Ever thought designing your own engagement ring is something only Real Housewives or uber-famous A-listers get to do? Think again...
Because that definitely isn’t the case. In fact, designing custom engagement or wedding bands is an increasingly popular option for couples who want to put their own stamp (sometimes quite literally) on their rings. It makes perfect sense: these rings and bands are usually worn all day, every day for years and years. Think of it as the ultimate DIY accessory, except you're dealing with gemstones and metals instead of glue guns and mason jars. But what makes it such an appealing alternative to buying a ring from a shop window? Chances are you’re keen to find out, so we got the low-down from one of Australia’s top jewellers (who just so happens to specialise in custom-made rings) to discover what really goes into making the most important piece of jewellery you’ll likely ever wear.
Both partners can get involved
The custom design process isn’t exclusively for the person who plans on getting down on one knee. “Brides are definitely getting more involved with the design process than ever before,” explains Nicole Conti from Larsen Jewellery. “Even if they don’t necessarily take part in the actual design process, most brides have dropped a hint or few to give their partner some guidance.” Read: there are a couple of ways to get in on the design action. A proposal without a ring or with one of those kitschy (and delicious) candy rings gives both partners the opportunity to tap into their inner jeweller at an appointment once the question has been popped. Couples who know an engagement is on the cards could even design a ring together before the proposal. To steer your partner in the right direction, another option is to ‘accidentally’ leave your Pinterest board open on your laptop...
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So. Many. Diamonds.
The design process is a breeze
You don’t need to be a seasoned jeweller to design your own ring, but you do need to make an appointment with one to get the ball rolling. “The first step is to sit down for an initial design appointment, where a jeweller will talk you through the different design options and have you try on plenty of ring samples from our display,” Nicole says. “During this appointment we also take the finger size (or an estimate) and show you a beautiful selection of loose diamonds or coloured gemstones that come within your budget.” If you have a definite idea of what you’re looking for, you might be able to knock over the design in one appointment. Once the design is locked down, a 3D image of the ring is mocked up for approval and any tweaks or changes are made. When the final design is given the go-ahead, the jewellers start making the ring. See? We told you it was easy.
You can actually customise everything...
Put simply, designing your own ring means you aren’t limited to the designs you see in a shop window or in a catalogue. The only limit is your imagination. “All of our rings are made to order,” says Nicole. “Every single element of the design can be customised, from the metal and fine detailing to the shape, colour, quality and size of the stones, whether that is a stunning diamond or exquisite coloured gemstone.” Trying on some classic sample designs is a great starting point, because it will give you an idea of what you do and don’t like. From here you can make some changes to the sample or come up with your own one-off design. “Most customers will customise at least a small aspect of their design to give a personal touch.”
...And that means you don’t have to compromise
Oh yeah, that’s right. By designing your own ring or band, you won’t have to settle for styles or elements you don’t absolutely love. It also means you can have a ring that suits you, be it a practical design or one that's a total knockout. “The custom ring process is brilliant and most suitable for everyone, simply because it means there’s no compromising on what you want,” Nicole shares. “This is why we specialise in made to order. You can have exactly what you have in mind (as long as it is technically viable).” As well as having complete creative control, couples also have the chance to guarantee the provenance of the diamonds. “High ethical standards are at the heart of everything we do, from ensuring that our diamonds are conflict-free to providing unbiased advice when buying a loose diamond.”
It's more affordable than you think
Generally speaking, custom-made products do have a tendency to be more expensive - this is a common misconception couples often have about bespoke rings too. And while a custom ring may not be the same price as designs you’d buy retail, that doesn’t mean you’ll burn a hole in your wallet. “All our custom-made jewellery is made here in Australia, in the workshops attached to our studios,” says Nicole. “This means you are buying directly from the jewellery workshop where the jewellery is made. We don’t have the high overheads associated with a retail store, so we are able to offer competitive workshop prices and true value for money.” The final price will ultimately depend on a handful of variables, including the size of the diamond or gemstone, the quality, metal choice and detailing involved. “It’s difficult to give a price bracket because some customers spend $3000 while others may spend $60,000. It’s that broad,” Nicole says. Don’t fret though, because budgets will always be taken into consideration and adjustments can be made, whether it’s tweaking the clarity of the stone, changing the band metal or altering the size of the diamonds. “Fine details influence the price, as well as the complexity of the design. A very detailed design will be higher in price than a plain solitaire, and a heavy design is going to be more expensive than a fine, dainty design.”
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*adds to cart*
It’s kind of addictive (and there’s even champagne involved)
Chances are that once you’ve designed your own engagement rings, you’ll be keen to do the same with your wedding bands – and that’s where the champagne comes in. Couples can arrange an exclusive Wedding Ring Experience with Larsen Jewellery. This is your opportunity to design your partner’s band under the guidance of an expert jeweller. The process takes between four and five hours. “We guarantee the end result is as perfect as if our jewellers had made them,” shares Nicole. “Any diamond setting or detailing will be done by us after the day, but if you simply require two plain bands, you can take them home with you on the same day! We also provide champagne, a light lunch and the images of your experience on a disc.”
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