Otherwise Engaged: For women designers, committing to one man might just be easier than to one ring
While interviewing women designers who create bridal collections, I’ve heard various stories about the engagement rings they wear themselves. Quite a few of the designers I’ve met admitted that although they commit to one guy, the idea of spending the rest of their life with one ring seems, well, impossible. Others told me they added to original heirlooms handed down from their grandmothers and mothers, creating stacks of rings. And still others, such as Jamie Joseph, confided, “The one piece of jewelry I never take off is my engagement ring – that is, until I make the next one. I have a tradition in which I make a new one every year since I have been designing.” That’s a lot of rings and, from my point of view, a lot of fun.
Jamie adds that while she might get bored with the rings, she still gets a twinkle in her eye whenever Jeremy, her husband, walks into a room. “I could never get bored of him,” she smiles.
I asked seven designers “if you had the chance to choose any engagement ring, which you haven’t designed yourself or which hasn’t been passed down from a family member, what would it be?”
A few were completely sentimental while also quite savvy, they rephrased my question to “If you didn’t wear the ring you had now, what would you choose?” Others were completely open to trying out new rings on their fingers while holding onto their men.
“If I hadn’t made my wedding bands and rings, I would have looked for a 17th or 18th century posy ring like the one shown here and sold at Berganza. I love the idea of wearing a piece that has been worn for centuries, collecting energy and life along the way. The worn quality is something that is very hard to re-create in a new ring- only over time does the patina and softening happen.”
My current stack is a mix of the one matching band I designed for my husband Costas and myself. We have added to that over the years, and as of now we are up to four rings each. I also wear a diamond band and “borrow” engagement rings from my collection to add to the stack for fun. The top ring I am wearing now is our Lux ring with a beautiful Paraiba cabochon.”
“If were to choose a new engagement ring from another artist, I think I would actually go for an all-in-one band. I wear my slender simple wedding band every day and only slip on my engagement ring for more dressed up occasions. Yasuko Azuma’s classic pierced leaf band would be a dream band upgrade. It’s of medium width and flat, which allows it to be comfortable for daily wear. But yet it is elegant, detailed and studded with the subdued sparkle of rose-cut diamonds and delicate little peek-a-boo botanical cutouts. It only adds to the charm of the piece. It also doesn’t hurt that the team behind the brand, Yasuko and her husband, Richard, are two of the loveliest people I know.
I generally wear the engagement ring that belonged to my great-grandmother, whom I called Granny and with whom I had an extremely close relationship into my late teens. My husband and I planned to elope, but weeks before we did, I asked my parents to join us. My dad gave me a card from his mother (my paternal grandmother), who had tucked in Granny’s wedding band as a surprise. So now I stack both her white gold engagement ring and her wedding band with the yellow gold band that my husband made for me and one of our collection’s Ribbed Scallop Bands. I wouldn’t give any of these up—just maybe rotate Yasuko’s ring in on days when I want just one comfortable ring that sparkles with quiet character.”
“If I were to change up my engagement ring, I would go with Sarah Graham’s Pebble diamond ring in oxidized cobalt chrome (with a 1.25-1.5ct diamond). I’ve always been a huge fan of Sarah’s work, especially her oxidized pieces. I love the organic quality and the depth and richness of the black. It definitely represents my personal style and would work with any piece of jewelry from my own collection
The ring I am wearing in the photo is my engagement/wedding stack, which is built around a 2.4ct Old European Cut diamond. It’s one of those rare stones that has a documented (and interesting) history to it, which makes it all the more special to me. My wedding bands (a pave´ eternity and a “V-band”) were chosen to add just a tiny bit more sparkle!). In reading about the previous diamond owner’s life, it’s hard to imagine how she found time and energy to accomplish so much, such as supporting various arts, being an avid traveler and lover of history. She pursued many of her passions and that acts as a little reminder to fully live one’s life. I would of course never give this ring up—but I could definitely get passionate owning and trading off with Sarah’s as a second engagement ring.”
“I would definitely choose this ring from Polly Wales. I fell for it the minute I saw it. I love Polly’s work in general but there is something medieval about this ring, tough yet tender. I am so taken by the size and shape of this ring. The silhouette flares to accommodate knuckles and the tapered baguettes just have me lusting after it. It is just a unique ring that I’ve never seen before, which offers a whole new look and take on bridal.
As was discussed in the introduction of this story, I have a tradition of crafting a new engagement ring every year. We launched a full-fledged bridal collection last year. Those that I design for myself I keep and they are usually quite different than those I include in the collection. I wear rings all throughout the year depending on my mood and the event. However, my absolute favorite ring is the one that I got married in. It’s a simple white and yellow gold band that my husband Jeremy and I designed and made together. So Polly’s ring would have to stack with this one.”
“My dream engagement ring is from the Edwardian era with floral patterns in ornate platinum filigree atop a yellow gold band. I love the feminine themes explored in Edwardian jewelry, lace, bow and garland motifs and the light and airy nature of the designs.
I try to capture that in my own work. And although I am not married yet, I do wear one of my gold rings that goes from east to west. That is one aspect I do like better about designing new rings. I prefer those that sit horizontally on the finger and take up the whole width. I don’t have to concern myself with trading up yet because I have yet to find the guy with whom I am spending the rest of my life. So I can ‘date’ as many rings as I want without ever feeling guilty.”
‘I’m not married, and not likely to be. I do have a life partner, James, and we used to live in London, not too far from Cheapside, where this ring and a load of jewelry that one usually fantasizes about was unearthed during the excavation of a cellar. I’m not a fan of solitaire rings per se, but love the enamel work and setting of this unusual gorgeous table-cut stone. It’s not likely to be mine under any circumstances since it now resides in The Museum of London. I can’t even try it on. But a girl can dream, can’t she? And this is what I would want to awaken to on my finger.
Usually I just mix up and pile on different rings that I make to give them a test run before they go on to their new homes with my customers. I do have some in my own collection. And many of those that I wear are the ones James loves best.”
“It was nearly 20 years ago when I first saw her jewelry. It was during a time when there were very few fine jewelry designers who hand made their pieces. I noticed a small collection of jewelry that looked very distinctive from others. It was Marian Maurer’s line. Since then she is one of my favorite designers.
I love this ‘Sia’ ring because it does have a lot of volume yet offers so delicate an atmosphere with a little bit of sparkle. It is so different from my work and I love it.
As for my own rings, I have traded off over time. Right now I am wearing a pear shape old cut diamond in yellow gold with a textured wedding band next to it. I do like layering but from time to time, I like to keep it really simple and wear them on separate fingers.”