Ring Leaders: Designers, Antique Dealers and Retailers talk about the rings the bejewel their own fingers

More than any other category of jewelry, rings act as visual celebrations of the most memorable moments and emotional connections in a woman’s life, They can be worn stacked or singular and statement making, or in mixed metals and themes. Due to the popularity of all types and time periods, we continue our series entitled Ringing in The New Year, which will run through the beginning of 2017.

Here we give a snapshot of designers, antique dealers and retailers favorite rings or those or they wear everyday and why. Some are gifts, other they designed for themselves or found while scouring fairs and markets throughout the US and Europe. Whether the ring leaders we interviewed are stackers or statement-makers, prefer antique to modern or mix up styles, gemstones and metal—all love to bejewel their fingers to reflect their personal stories and individual sense of style.

Elizabeth Doyle/ DOYLE & DOYLE

“These are my go-to everyday rings.  Ruby is my favorite stone, which you can probably tell from the photo. The first ring I acquired out of this group is on my index finger.  When we opened our Doyle & Doyle boutique it was on display for sale. The rubies are all perfectly matched Burmese unheated rubies.  The central stone has the beautiful iridescent rutile.  One day someone came in who fully appreciated the ring and I had a panic attack that it would be gone from me forever.  I called up my sister and she said quite calmly and rationally “take it out of the case it is yours”.  I have worn it almost every day for 16 years. My husband picked out my engagement ring for me. It was really important to me that he pick the ring.  If I had shopped for my own ring too much “business” would have crept into the process.  I didn’t want it to be about price, or color or clarity.  I wanted a thing of beauty that represented our commitment to a life together- which it is. The Georgian rubies on my ring finger are perfectly matched in color but are terribly worn.  That would bother some people, but I love it. Seeing the wear of hundreds of years of love and life on the stones make the ring so much more enchanting and alive to me. And, for an extra bit of magic, the underside of the ring is beautifully hand engraved.  It is a special detail just for the wearer of the ring. “


‘My favorite ring is the very first one that I designed and made for our Lustre collection, a 2-carat raw champagne diamond flanked on either side by clusters of rose cut grey diamonds. Raw diamonds represent my heart’s desire-they recall nature in its purest form. This particular design has been in production for almost seven years now, though each is still completely unique. Each raw diamond crystal is different to any other and each ring is constructed by hand around the diamonds. It still represents the start of something new since it was created right at the beginning of my journey into the realm of designing alternative fine jewelry. I sometimes wear is by itself, allowing it to glow from within in all its natural glory, and at other times I wear it stacked between a turquoise eternity band and a plain textured gold band for a bit of contrast.”


Laurel Stearns/ PASS IT ON

My relationship with rings has been strong since I was a child. They are my number one choice in jewelry when it comes to a purchase. You can visibly admire the rings all day long while you’re typing on your computer or sitting with a cup of tea/wine. The type of rings I gravitate to are antique or period rings and usually evoke a conversation that asks who-what-where-why? Who might of owned it before? What time frame was it from? Where was it made? What is the symbolism behind it?  I tend to wear many rings at once— on almost every finger. My go-to favorites are an early masquerade ring , a whimsical agate monkey with old cut diamonds, rubies and sapphires, a Georgian coral plaque of a hunting hound, a Victorian crowned bow topped heart and early delicate half hoops bands eternity which are great for stacking. I prefer old cuts of stones due to their personality and character, and always rings with a strong message, meaning and intention. I can comfortably say I will spare no expense on antique and period rings like these.

Karen Karch/ KAREN KARCH

“I wear my engagement and wedding stacks on my left hand and then stacks of different rings everyday on right, depending on my mood and my clothing choices. I can do a whole tiara story or mixed up pieces from different collections. But those I am most drawn to for the past few months are my thumb rings. I like to cover my thumbs with larger, more ornate rings than I the more delicate designs I wear on my other fingers). When I am wearing big thumb rings, I feel a little more powerful and protected, as if they are my daily armor. I love the urban warrior princess vibe these jewels exude.”





