Designers / Industry / Weddings

Michael Hogan’s Custom Engagement Ring Design Wins BIJC Contest


The winner of the Black in Jewelry Coalition’s 2023 Together by Design contest is a designer whose artistic training led to a one-of-a-kind engagement ring celebrating a lucky couple’s love of Ferris wheels, Coney Island, and sapphire gemstones.

A custom engagement ring by Michael Hogan of New York–based Michael Hogan Jewelry was selected as the winning design in the second annual Together by Design competition. The ring was created for two first responders from New York, also winners in the contest based on an entry about their love story.

The ring features a 1.44 ct GIA-graded fancy yellow diamond donated by Nungu Diamonds and platinum contributed by Platinum Guild International USA.

In phase one of the contest, which is sponsored by the Black in Jewelry Coalition (BIJC), couples were invited to submit the story of their romance to be eligible to win an engagement ring. The winning entry came from Nana, who shared his memories of meeting and falling in love with Jennifer. In phase two, jewelry designers submitted their ideas for a ring for the couple.

BIJC contest ring
Jewelry designer Michael Hogan used sapphires and a Ferris wheel motif in the engagement ring he designed to win the Black in Jewelry Coalition competition.

Hogan designed a ring incorporating things that are special to the couple: Its band is modeled after a Ferris wheel, and a date cherished by Jennifer and Nana is engraved in Roman numerals at the ring’s base. Hogan included sapphires to represent their spiritual journey during their courtship, he said in a statement.

“Each element holds deep personal meaning, meticulously intertwined within the design,” Hogan said. “That’s why I call it ‘Element of Love.’ It encapsulates these cherished symbols that resonate intimately with their story and emotions.”

As the winning designer, Hogan received a $5,000 cash prize, scholarships for a two-hour GIA online seminar and a GRS class, and one-year memberships in BIJC, Jewelers of America, and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

BIJC proposal
Nana proposed to Jennifer in a grand celebration attended by members of BIJC. Jennifer says in a video of the proposal that she was shocked.

BIJC created Together by Design in 2022 to spotlight Black love, recognize an emerging Black designer for their talent, and increase representation of Black designers within the bridal jewelry industry.

The competition’s inaugural winner was Trish Carruth of Your Personal Jeweler in Royal Oak, Mich., who designed a ring using a 1.31 ct. center stone donated by Leo Schachter and surrounded it with two radiant-cut accent diamonds to represent the past, present, and future of the couple’s love. Rio Grande donated the gold band, which outlined the Brooklyn Bridge, and the accent diamonds.

Judges for the design portion of the 2023 contest included Christian Bolling of Christian Stoné; Lauren Harwell Godfrey of Harwell Godfrey; Johnny Nelson of Johnny Nelson Jewelry; and Adrianne Sanogo, Graduate Gemologist. Love story judges included Tanya Dukes, jewelry editor and writer; Severine Ferrari, founder of Engagement 101; Michelle Graff, editor-in-chief of National Jeweler; and Lisa Jones, VP of human resources at GIA. All the judges for Together by Design are BIJC members.

The Together by Design committee was led by Nellie Barnett, manager of GIA corporate communications, and included Grace Barretti, marketing and social media manager for Greenwich St. Jewelers; Annie Doresca, Jewelers of America chief financial officer; Amanda Gizzi, director of PR and events for Jewelers of America; Graff; Elyssa Jenkins-Pérez, director of membership and marketing, Jewelers Vigilance Committee; Jones; Rebecca Moskal, marketing VP at Platinum Guild International; and Sanogo.

Top: Nana and Jennifer won a custom engagement ring designed by Michael Hogan in the Black in Jewelry Coalition’s Together by Design competition. (Photos courtesy of BIJC)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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