Asdrubal luna / A beautiful, secluded proposal
Proposing to the person you hope to spend the rest of your life with is a momentous decision and also a very daunting task. To make it special, many are now looking to propose with a bespoke engagement ring. Choosing a bespoke design means that your engagement ring will be truly unique, and be personally linked to its wearer.
However, if you do not understand the process of creating a bespoke engagement ring, the whole idea can be rather confusing. To aid you in your quest to propose with a bespoke engagement ring, here is our guide to how a bespoke engagement ring is made, and some more general tips about using one for your special proposal.
Why you would want a bespoke engagement ring
Jake Pierrelee / a bespoke engagement ring, used for a proposal
Before diving into how you would go about creating a bespoke engagement ring, you need to work out why you want a bespoke engagement ring.
The first and most obvious reason you would choose to design a bespoke engagement ring is that you can’t find an “off the shelf” ring with the design that you like. If you have scoured for a ring that you like, and can’t find it, a bespoke engagement ring with a design that you choose is certainly the way to go.
Another reason why you might want a bespoke engagement ring is that you have an unusual shape ring in mind, or already have a larger stone or non-standard size stone as a family heirloom for example that you want fitted into a ring.
Finally, bespoke engagement rings are a good way of emulating a particular ring design that you like, but from a designer you can’t afford.
A bespoke engagement ring provides you with an endless number of ways to personalise an engagement ring, with your own design being brought to life.
Choosing a centre stone
One of the major first steps in creating the bespoke engagement ring you want to propose with, is choosing the centre stone that you want. The centre stone is the thing your eye is most often drawn to, and can often be the largest part of the ring. This means that your choice on gemstone is certainly a crucial part of the process.
Some people will choose their gemstone first and then design their ring around it, whereas others have a ring design in mind and then pick a gemstone to cap things off.
Either way, the centre stone being chosen is always a significant step in creating an engagement ring; and choosing the “perfect stone” for your partner is an incredibly rewarding part of the journey.
We will talk later about all sorts of engagement ring styles, but your choice of gemstone is especially pertinent if you are going to choose a solitaire engagement ring. A solitaire engagement ring is where the ring simply contains one diamond. In this case, the gemstone is certainly the star of the show, so choosing the stone you want and one of good quality is especially important.
Whilst certifications and various claims about a gemstone's quality are important, more important is that you like how the stone looks. Once the diamond or gemstone is set in your engagement ring, you and your potential spouse probably won’t look at any piece of paper that declares your gemstones hardness or cut quality.
London DE has a large selection of brilliant diamonds and vivid gemstones that you can pick from and choose to place at the centre of your engagement ring.
Deciding upon a design
Tanya Trukyr / designing a bespoke engagement ring
Translating a client's ideas into a ring is our part of the process, but the first stage is always you deciding upon what design you want for your bespoke engagement ring. When you are planning your proposal, you obviously really want your partner to love your ring. To make sure that is the case, you need to make sure that you have explored your partner’s preferences for jewellery and even directly talked about her engagement ring preferences.
A good way to go about planning your design is to call in some help from those that know her well. Get some advice from one of her friends, a sister or her mother about what she would like and the style of jewellery she had in mind for her engagement ring. Just make sure that when you select these people to offer you advice or even consult on the design of the ring, make sure that they won’t tell your secret to the person you are proposing to!
How we design a bespoke engagement ring
Jacob Rank / a dainty, bespoke engagement ring
The process of designing a bespoke engagement ring always begins with a personal consultation with Tobias and our other jewellery designers.
At London DE we offer a free, no-obligation appointment where you can discuss creating any sort of bespoke jewellery you wanted to with our expert team; in this case you would be having a consultation over the prospect of creating a bespoke engagement ring for you. This consultation can either be conducted in-person at our Hatton Garden Studio, or if you live further afield you can choose to book a virtual appointment that will be held over zoom; whichever you as the customer prefer.
Once you have taken an initial consultation and committed to the process, you will begin to have regular consultation sessions where you design the engagement ring. Our staff; who have earned a 5-star rating from the most trusted jewellery institutions, and unrivalled expertise in crafting responsibly sourced and beautifully crafted jewellery; will ask you various questions to help them start designing your bespoke engagement ring. They will ask you for ideas, direct sources of inspiration, preferences that you have worked out and the story you want to tell with your ring. Using all this inspiration, the team will iterate upon your design, consulting you regularly until you come to a design that you agree upon with our artists.
How we bring your bespoke engagement ring to life
Once this bespoke design has been finalised, we will create a CAD image (Computer Aided Design) of your bespoke engagement ring and send it to you via email. This will allow you to visualise what your ring would look like in 3D, rather than what your design looks like on a piece of paper. Along with the design, you will be provided with gemstone options and a no-obligation full price estimate of how much your ring will cost (this depends on your design decisions, but we provide an estimate for how much a bespoke engagement ring later in this article).
If you agree to the Computer Aided Design, have locked in your gemstone choices and agreed to the quoted price; London DE and its stable of impressive jewellery makers begin the process of creating the ring fitting and preparing the gemstone to be added to the ring. When the ring is completed, and all the steps have been taken to protect the ring from wear and tear; we will then inform you that your bespoke engagement ring is ready for you.
