Are celebrities the only ones who can afford custom jewelry? It really depends on your definition of “custom.” Only you can decide if a custom engagement ring is the right choice for you, but there are some important considerations to think through before you proceed.
First, you need to know your budget for the diamond and the setting. Familiarize yourself with The Four Cs because diamond prices vary a lot from one weight to another, depending on how you combine the Four Cs in your setting. While your budget amount might evolve over time, having a number or range in mind means you will be better able to compare ‘apples with apples’.
It's all about the center stone
Most brides know the shape/cut of the diamond center stone they’d like. The center stone shape is crucial because it influences the rest of the design. Once you’ve narrowed the options down to the particular cut, or shape, deciding on your preferred stone is all instincts. Usually, the one you go back to consistently is the one you should choose.
Put the bride's taste first
Most women have a very clear idea of what their dream engagement ring looks like. If you’re not shopping together, don’t create a custom engagement ring based on your personal preferences. If you want to surprise your fiancé with a ring and proposal, the ring needs to be designed with her in mind.
No idea what she’d like? A good designer can help steer you toward a classic design that is universally regarded as beautiful, like a round diamond solitaire. However, if you really are going into this cold, going to the trouble of designing a custom engagement ring could have disastrous consequences. There’s no returning an item that was made just for you!
If you have your heart set on a one-of-a-kind engagement ring, the bride really needs to have expressed her preferences in advance. If she hasn’t, think hard: Maybe she mentioned she liked a certain style one day when you were window-shopping, or when she saw a mutual friend’s ring. Maybe she liked a picture on Facebook or Instagram, or pinned engagement ring photos to a Pinterest board. Play detective!
Is custom expensive?
Are you looking to have the jeweler design and hand-cast a mold from scratch? Think about wedding cakes. Imagine how involved (and costly) it would be to have a baker develop a unique recipe for you, plus a design inspired by your love of an obscure castle in Scotland. This would require time to research the design, perfect the recipe, and develop custom tools and molds to aid in replicating the details. Alternatively, you could choose a cake design from the baker’s past cakes. You can personalize the color palette, as well as many of the details.
An custom engagement ring requires the jeweler to be able to interpret the client’s ideas. This takes time and will likely incur a surcharge or consultation fee. The surcharge typically comes from the added time it takes the jeweler to meet with the client and create the renderings, as well as the workshop having to execute a “one-off” ring design versus a “pre-set” mounting.
Get a "custom look" for less
A more cost-effective plan can be to combine different elements of existing styles into an original and personal design. Everyone wants their ring to be unique and different. However, in reality, an engagement ring should be timeless and classic. Get creative with the details but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Review the different options, and start imagining how you might mix and match different elements to achieve your desired look. Pay close attention to the center stone’s setting. Do you want to go with a prong-set design, halo, an unadorned bezel, or a combo of all three? The metal color, number, and style of prongs can be adjusted. You can have multiple halos, or detail the undercarriage of the ring’s head with filigree or micropavé. Another option is a surprise diamond “hidden” somewhere on the design. Many brides incorporate a stone or stones they already have into a design.
The band can also take many forms. Choose from thick and wide or super slim and elegant. Other options include tapered, knife-edged, shiny, brushed, engraved with an inscription, or detailed with channel-set, invisibly-set, bead-set, or gypsy-set. Some couples add diamonds and/or colored stones.
The possibilities for customization are plentiful and don’t have to come at a premium.