“These are my two favorite rings.  I now only wear them together as shown.  The snake has good detail and texture, and the flat cut garnet is set in the most beautiful 22K gold, but the two together are more than the sum of their parts.  I like a lot of gold and good finger coverage, and I just love the way the 1980’s snake ring and the Victorian garnet together have a very modern statement look. Both of these rings I bought in England very early on in my collecting and it feels as if I have had them forever. Each of them are keepers, although I have been know to sell others in my antique online shop. These I have never even thought of parting with and stacked together this way, I will never outgrow them.”



I originally wore a different wedding ring when I first got married in 1999. But after launching our collection 2005, I was craving colored rose-cut diamonds and a stack of rings for my wedding finger. At that time, it wasn’t as easy as it is now to get colored rose cut diamonds, not to mention vivid reds, orange and blues. But we had just started working with vitreous glass enameling and we began experimenting with coloring the diamonds from beneath. We then layered silver foil and enameled again over the foil to pop the color. And, so, I got my wish! Not only one, but three 18K gold chunky modern half hoop style rings in shades of vibrant red, light peacock blue and intense peach. I always wear the three together and only take them off to wash my hands. We continue to offer these rings as custom orders today and will try to match the colors of client’s dreams.”



I wear my rings every day, and lots of them. I wear them when I work, when I swim in the ocean (which I also do during winter—in Denmark), when I travel (even when my fingers swell) and I never take them off unless a client wants to buy them. I have sold some of my favorites and for a while I got very sad when I would part with one. But I learned to never let myself get too attached. All of my rings are handcrafted. I only use 18K gold and almost all of them has either a rough diamond, or an old mine-cut diamond. This allows all of the rings on my collection to be different even if the style is similar— I never want any two to be the exact same. Many of my rings have small critters from curious snails to the smallest ladybugs. I am very inspired by the flowers in my garden, were I spend every minute when I am not at my workbench and where I still wear my rings even when planting new bulbs.   I wear rings stacked on the bottom of my fingers and also as midi styles and they never fall off. At present, my favorite is the midnight blue rough diamond I wear on my right hand—the diamond is one of the most exquisite roughs I have found. And, yes, I am secretly hoping that no one wants to buy it as it’s one that I want to keep for as long as possible in my own ring wardrobe.”



The upper ring on my ring finger belonged to my Great Aunt Enie. It is from the 1940s and I think quite unfortunate looking- which makes me love it even more! She left it to me when I was a baby and I have worn if ever since it was given to me by my parents when I was a teenager. The lower ring on my ring finger belonged to my grandmother. She was the first woman in her family to go to college graduating from the University of Kansas in 1946. Her father gave her this ring to congratulate her on this huge success. When I graduated from Sewanee in 2009 she gave it to me. The ring on my middle finger is my favorite! When my mother was young, their house was robbed, including all of my grandmother’s jewelry. My grandmother had owned a similarly designed sapphire and diamond ring that was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It broke our  hearts when it was taken. My father bought this for my mother when he stumbled upon it in a jewelry store and immediately saw how closely it resembled the original ring. My pointer finger has a ring stack. The gold band was my mother’s wedding band when she was pregnant with me and her fingers were too swollen for her regular band. It is engraved with my birth year. The middle, the diamond and sapphire anniversary band, was another gift from my father to my mother. The top silver band was given to me by a friend when I graduated high school.  I wear these all the time including sleeping and showering. They are the most dear jewelry items I own.”


My own engagement ring is a small, pear-shaped rose cut diamond with an inclusion running right up the center, set in 22K yellow gold. By many people’s standards it’s pretty small, and sometimes I’m asked if I’m thinking of “upgrading”, and the answer is no. Our lives have changed immeasurably since I was given my engagement ring. At the time we were unbearably broke, and I found out later that the only way, John, my now-husband, could afford it was to put it on an eight-month layaway, scraping enough together each month to cover the minimum payment. Since then, we have come on such a journey together, and this ring symbolizes where it all began. After we got engaged, I was certain that I wanted to make my own wedding ring. It’s a very simple, plain band, with a hand-carved organic texture in 22K yellow gold. It originally had a hammered texture to match my engagement ring, both of which have pretty much worn off, 22K gold being as soft as it is! Chances are that if I live long enough, both rings will wear down so much they will end up falling off my fingers. But I love the thought of this. It’s like a metaphor for going though all the phases of life.”


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