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Thursday, March 6, 2014

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I redesigned my own engagement ring years after my 2001 wedding, but I’ve never found a good picture of the original to share. Turns out I wasn’t looking in the right place, because here’s a close-up of my first setting.

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Circa 2001.

As you can see, there’s nothing extraordinary about this, although the sleek, satin-finished, thick shank isn’t entirely typical either. At least it’s not the extra-skinny shank that’s so popular now because it’s supposed to make the stone look bigger. People also like prong settings because they think it makes the stone look bigger. Conventional wisdom says that the less metal you see, the bigger the stone looks. That’s why the woman who made my ring talked me out of my request for a bezel setting. She also said that I would get tired of the design that I really wanted because it wasn’t traditional enough — she thought it was more of a passing whimsy of mine, and I would be ultimately be uncomfortable being different.

Some five or six years later, I was in the jewelry business myself and needed to resize my ring. (I sprained my hand in a fall, which changed the shape of my fingers.) I started working on a simple resizing of the original band before I came to my senses and scrapped the old setting in favor of the one I wanted in the first place. The center stone is the same one I always had. I added the stones on the bezel and the shank.

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My engagement ring now, photographed a few minutes ago.

Guess what? I’m not tired of this design.

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Side view.

I learned a valuable life lesson from the experience.

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The studio shot of the ring for my website.

Previously, I’ve noted that designing jewelry gave me insight into romantic relationships. So it seems appropriate that an engagement ring would teach me that it’s better to follow your passion than do what someone says you “should” do. The woman I worked with on the first version of the ring was so wrong. A grown person isn’t going to get tired of something s/he truly desires — what we get tired of is something we never wanted in the first place. That applies not just to rings, but to big things like careers and spouses. Think about it! How many unhappy people do you know who, for instance, went to law school because their parents expected it? Or married a person who “looked good on paper”? Years of misery can follow when you live your life to please others.

With this realization in mind, I didn’t try to discourage my gorgeous client Lori from getting her very nontraditional dream ring.

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Lori’s ring. Click for the full story.

It’s also why I tell women to let the men in their lives know if they don’t like an engagement ring. As I’ve said before, you wouldn’t let a man pick out an ugly wedding gown that you’re only going to wear once in your life — why should he hand you an ugly ring that you’re going to have to look at every day? There’s no need to be shy. Based on my years of observation (backed by years of observation of other people — mostly men — in my business), men and women think differently about rings. Women are sentimental, thinking, “But this is the ring he GAVE me so it MATTERS to him.” As for men, like I’ve said:

“The typical straight guy has no idea what to get you. He picks the safest option and hopes for the best. He’s not emotionally invested in the ring setting, only in your happiness. If you tell him that you don’t like the ring, he’ll be bummed that he guessed wrong, but ultimately relieved when you have something you love.”

You can wear a ring you hate for five, or 10, or 20 years and then come to me for an engagement-ring redesign, or you can steel yourself for a quick, awkward moment and have this all taken care of in a matter of days. Of course, if you send your man (or woman!) to me in the first place, I’ll make sure you get exactly what you want. After all, I know from personal experience how important it is. Holla at me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com to discuss all your engagement/wedding ring needs, from totally traditional to one-of-a-kind.

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12 Responses to “Throwback Thursday: My Original Engagement Ring”

  1. Louise says:

    She thought you “would be ultimately be uncomfortable being different”? Snort! Bwa ha ha ha HA HA HA!!!

    Now THAT’S funny!

  2. your ring and Lori’s (and Susan’s) are soooo magnificent. I wear a garnet in a plain silver setting and I’m not tired of it, but I would *not* mind one of these stunners.

  3. stacy says:

    Round #2 is monumentally better. There is nothing wrong with the first ring, but that’s not the way you’d want to describe an engagement ring :) If you can’t say, “It’s magnificent,” why would you want it?
    Follow your gut… lesson learned!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      So much peer pressure to do something that doesn’t stand out! Ugh! Can’t believe I gave into it.

  4. “What we get tired of is something we never wanted in the first place.” Wow, Wendy…I’ve honestly never given it much thought before, but this is so true!! We are each responsible for our own happiness; and doing something because someone else wants us to, rarely works out in the long run.
    P.S. Your redesigned engagement ring is definitely non-traditional, but I think it’s really beautiful (I’ve always loved a bezel setting, too!!)

  5. Anthony Roman says:

    Your rings look awesome! Rings now should have a statement of their own and be done, just like you said, one that you would love to see everyday. I design jewelry myself and the one main principle I carry is, listen to what the client wants and interpret it the way they see it, not what I see it. And it has been good.

  6. Mardel says:

    I love bezel settings, and got talked out of that with my original engagement ring as well. My sweetie got talked into the “standard” option, which I hated. But he learned with time and getting it reset, although years later was the best thing we ever did. I think an engagement ring or a wedding ring needs to be something you love wearing every day, that brings joy to your heart for its presence not just what it stands for.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Exactly — trying to talk yourself into something that meets other people’s expectations just doesn’t work in the long run!