We asked two jewelers who specialize in custom rings—Nicole Wegman, founder of Ring Concierge, and jewelry designer Maggi Simpkins—how to create a custom diamond engagement ring that reflects your style and love story. Turns out, it’s easier than you’d think.
1. Find the diamond engagement ring designer or jeweler that speaks to your style.
When you are creating a custom ring, you need to work with a designer or jeweler whose style and quality you admire. “You might pick the best diamond, but if it’s in a poor-quality setting then you won’t be happy,” says Wegman, whose clients often discover her designs and bespoke services via her popular Instagram account.
2. Establish a budget and prioritize what matters most to you.
Designing your own ring isn’t necessarily more or less expensive than buying a ring out-front, but determining a budget up-front makes it easier to identify a range of diamond options. When it comes to pricing, “Most people have to compromise on something to stay within their budget,” says Wegman. “So it’s best to know in advance what matters most to you, whether it be a larger stone, a diamond of the highest possible quality or a setting with side stones.”
Once a budget is established, Wegman sources a range of diamonds to present to clients for comparison and consideration. While each diamond should have a GIA certificate that incorporates the 4 Cs to identify the stone’s quality, it’s important to remember that two stones with identical GIA grading reports can still appear very different.
Simpkins explains, “I urge my clients to pay more attention to the stone itself (the way it looks, how it makes them feel) rather than what’s on the paper.”
3. Bigger is (generally) better.
“The size of the diamond is the most important factor in designing a ring,” says Wegman. “The average consumer won’t notice tiny inclusions or a hint of warmth, but they will notice the size of the stone from near and far.”
For that reason, Simpkins steers her clients away from VVS stones saying: “I don’t believe in paying for something you can’t see. I am also not afraid of a little warmth in a stone. I don’t prescribe to the thought that only the whitest of diamonds are beautiful.”
4. Research ring styles and stick with what you love.
“Before you sit down with a designer, spend time researching for inspiration and trying on different rings to discover the styles you love, what you don’t like and what looks good on you,” advises Simpkins. Just continue to remind yourself not to be swayed by trends; celebrity engagement rings get a lot of attention, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you.
“Stick to your gut when selecting the ring,” says Wegman. “If you have always loved round diamonds, and then Hailey Bieber gets engaged with an oval and suddenly you like an oval, is it because you actually like that stone shape or are you being influenced by the trend?”
5. Choose a diamond engagement ring for your style—and lifestyle.
Once you have chosen the diamond, the right designer or jeweler will work with you to create a diamond engagement ring that suits your lifestyle. “Simple designs are the most popular right now,” says Wegman, whose bestselling ring is a solitaire on her Whisper Thin band. “Simple styles,” she explains, “ensure that the focus stays on the diamond.”
Also, women today want more durable ring styles that they can wear from the office to the gym. (As such, Wegman notes that micro pave settings are losing popularity.)
Your diamond engagement ring design should also match your individual style, be it modern or vintage. “At the very least make sure you are buying a diamond shape you will love forever,” says Wegman. “It’s pretty inexpensive to change a diamond setting after a few years, but it’s expensive to change the stone.”
Additionally, it’s important to consider your wedding band when selecting your ring style. Perhaps you’re envisioning an engagement ring that pairs with stackable wedding bands? More and more women are going in this direction because different stackable bands easily allows for the changing-up of a look based on time of day, attire or mood. Both Simpkins and Ring Concierge create custom wedding bands that can integrate with engagement rings.
6. Get creative: it’s all in the details
Different metal finishes, detailing, unique side stones and the personalization of a ring with engravings and other hidden elements is what really allows for a engagement ring design to stand apart. “I have the most fun when clients tell me stories about things that are significant to them and their relationship, and I am able to figure out how to incorporate them into the ring,” says Simpkins, who integrates symbols and characters, such as flowers, birthstones and spiritual motifs, on the insides of the rings she designs.
Simpkins always provides clients with sketches of their diamond engagement ring designs for approval, and then 3-D renderings are made before wax molds are carved for each design. Make sure you approve your ring every step of the way to ensure you are getting everything you want. And don’t be afraid to make modifications along the way (just make sure to do so before the wax mold is made).
7. Buy a diamond engagement ring without leaving home
Technology has made it much easier to create custom made rings by presenting diamonds, settings and styles in images and videos when you can’t meet directly with a jeweler, but nothing replaces the feeling of trying on a ring in person. That’s why Wegman launched Vow by RC, a Home Try-On Program that offers semi-custom diamond rings starting at $3,000. “It’s like the Warby Parker of diamonds,” says Wegman.
Clients can choose from nine diamond shapes and 13 ring styles, and the company will then create three sample rings made with cubic zirconia (CZ) stones so clients can try them on at home. Once a client places an order, the GIA certified diamond ring is made in New York and delivered within two to three weeks. With a little research and planning, you easily design the custom diamond ring of your dreams—the ring you that tells your unique story.