and look of the ring, the stone is the most prominent component of the design. Most engagement rings feature a large center stone. They can also have side stones as accents in several different configurations. The side stones highlight the center stone and add extra shine and brilliance to the ring.
The diamond is the most traditional option for an engagement ring. Diamonds create a dazzling, brilliant effect in the ring and look great in any setting. You can pour over all the technical specs of a diamond, but choosing the perfect stone is about following your own instincts. Pick a rock that looks beautiful and brilliant to you, and she’s sure to love it.
If your love is a little less traditional, consider alternative stone options. One way to stray slightly from tradition is by choosing a colored diamond. Colorless diamonds are considered the standard, but the stones come in many different colors, including blue, pink, yellow, green, black and red. Color-enhanced diamonds are an option, with natural diamonds undergoing unique processes to create the effect of different colors.
You aren’t limited to diamonds for your engagement ring stones. You can incorporate any stone into your design based on your special someone’s preferences. Consider stones such as amethyst, turquoise, sapphire, morganite, topaz or another favorite stone.
Mixing multiple types of stones is one creative design approach to integrating traditional diamonds with the modern look of alternative stones. Choose a diamond as the center stone with a different kind of stone as accents. You can also reverse that concept with the alternative stone option as the center stone and small diamonds accenting it.
You can view our comprehensive guide to selecting a diamond below.
9. Enjoy the Process
Designing your own ring requires many decisions. It’s easy to become overwhelmed during the process. If you feel yourself starting to stress about the choices, focus on why you’re doing all of this. Ultimately, designing the ring should be an enjoyable and memorable process capped by the actual proposal when you get to present your custom work to your bride-to-be.
Prioritizing the diamond 4Cs to fit your budget
Get insight into what the 4Cs really mean — and know where you can give a little and still get a beautiful diamond. In the same way that you check the Blue Book value of a car before you buy it or the Zagat rating of a high-end restaurant before you book a reservation, you can compare the quality and value of diamonds based on their grade.
Once you fully understand the diamond 4Cs, you can use them to your advantage, learning how to prioritize one over the other to find a beautiful diamond within your budget. That grade is made up of four factors, often known as the 4Cs: cut, clarity, color and carat weight. Each “C” has its own grading scale for evaluating quality. Put together, the diamond 4Cs help diamond sellers determine price and compare diamonds to one another. They’re also a useful tool for shoppers — and the more you understand about them, the savvier you’ll be in choosing your diamond.
Why the 4Cs matter
When the diamond 4Cs were introduced in the mid-20th century, for the first time ever the world had a universal standard for judging the quality of a diamond and a transparent way of determining its value. The 4Cs also became a tool for people to understand why they might want to buy one diamond over another, when it was often hard to discern differences between two different diamonds with the naked eye.
The diamond 4Cs are still as important today as they’ve always been. However, a renewed emphasis on one of the Cs (cut) can help a diamond shine more brilliantly. Knowing this means you as a shopper can prioritize some Cs over others to find a diamond that works within your budget.
Navigating the Cs
When you shop for a diamond, you may see a string of letters and numbers that indicate the diamond’s grade. It might look something like this: 1 ct E VS1. Diamond experts will tell you that’s a very nice diamond — and probably a quite expensive one.
Let’s demystify the 4Cs and the way diamonds are graded.
CARAT: THE HEAVY ON DIAMOND WEIGHT
People often mistake carats as a measurement of size, but they actually measure weight. Diamonds are also measured in points: 100 points equals 1 carat. The abbreviation "ctw" standards for “carat total weight,” which measures the total weight of all diamonds in a piece of jewelry.
Very small differences in carat weight can sometimes result in a disproportionate spread in cost. To the eye, the difference between a 1.1-carat and 1.2-carat diamond (1 1/10 carat and 1 1/5 carat diamond) might be impossible to discern, but the cost difference between those carat weights can be thousands of dollars for otherwise identical diamonds.
