Put A Ring On It: The One-of-a-Kind Custom Engagement Ring, Chapter One

November 28th, 2008 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Recently, we had the pleasure of creating a one-of-a-kind engagement ring for a young man who is a student at our local Cal Baptist University, and is also in the Marine Corps.  As you might expect, our Cal Baptist clients take marriage seriously – one of the standing jokes around campus is “It’s spring, do you have the Ring?”

Our client, let’s call him “Dan,” had some definite ideas about what he wanted, but needed our help selecting the center stone and developing the design.  He also had female “helpers” – friends of the couple who knew more about jewelry than he did. Of course, since he’s a student, his budget was pretty much fixed.

First, the center had to be a natural Alexandrite and the side stones had to be pear shaped diamonds.  His preferred shape for the center was either princess or round.  We worked with two different AGTA suppliers and were able to show him several stones in each shape.  At Mardon, we buy our gems for stock by comparing side by side; so we think the added step is a real benefit and enhancement to the process of creating a true one-of-a-kind piece. Even though it adds to our costs, our clients really like this service.

He and his advisor/friend picked an absolutely gorgeous and gemmy round Alexandrite with a great color change and clarity that fit his budget perfectly. Then we showed him two matched pairs of pear shaped diamonds of slightly different size.  By having the center and side stones together, we were able to choose a perfectly balanced grouping for the engagement ring.

Next, he told us that his fiancée had a very small hand, liked white gold, and that he wanted an “Ivy” pattern incorporated into the design. We looked at several rings in stock to help define the look he wanted, and then went to work creating his design with our CAD/CAM system.

By working digitally, we were able to send him a rendering of the design very quickly and efficiently via email.   Because he wanted a very petite ring, our choices for the ivy design were limited to the area we had to work with.  Our first rendering wasn’t exactly what he had in mind…

After listening to his feedback, we were able to redesign the Ivy to a more graceful looking pattern that he loved—it was exactly what he had been thinking of!

The next step after design approval was to execute the design.  We begin by milling the design in wax using our CNC machine, and then cast the wax model using the lost wax method.

Dan wanted to participate in the entire process, so we showed him the wax before casting it in white gold.  Being able to view the finished wax model before casting is another big advantage for our clients – it’s often difficult to get the proper perspective from a drawing or a rendering, so seeing it in 3D and in actual size really helps.  He had some reservations about the size of the prongs, having seen a much-magnified computer rendering, so seeing his design in actual size really helped and assured him that everything was perfect!

Our expert craftsmen were able to complete the ring ahead of schedule and on budget.  Voilà, the finished product!

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