In the span of a week, NYC-based designer Wendy Brandes won the WJA Award for Excellence in Design and announced the premiere of Wendy Brandes Wedding, her first foray into bridal territory. Well, officially anyway; she’s been creating custom engagement rings for a handful of clients for a while now.
Fans of her work might describe it a number of ways—gypsy glam, tough luxe, with a wicked dash of irony (even when working with heaps of rich gold and platinum and exotic gemstones to create marvelously sculpted treasures inspired by empresses and ill-fated queens)—these would be fair assessments. The hope is that some of these signature qualities will sneak their way into her spin on engagement rings, or, “mangagement” rings as the case may be.
“We have one in the works as we speak,” says the designer. “The bride-to-be is doing the proposing with a large brown diamond, which we absolutely adore.”
Brandes and her team mean to shake up the industry’s more traditional views on engagement rings being marketed specifically to cisgendered, heterosexual couples. As such, Wendy Brandes Wedding will include jewelry for both men and women, often with a nontraditional unisex slant.
Retailers have the option to partner with Brandes on bespoke rings for individual clients
Custom engagement ring with a 2.5 ct. heirloom diamond in 18k rose gold, price upon request (left); Custom Helen Perma-Stacked Ring with heirloom diamonds in 18k rose gold and platinum, price upon request (right)
or claim one of her extremely limited edition semi-mounts as an option for their bridal customers. No more than five of each of these designs will be created—and only one per city is allowed—which might be an attractive option to the millennial bride who is obsessed with having a ring that no one else has.
Ballerina-Style Ring with 199 diamonds and a round diamond center stone in platinum with customizable, hidden rose gold text, $18,500 (center stone sold separately). The rose gold “50” was for a customer celebrating a 50th anniversary; that space can be customized with something significant to the couple.
Though the above rings feature plenty of sparkle, the aim is to make this collection, in the designer’s own words, feel “low glow” and “unfussy”—the embodiment of “covert luxury.”
But can this be said of a tiara? Just take a look at Wendy Brandes Wedding’s leading lady, a customizable headpiece known as the Queen of Scots Tiara. It’s glitz-free, feels more like a Victorian antique find than a newly minted design, and, as you can see from the photo of the bride for whom it was made, is surprisingly understated.
Queen of Scots Tiara with a baroque south sea pearl, 0.5 ct. t.w. diamonds, and 9 pts of rubies in 18k yellow gold with 18k blackened rose gold wire loops (for securing with pins), price upon request; Photo of bride courtesy of Heathwood Photography
(Top: Limited-edition Romantic Vine Ring with diamonds and rubies in 18k yellow gold, stones sold separately, $5,000)
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