Thursday, April 3, 2014

Artisan LA's fabulous ENGAGEMENT RING GUIDE - part one - style

by Julio Benez 

Welcome future bride or groom to be!  I wanted to send out a little piece I put together about one of the best parts of being involved in the jewelry business... marriage.  It gives me such pleasure in helping a couple find or conceive and design the ring of their dreams.  At Artisan LA, we offer a wide assortment of gorgeous contemporary and vintage engagement and wedding rings.  In addition, over the last couple of years especially, our reputation for creating beautiful custom rings has grown far more than we could ever have imagined.   With so many options of styles and gems to choose from, this can truly be a daunting task (at first!).  However, we at Artisan LA put together a guide of useful tips drawn from my personal experience in custom ring design, as well as from sales of the vintage rings in the store.  We hope that this can offer a solid starting point and show you that this process should not be intimidating but rather fun!

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR - Finding the perfect ring.

In my experience, it’s always evident that your special someone usually has a pretty clear idea of what kind of ring he or she wants.  This leaves a partner who is looking to propose with two options: make an educated guess on a ring style or shop around together as a couple.  I see both situations equally often at the store.  One may become an undercover sleuth, asking the counsel of family or friends or perking up and taking note when a partner mentions a piece of jewelry they like.   Other couples may go ring shopping together, letting a future spouse be involved in the process and able to try on rings.  Of course involving a partner in this step take away the “if” and focuses on the “when”, but many couples are happy to choose this path so the ring search is more of a collaboration.  

Step One: Choosing the Style of the Ring.

An important question to ask yourself first is what style will suit the particular lifestyle of one’s spouse.  Depending on their profession, maybe it could be prohibitive or a nuisance to wear a bold and tall ring?  Many customers nowadays are asking for low profile rings and some are avoiding prongs altogether and going for flatter, bezel settings to suit a more active, hands-on lifestyles.  

In general there are three options on choosing the style of a engagement ring or wedding band: custom, vintage and contemporary design.  

Unique, Custom Design:  More and more couples are turning away from mass produced, chain store designs in favor of uniquely designed rings that have special meaning for them.  Custom designed rings require a great deal more time and effort but the result is truly worth it.  You have created a specific statement that symbolizes the person you care so greatly about.  This is quite a bonding experience and conversation piece on it’s own.

Here are some suggestions in breaking down the custom design process:

  1. Selection of the center stone.  We will delve into this further, but would you like one or two stones? What kind?  There is nothing more exciting in choosing the EXACT stone out of a selection of others, know you hand picked it specifically for your love.
  2. Next, browse for the overall style you think suits their taste. Divide the styles into general categories: clean sleek modern, geometric modern, romantic lacy, pavé, organic hand crafted, etc.  
  3. Show the styles to friends or family to get a second opinion.
  4. Look carefully at what she already owns.
  5. Take photographs so you and your designer can use them for inspiration. 

Once you have taken these steps, a designer will present you with a preliminary sketch of the ring or band.  Some designers utilize computer aided design (CAD) for more detailed representation.  However I have found that some hand sketches are more realistic... it just depends on the ring!

**A last note on custom rings:  Allot 5- 6 weeks for the custom made ring process.  It's helpful to not rush the process to make sure you fine tune your personally designed ring! 

Vintage:  In terms of engagement rings, most brides know right away if they want a vintage or new piece.  When one ventures into this area, the hunt for the perfect vintage ring can be quite overwhelming due to the range of styles suiting every fashion era.   Today, I find that lovers of vintage designs often prefer less shiny bling and a smaller, more intricate Art Nouveau designs.
It’s important to note that vintage rings can come with complications.  Due to the lack of regulations in the past, some antique piece may not actually be made of the exact karat they are stamped with inside the band.  Also over time stones can become chipped, scratched, loose and the overall quality of prongs and settings can become compromised.  Lastly, many vintage rings are fragile which makes sizing them not only difficult but risky.
A way to achieve a vintage look with a more secure quality of ring is to create a new ring out of a vintage mold.  Molds from Art Deco rings are in high demand lately but many styles exist and are available for replication.   One then has the opportunity to recreate an exact piece while upgrading the quality of the stone and metal.  It is even possible to reinterpret an original design with different colored stones and add a personal twist. 

Contemporary Design:  There are many modern day designers that specialize in wedding rings.  Jewelry design is an art and oftentimes a signature ring will be worth a fortune. Just remember, not all designers take custom orders or alter designs.  Don’t go to Picasso expecting him to paint a Matisse.  

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