How to Design Your Own Engagement Ring

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Perhaps you're picky about your jewelry. Or maybe you and your other half want a one-of-a-kind engagement ring that's as unique as your love. Whatever the reason, don't be intimidated by the idea of designing your own ring.

You don't have to bring home a six-figure salary or hold an advanced degree in metalworking. All you need is a budget and a little knowledge of jewelry design.

Consider this your crash course in engagement ring design, and you'll be custom-crafting your ring before you can say "I do."

It's All About the Rock

For many women, the most important element of an engagement ring is the size of its diamond. Flashy rocks symbolize wealth, but regardless of your financial situation, you're not necessarily stuck with a tiny stone. Lower-grade diamonds are often indistinguishable from some higher-priced stones to the naked, untrained eye, so as long as you don't mind a few microscopic imperfections, you can probably afford a diamond you don't have to squint at to see.

But you don't have to use a diamond at all. You probably have a friend with a gemstone engagement ring, a style that's been around forever. Many of the world's most famous brides proudly wore bands with precious rocks as centerpiece stones. Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana both received sapphire engagement rings, and Princess Sarah Ferguson sported a ruby ring after Prince Andrew proposed. The trend isn't exclusive to British royalty, either. John F. Kennedy gave Jackie a now-famous emerald-centric engagement ring when he asked for her hand.

Diamonds may be the most popular choice for engagement rings, but any precious stone will do. Just stay away from fake or imitation diamonds. No matter what the salesperson says, you'll know -- and so will anyone who sees the ring.

Precious Metals

So, what about the band? Silver and gold are traditional choices. Of course, silver is less expensive, but most modern couples tend to go with gold -- white gold or platinum if they're looking for a high-quality, silver-colored band. Titanium has become popular for men's wedding bands, and due to the ever-increasing price of gold, many women are now wearing (or at least considering) engagement bands made from this sturdy metal. Sales clerks hoping for a higher commission off a platinum ring might tell you that titanium can't be cut, so if your finger swells or your ring gets stuck on something, it's your precious digit that'll have to be cut off. Actually, a pair of bolt cutters or any standard jewel saw will slice through titanium. If you like the look of this metal, go for it with no reservations.

Make Sure It's Forever

Some contemporary diamond ring designs won't last for the ages.
Some contemporary diamond ring designs won't last for the ages.

You've picked the precious stone and metal. Now, it's time to choose a design. You don't have to come up with one out of thin air. Visit jewelry stores to peruse different styles. Check out the latest trends in wedding magazines. Consult a professional jeweler. If you're thinking less contemporary-chic and more timeless-classic, find inspiration from your favorite historical era or architectural style. Remember, you're creating this ring, so nothing is off-limits. Art Deco, Victorian and Byzantine-inspired bands are all new again with your signature take on the aesthetic. Retro styles, geometric designs, etched engravings -- it's all possible.

Even if you're on a tight budget, you can still draw inspiration from ritzy rings. Incorporate elements you like into your own design. You can't have the knuckle-sized diamond, but that filigree and intricate latticework? No problem!

One thing to stay away from? Fads. You'll probably be keeping this ring for the rest of your life, so go with a design that won't feel dated in a few years. Choosing an engagement ring based on its current popularity would be like getting a tattoo memorializing your Twitter user name. It might make sense right now, but in a decade or two, its relevance will have waned, and it'll just be embarrassing.

Know How Long It Takes

Once you've got the design finalized and have signed on to work with a reputable jeweler, get the promised delivery date in writing. Custom orders generally take longer to fill, so give the jeweler a little extra time unless you're prepared to flash a CZ stand-in at your engagement party!

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Sources

  • Allen, James. "Diamond Color. 2009. (June 9, 2010).http://www.jamesallen.com/education/color.asp
  • Gilletts Jewellers. "Is Diamond Carat Size More Important than Diamond Colour?" 2010. (June 9, 2010).http://gilletts.com.au/blog/engagement-rings/is-diamond-carat-size-more-important-than-diamond-colour/
  • TitaniumRings.com. "Frequently Asked Questions." 2010. (June 9, 2010).http://www.titaniumrings.com/faq.html