When you read one of my Britt’s Picks, or an article I’ve written about a new jewelry collection, know that I’ve chosen those things to talk about because I really, truly love them. I covet them for my very own, knowing that there’s a pretty good chance they never will be (though I do tend to pick up the odd earring or two along the way, each one a staple in my small, beloved collection).
Which is why I don’t often report on engagement rings and other wedding jewelry. I know they’re absolutely vital to a retailer’s business, but I’ve often found it difficult to speak from the heart on even the most amazing creations, because I struggle to put myself in the shoes of a current-day bride or groom—I’ve already been there.
Until for some reason, I started writing about engagement rings. Like, a lot.
One after another, they kept coming, my inbox flooded with the most glorious assortment of rings. And I found I couldn’t stop that feeling of wanting—that desire to maybe, possibly, let myself think that I was in the market for an engagement ring. Something was up.
And then one day an email came through featuring some rings from Single Stone. Tucked into a group of styles was the Ruth ring: a smooth luscious creation set with a trio of sparkling diamonds that made my heart skip a beat. It was an instant Britt’s Pick, the words pouring out like liquid gold—I was in love. And then I kept seeing more gypsy-style rings, further cementing the temptation to just go ahead and claim one already.
And so I indulged the idea that hey, maybe I could update my own ring. I didn’t wear my engagement ring much—only the band—and what a shame that was. Since having a baby nearly two years ago now (wowzers, it’s going fast!) my new lifestyle just wasn’t conducive to the somewhat higher level of my prong-set, round diamond ring with a sapphire on each side, and it was too big for my finger now anyway. It needed to be rhodium-dipped to take care of the yellow bleeding through in the back (it was in white gold), and it was just starting to look a little tired. While it functioned as a representation of my loving marriage, and I wore it happily in that vein, it just didn’t excite me anymore. Where’s the good in that? Add to this the celebration of 10 years of marriage last October, and it just felt like maybe this was something I actually could pursue—I just didn’t know where to start.
So I began to send out a few inquiries, but I kept coming back to the work showcased by Single Stone. I just felt like it had to be them.
And so, it was. The remarkable team at Single Stone, led by owner and one-half of its husband-and-wife team, Corina Madilian, agreed to work with me and my budget, and together (though, I can’t really take much, if any, credit) we embarked on a ring redesign.
So here were my requirements: I wanted a bigger look—something that could function as a wedding set rolled into one, no more clinking rings, spinning diamonds, or wearing only one piece. I needed a lower profile—no more knocking it around, or worse, catching it on the baby. And finally, I wanted that gypsy style, in warm, brilliant yellow gold.
An exact replica of the Ruth ring I loved was out, since I had three stones from my engagement ring (a round 1 ct. diamond and two pear-shape sapphires) and five diamonds from my wedding band. I’d never seen a gypsy ring with so many stones and definitely worried about messing with that coveted look.
I sent off my original set to California, knowing I’d never see it the same way again, feeling just a twinge of sadness but mostly excitement.
Once it arrived, Corina and I went over the styles I liked best, and she then sent me a number of CAD works to choose from.
Here’s the part where I struggled a bit—as a customer, I can be a pushover. I’m the person who can’t send back a steak, the one who fears I’ll upset or insult someone, even at the cost of my own satisfaction (I know, it’s annoying). But this was my ring, the most important piece of jewelry I’d own, so I had to strive to be less timid. But thankfully I was put at ease, assured that my requests were understood and that it was completely okay to ask for them. If you’re working on a project like this with a customer, I implore you to show the same amount of patience that I was given—it’s not always easy for a customer to be direct about exactly what they want, and I have worked with other artists in the past (not jewelry-related) that showed visible frustration at the suggestion of edits. This experience soothed my fears in a big way, hopefully setting me up to be a stronger, more verbal customer. Just the other day, I sent back the wrong drink at a restaurant. Progress starts somewhere, right?
Anyway, after a number of CADs so I could see how each style looked (sapphire pears pointed out or in? Diamonds stacked like a colon or in a line? Who knew there’d be so many little elements to this?), we ended up going with the very first one Corina sent. And if it had been me as the designer, I would have been all like, “See? I told you I was right.” But that wouldn’t win me any points on Yelp, and Corina is a professional, so she let me figure it all out for myself. Which is exactly what anyone should do, because I felt heard, and even if the journey to my ring took a roundabout way, in the end I came to it knowing I had seen all of my options and felt absolutely zero hesitation about my choice.
Until of course, the time came to open the ring. A few days before Christmas, sitting next to my in-laws’ impeccably decorated tree, I unwrapped a dark blue box, the butterflies in my stomach taking beginner’s flying lessons. What if I hated it? What if this was all a mistake? Oh no, what will I say to the team that worked on this, all the effort and time and—oh, for goodness’ sake, just open the box!
And so I did. And the butterflies went away. This ring was exactly what I wanted and more, and it fit like it was meant to be mine (which I suppose, it was).
One of my big worries in this whole thing was that I’d lose the sense that this was “my ring,” the one I’d worn for the last 10 years of marriage, the one I knew and loved, even if I was sort of cooling on it. But I look at this ring on my finger now, and everything it has meant to me for these last 10-plus years is still there. The sparkle of my center diamond that seems to know me so well, the blue glow of my sapphires. Even the diamonds from my wedding band, which I was never fully enamored with (I purchased it from the retail store where I worked, a consignment piece that sorta fit with my engagement ring, sparkled just enough, and basically fit the bill), now have a starring role that makes them feel more worthy of the love this ring represents.
Since I had five diamonds in my wedding band, one of them was placed on the underside of the ring, to keep it an even four up front. A “peekaboo diamond,” as we used to call it in the store, a little surprise just for me. I never thought I’d appreciate it as much as I actually do. I spend a lot of time rubbing on it, my finger constantly grazing over the burnish-set stone, probably smudging its surface but all the same serving as a sweet reminder that this ring was made for me, every detail an important one to both myself and the hands that made this.
I feel like I have my very own “major piece.” My carat weight hasn’t changed, but the ring’s stature has, its presence ever more a wow than my original set ever was. And yet it’s an ode to my old rings, one that pays tribute to the first 10 years of my marriage and also one that acknowledges that I’ve changed—my style, my preferences, my life. It’s so perfectly suited to me and it means more than I could have ever imagined. I thought it would take years to warm up to a new piece, to make it feel like it was truly mine, but it was instant.
Not only do I share these things to give retailers and designers an idea of the customer mindset when it comes to this journey, but for the customers to understand the process, too. I would have never known how nuanced a redesign can be (though I should have guessed). I am no jewelry designer—all I really am is a big fan of their works—and so I never could have come up with the number of possibilities presented to me on my own. As a retailer or designer, if you come across someone who knows precisely what they want down to the last detail, is that a blessing or a curse, I wonder? In my case, I’m so thankful to have worked with someone I felt that I could trust, who lead this somewhat indecisive customer in the right direction.
I hope everyone who embarks on this process—whether on the business or consumer side—can have the same good fortune. It’s a worthwhile endeavor, I have found, and one that further cements my faith in my career, because it has proven just how emotionally valuable jewelry is, and so I’m all the more ecstatic to have absolutely anything to do with it.
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