If shaving off cost on a diamond, start by looking at a diamond 10 or 15 points less than a diamond you like. For example, if you love a 1.20-carat (1 1/5 carat) diamond, see what it looks like next to a 1.10-carat (1 1/10 carat) diamond of the same quality — it’s likely you’ll have difficulty seeing a big difference, but you may save hundreds of dollars.
COLOR: WHITE IS RIGHT
Diamonds come out of the earth in many different colors. The market has traditionally valued white diamonds higher than others, and the grading scale reflects that. The D grade, at the top of the scale, is considered “colorless,” rarest and most expensive. Going down the 23-grade scale from D to Z, diamonds become progressively more yellow, brown or gray.
Most diamonds sold for jewelry today are considered “near colorless” — between G and J on the color scale. At a J grade and beyond, the human eye can start to detect a yellow tint.
A D-color diamond is a rare specimen — and it costs a pretty penny. Moving down the color scale toward H or I lets you buy a diamond that still appears white, but is more common and thus more affordable.
One thing to note: color diamonds have become more valuable as they’ve become more fashionable, and “fancy” colors, when they occur naturally, are rare and expensive. (Diamond color treatments can help you get these coveted colors for less.)
CLARITY: NATURAL FLAWS
The clarity grade is a reminder that, after all, a diamond is a thing of nature — and like most natural things, it's rarely perfect. Like any rock or mineral, diamonds often have flaws, known as inclusions and blemishes. Diamond cutters try to cut and polish a diamond to hide these inclusions or work around them, but they’re still there — and the clarity grade measures them. The scale ranges from flawless to heavily included:
F (flawless inside and out)
IF (internally flawless, which means there are blemishes on the surface but not inside the diamond)
VVS1 and VVS2 (very, very slightly included – two levels)
VS1 and VS2 (very slightly included – two levels)
SI1 and SI2 (slightly included – two levels)
I1, I2 and I3 (included – three levels)
It may be difficult to see inclusions with the naked eye unless you look closely, depending on where they are located within the diamond. But every diamond is different, so you have to look for yourself. If you look at an SI2 diamond and personally can’t see the inclusions without a jeweler’s loupe, you can probably accept a lower grade and save on cost without compromising beauty.
CUT: BRINGING OUT THE BEAUTY
A diamond’s cut is harder to quantify than color, clarity and carat weight. That’s because cuts can vary from diamond to diamond and have to do with how the diamond cutter chooses to shape, facet and polish a diamond. Sometimes diamonds are cut so they’re heavier, thus fetching more value for their carat weight; sometimes they’re cut to hide or minimize inclusions.
But many diamond companies are focused on cutting diamonds for beauty. A diamond is essentially a prism of light, and diamond cutters work to let the most light shine through each stone. When done well, a diamond’s cut can be the most important C. When grading the cut of a diamond, laboratories evaluate the diamond’s:
The light that reflects from the diamond.
How the light scatters through the diamond to create a rainbow of light, like a prism.
The amount of intense sparkle or flashes that occur across the surface of the diamond as it moves under light.
Diamond cuts are often evaluated as:
Ideal or near ideal (meaning that the angles and proportions of the diamond have been cut to produce the ultimate brightness, fire and scintillation)
- Very good
Making the Cs work for you
Now that you understand the diamond 4Cs, you can use them to your advantage. As you are comparing diamonds and trying to work within your budget, consider how you might:
- Get a beautiful, sparkling diamond by focusing on cut while sliding down the scale a few levels on color and clarity.
- Get a larger diamond but scale back a fraction of a carat (10-20 points) to save money.
Buy a lower-weight diamond but a near-ideal or ideal cut, focusing on the diamond’s radiance and beauty and putting less emphasis on the size.
The 4Cs will reassure you that you’re buying a quality diamond and getting what you pay for, but remember that they’re really just a tool. Rather than bragging about her “1-ct. E VS1” diamond, your fiancée will exclaim, “Look at my beautiful diamond engagement ring!” And that’s ultimately what matters most.
Bitton Diamonds is North Dallas’ premier jewelry store & source for diamonds and gemstones. With years of expertise in the fine jewelry and gemstone industry, you can expect the highest quality service by our trained staff.
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