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Monday, November 8, 2010

Last year, I had the thrill of doing a custom engagement ring for handsome blogger Thom of The Sunday Best and his gorgeous fiancée, Sharon. It was the first engagement/wedding ring I ever did for a blogger; since then I’ve done many! Thom and Sharon must have brought me good luck.

Sharon’s Asscher-cut diamond set in white gold has a clean and elegant look. It’s much more traditional than most of the engagement rings I make, but, as I always tell my gorgeous clients, I am happy to create anything you want. It doesn’t have to be WendyB style, but it will definitely be WendyB quality.

Sharon's ring.

Thom took my message on custom work to heart and, when it came time to do his wedding band, he sent me a picture of an antique, iron, horse-hitching-post ring.

Well, he WAS getting hitched!

He said he wanted the ring just like this — black, iron-looking, and totally round (like a pipe) rather than flattened on the inside. Once again, Thom was a first in my jewelry-designing career. I don’t recall ever being truly surprised by a design request until this one. I was still sure I could give Thom what he wanted and I did. I used white gold that I  textured and blackened to look like antique iron. I snapped a picture before I sent it off to Thom.

Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Here’s the ring on Thom. Click the photo to read his post on it.

Click for Thom's post.

Before the ring got to Thom’s hand, it gave us a lot of drama. I sent it to him express only to have the package disappear into Canadian Customs for TEN DAYS. The day I sent his package, I sent one to Australia by a slower delivery option and that client got her piece long before Thom did. Canadian Customs and I are no longer friends as a result.

When the ring finally emerged from Customs … it didn’t fit. Sigh. Ring sizing is an art, not a science. The metal or plastic finger sizers that jewelers use give you a general idea of the size of your finger. But, unless your ring is the exact same shape and width as the sizer, you’re not going to get a perfectly accurate reading. My ring designs are definitely not the norm. For instance, there is no sizer that replicates the width of my Cleves swan ring. After wearing the ring myself, I’ve determined that customers should order half a size larger than what they normally wear. However, I’d never done a ring in the shape that Thom was requesting. If it had been flat inside and round on the outside, a standard sizer would have worked. Because it was round on the inside, less metal was touching his finger. When more metal touches the finger (like with the Cleves ring), a ring feels tighter. When less metal touches the finger, a ring feels looser.

I often direct people to various sites online that show you how to measure your finger with a piece of paper. That technique isn’t perfect either, because it doesn’t give you the feeling of pulling metal over your knuckle. So, if your knuckle is large compared to the bottom of your finger, you’re going to be way off.

Just to make it even more difficult, finger size is constantly in flux. I had no idea about that before I started wearing so many rings. Temperature, humidity, diet (salt!), and hormones all affect finger size. The effect is temporary but try on a ring at the wrong time and you’ll be way off. My Diana heart ring gave me an extreme case of the fluctuating-finger-size blues. I wear that ring in size 6, on my index finger, all the time. One morning I got up and it wouldn’t go on my finger. After running my hand under cold water, I was able to shove the Diana on. Later that day, I was at lunch with a friend and heard a “clang!” under the table. I looked down and there was Diana on the floor, having slithered off my hand without my feeling a thing. It went from too small to WAY too big in a single day — it hadn’t done that before and it hasn’t done it since.

Gorgeous blogger Tiffany is wearing my Diana ring design. I didn't make the blue ring, but I forgive her for wearing it.

When Thom told me the ring was too big, he asked if he could take it to a local jeweler for adjustment. I screamed, “NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO!” in my head. By email, I simply said that a local person may not have seen anything like this and I couldn’t guarantee a good outcome, so it would be best to send it back to me. When you’re dealing with unique designs and textures, it’s best to have the designer handle any repairs or changes, because people used to dealing with very basic designs won’t know what to do. A good example of that problem came to my attention thanks to the Diana ring, again. My gorgeous friend Jen was visiting a little jewelry shop opened by someone who acknowledged she was new to the business. As Jen was picking out a ring that she thought might be good inspiration for me (the only reason any of my friends should be allowed in other jewelry stores!), the shop owner kindly offered to polish up Jen’s Diana. The ring has a matte finish, like most of my pieces, and the shop owner made it so shiny that Jen could have used it as a mirror in a pinch. When Jen showed it to me, sheepishly, my hair nearly stood on end. I didn’t blame Jen, but I was furious with the shop owner for doing anything to a piece that she clearly didn’t understand. I repolished the Diana to return it to its original matte state, then went on to do Jen’s wedding jewelry.

Thom did send his ring back to me, along with several inexpensive rings he already owned for comparison. I also had him measure his finger with paper. Every result was different! Two of the rings he owned differed by a full size even though he wore them (at separate times) on the same finger. I averaged all the information together, came up with a new size and hoped for the best. During this process there was one more glitch: after I cut metal out of the ring and reshaped it, the ring needed to be repolished, re-texturized and re-plated with rhodium. The “iron” look of the ring was created by dipping the white gold in black rhodium, which was stripped away during the size change. I sent the ring to the same rhodium guy who had done it the first time around and the ring came back light gray instead of black. Same guy, same ring, different result. I sent it back and told him to do the work over again. That’s the kind of service I provide. Unlike the rhodium fellow, I don’t do work that’s not up to par and try to pass it off to the customer. I do all the quality control so you don’t have to.

That’s why y’all should come to me for your jewelry needs. I can do anything from traditional to radical, and I stick with it till you get the jewelry of your dreams.  If you have any questions, holla at me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com.