Engagement ring styles you can choose from
Eleni Trapp / A beautiful solitaire engagement ring
Now that you know how a bespoke engagement ring is made, it is now time for your mind to run wild with design ideas. A major part of designing your engagement ring is working out what style you want to choose. However, unless you have studied jewellery or have done lots of research, there is a good chance that you know very little about what the names of all the engagement ring styles actually denote.
If you don’t know what style of engagement ring you would like, a good place to start is by considering the most popular and classical engagement ring categories.
The Solitaire style engagement ring
Arguably the most popular engagement ring style over the 20th and 21st century. A solitaire engagement ring is simply a ring that has one single gemstone, usually a diamond. It could also be a ruby or a sapphire, which are both hard stones. You can also get solitaire engagement rings made from softer stones like emerald, and put it in a setting that partially protects the stone.
A solitaire ring can be any shape, style, or setting; the main thing is that there is only one stone on the ring.
The Halo style engagement ring
Sabrianna / A halo style, pear cut engagement ring
Whilst the word halo in the 21st century may be associated with a chart-topping Beyonce power ballad, a popular science fiction video game; the Halo style engagement ring takes its inspiration from the band of light that supposedly surrounds the head of a saint or angel.
The classification describes a ring that has one main stone and a set of smaller stones surrounding it. The main stone could be any shape or size, and you can even have multiple halos on a single engagement ring.
The Oval style engagement ring
Oval engagement rings are pretty self-explanatory. They are engagement rings with an oval cut centre stone. The oval can be set in different ways, sideways if you have shorter fingers or vertically for longer hands. These types of engagement rings work really well when made with a bold choice of gemstone, like the fancy yellow diamond below.
How much does a bespoke engagement ring cost
Wendy Winarno / engagement rings are a premium purchase
An engagement ring and its cost is a contentious topic. In the UK, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2022 is around £2100 (before inflation); and here at London DE we have a range of engagement rings starting at £1000 up to £12,000, allowing you to find the ring for you at any price point.
The cost for designing and then getting a bespoke engagement ring made for you begins at a minimal cost of £2,495; but your final price can obviously rise depending on the gemstones that you choose for your ring and how intricate your design is.
How to make your bespoke engagement ring special without breaking the bank
Felipe Salgado / Personalised engagement rings, with engravings on their inside
If you are looking at a bespoke engagement ring and want to make it special whilst sticking to your budget, there are ways to create a unique ring without overstretching yourself.
One major way to make the ring special is to prioritise personal touches over the size of your gemstone or how exquisite the band is. For example, engraving some special words into your engagement ring is a great way for your partner to feel like they have been given a ring that only they can truly appreciate. A ring that represents your journey as a couple in a more explicit way should be more special than an off the shelf ring with a slightly bigger diamond. The little touches mean a lot in these items of jewellery.
Another way you can make a ring unique is by asking whichever jeweller you approach to use existing components from jewellery, family heirlooms or items you already own. If there is an existing cut gemstone within your family, and you would like to create a new ring shank for it; that cuts the cost of the engagement ring by quite a bit (with the gemstone being a crucial part of any engagement ring). Or there are some people who come to us with metal they want incorporated into the setting that the gemstone will rest in, that metal can be recycled, and this will be offset against the costs of the new ring.
Finally, make sure to consider coloured gemstones other than diamonds for the centre stone of your bespoke engagement ring. Your engagement ring should be a symbol of your connection with the person you are proposing to and is a representation of the relationship you have had with them. It should be a piece of jewellery that both you and your partner treasure and can enjoy for the rest of your lives together. This means that rather than choosing a traditional diamond as a centre stone for your engagement ring because you “have to”, choose the centre stone that speaks to you and your partner.
If you are desperate to incorporate diamonds into your engagement ring, you can always ask for some diamond accents in your design or go for a coloured gemstone ring with a diamond halo; whilst still having more of your budget left over to cover the cost of the bespoke process. The Knot, a premier wedding and engagement planning service, has calculated that the average ruby engagement ring costs between £2,000 to £9,000 per carat, in comparison to a diamond engagement ring that on average costs between £9,000 to £13,000 per carat. This is a sizable difference.
A different approach to proposing and designing a bespoke engagement ring
Ömer Karakus / A surprise proposal with a temporary ring
On a slightly different note, whilst this whole piece has been about proposing with a bespoke engagement ring and the process of coming up with a design that your partner will hopefully love, there is another way of doing things.
If you are worried about getting the engagement ring design wrong, or are not confident that you properly understand your partner's taste in rings; you could propose with a temporary ring. Whether this is a piece of costume jewellery, or a Haribo ring like people have done in their adverts; or with a piece of special jewellery from her family; once you have done the proposal and your partner has then said yes, you can then embark on a journey together to design your engagement ring.
This way, whilst the surprise around your engagement ring isn’t there, the time you spend designing the ring together is something very romantic and can be a just as memorable experience as a surprise proposal.