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33 Responses to “Custom Wedding Band for Iron Man Thom”

  1. Ooh wow, WendyB. This was a truly educational post. I can almost see you making a documentary out of this! Thom’s Iron Ring: The Journey of a White Gold Ring that Looks Like Iron with a bonus commentary on Canadian customs ehehehe.

    Vince got me the topaz ring for my birthday, by the way! I was very pleased. The topaz is as big as the nail of your pinky finger surrounded by small diamonds. Very traditional. I wonder how you would’ve designed it!

  2. Cameron says:

    I definitely hit you up as soon as I’ve the means to do so, as I would love to have a necklace done by you; I already know what I want, and just need a chance to draw it out.

  3. Jemina says:

    Oh the RING TRAGEDY!!!, I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, my wedding ring became too small, and then a few months after delivery, the ring was OK…

    Your Diana Ring design is fabulous, LOVE the matte finish, I’m going to browse through your shop and have a look at it again 🙂

    Enjoy your day

  4. Love these informative posts on your work x

  5. You know Wendy, one day when I have the funds, I will holla you until I am blue in the face. I wanna get married in swear rings!

  6. Marian says:

    Wow to the ring for Thom, well done honey.
    nothing like a custom made ring, so special.
    Marian xxx

  7. savvy gal says:

    Tiffany looked gorgeous in your ring. : )

  8. Leia says:

    You are SO talented WendyB. I’m (hopefully) getting married soon, maybe I need to e-mail you about rings, teehee

  9. haha!
    I knew you are always forgiving~
    Today I’m not wearing your either, DO forgive me pretty please….

  10. The care and attention and thoughtfulness you bring to your work cannot be found at the local Zales. Seriously, jewelry is a big investment and one doesn’t want to make their investments with a guy at the mall who is getting paid hourly and who eats his lunch at the food court. Right?
    Love Thom’s ring!

  11. Kristin says:

    I’ll definitely be hollering at you as soon as the hubs is done with school! And I am forever grateful that I got my wedding rings a little large. I was able to wear them my whole pregnancy in spite of the icky swelling. And that ring you made for Thom??? WICKED awesome!

  12. (FANGBANG anti-spam word).

    He’s so lucky … many “fine” jewelers are fine for the purchase but cannot or don’t know how to deal with issues.

  13. Lizzi S. says:

    Great post! You did an awesome job with Thom’s ring.

    After I run my rings won’t come off my fingers at all, but they fit fine at all other times.

  14. sharon rose says:

    Hi there-Thoms ring is just uniquely stunning, well done indeed! I sincerely hope my Diana doesn’t fall off without me realising, I’d be dumbstruck and mortified, but it hasn’t as yet anyway!

  15. Eli says:

    Gosh I love your inside edition posts, you really are an amazing artist

  16. Chelsea says:

    This is a great + entertaining post! I’m so intrigued by your work, I can’t wait to hear more in the future 🙂

    thanks for the comment on my blog!

  17. What a stunning beauty that first ring is!

  18. tiffany says:

    I LOVE my diana ring. Thanks for forgiving me for wearing the other ring 😉

    I can’t believe the jeweler polished it to be shiny! I love the matte-ness of the ring.

  19. drollgirl says:

    ohmy god it sounds like it is so hard to get ring sizing right!

    sometimes my rings are loosy goosy, and sometimes they are tight. i know salt plays a part! take all rings off if planning to eat chinese or japanese food! that soy! it gets me every time!

  20. Awesome job, darling!
    You are the best in the business!


  21. zarna says:

    what a crazy story!! it is a lovely wedding band though!


  22. Style Eyes says:

    Ok I am working on the other half. I love t idea of matt finish on jewellery.

  23. Winnie says:

    What a great story for that custom wedding ring! Thanks for the birthday wishes too Wendy!!

  24. Alicia says:

    Dudeguy saw the band from across the room and complimented it. That ring is just beyond. BEYOOOOOOOOND.

  25. Katie says:

    When my parents were getting married, my grandfather made my dad his ring himself. He worked away in his basement laboratory (he was a chemical engineer, so don’t ask me what he knew about making jewelry) and made my dad a beautiful hammered ring out of tin. I’m sure most designers would smirk at it, but I still think it’s one of the most handsome rings I’ve ever seen.

    As for the one you designed for Thom? Gorgeous! I so admire your commitment to your product, and the pride you put into everything that has your name on it. My sweetie and I have been talking about the future a lot lately, and you can bet I’ve been studying your posts like crazy to up my ring design knowledge.

  26. Wendy, THANK YOU for this post!!!

  27. Maddy says:

    I hear you! I always tell my photography clients to see me for crop resizing! Because if they do it themselves or have the lab do it, it might damage the vision I had for the photograph. My biggest pet peeve is when folks crop it themselves…it usually looks awful! Glad it worked out in the end for you and your client!

  28. Laurel H says:

    Love your work MizB … and this is an especial favorite. A designer here in San Diego makes “donuts” in silver and in 14k in addition to his other work. I use the silver versions to bracket other rings. Would love to add yours as a stand alone. Will you be making these available???

  29. stacy says:

    Very cool ring for a guy. Good choice. And good job!!

  30. I remember when you told me that horror story about the jeweler “polishing” that matte ring to a high-polish finish! yech!

    After reading about Thom’s ring, I have learned even more than I ever thought possible about how much goes on behind the jewelry scenes when you work on projects.

    I won’t even ask how many hours of toil and trouble you went through for my gorgeous, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind stacking rings.