When it came time for me to drop hints to my boyfriend, I really wanted to look around at rings and see what I would love to wear for the rest of my life. I wanted my ring to be the ONE. I am a very picky person and if one thing isn't just right, it will irritate me. I've done my share of looking around and I decided that I wanted a heart-shaped ring. But the ones that I saw did not look the way I wanted them to. Some hearts were boxy, some blended into the ring, some looked like tear drops. I wanted mine to be designed successfully.
I asked my husband (then boyfriend) about the situation and told him that I would love to design my ring, depending on cost. So he gave me the go-ahead to do all the research I wanted and to find out how we could make this work. I will take you step-by-step in the process to help you or your loved one narrow down their decisions and make that dream ring come to life. ((( This is something that I dream of doing as a profession. I want to create proposals and design rings/jewelry...and when I saw that the 3D printer was in this contest...I had to enter. If I had a 3D printer, I would be able to physically print the ring designs that go into casting to become gold. That is HUGE happiness. :D )))
Anyways, we need to move onto your dream ring, right? Right! :) Whether you make it for a right-hand ring or for engagement and marriage, I'm sure this will help you out.
Step 1: Choosing Your Stone
I would have to say that this is the first step in the process because the stone is what shapes your ring.
Let's talk about basics. Gems are rated on Moh's Hardness Scale, basically, just a scale to tell you how strong your stone will be in terms of resistance to scratching or cracking, chipping, etc. In my experience, you want to stay in the 8-10 range. An example of an 8 graded stone is a topaz, and 10 would be diamond. We all know how expensive diamonds are, and we think of them being so expensive because of DeBeer's marketing. Part of my belief in diamonds is the fact that they are a ten on the hardness scale, that makes it "forever" to me. That still doesn't justify the diamond companies to control their output and value.
But...you can always take it down a notch. Do you want a diamond substitute or do you want your own stone that is beautiful in itself, no matter what it is called? You can choose the stone by color or by its reaction to light/how it behaves, or maybe you want something that is more dense...it's all up to you. Just stay within that range of 8+ through 10 on the hardness scale.
What I chose - Originally, I wanted a pink diamond. But that's a laugh because they are verrrry expensive. When you get into colored diamonds, they are called "fancy" when they naturally occur in nature. Their color is so brilliant when they are set in jewelry because they are probably enhanced. Some stones get heat treatment to enhance their color and some are colored enough to need non-cosmetic enhancement. What I mean is this - if you find photos of expensive rings that have fancy diamonds, they sometimes have an open cup, set under the stone, in gold. This cup reflects the light and gives color to the bottom of the stone so that the color seems deeper. *Ahhh, tricks!* ;)
I went with Morganite, which is like a pink ruby. It's rated 7.5-8 on the hardness scale. It was a risk to go with this stone because we weren't sure how it would hold up. The awesome jeweler said that it would be fine. No guarantees, but it would be fine during the crafting of my ring. Looking back at this decision...wow, awesome choice. I just wish it were a little harder because I have microscopic chips in the table (top flat surface) of my stone. Maybe I knocked it on a wall, or something metal...but it is noticeable to me because I focus on the tiniest details.
Again, stay with 8-10. :)
Now, what is an 8-10 gemstone? Technically, you're looking for corundum. It's graded at 9, it happens to be twice as hard as topaz, which is an 8. This is a great range for a center stone if you aren't going for diamond. I found this link that will give you an over-view of some stones and their ratings. http://bit.ly/jzPVW7
Suggestions: Sapphire (9), Ruby (9), Emerald, Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Balas Ruby, Cat's Eye, Chrysoberyl, Gahnospinel, Goshenite, Heliodor, Morganite.
Step 2: Where to Get the Stone?
Once you've chosen your stone color or type, you will need to locate it. You can do this online, some sites provide videos of their stones so that you can see what they look like from all angles and some, just have detailed photos. You want to keep in mind that the size or diameter of the stone will grow once it has been set in gold, and framed. So try and keep your eye on the size that you're looking for. My Morganite was chosen by my Gemology teacher! Isn't that cool? I had contacted him and asked if he had any, and he didn't. So he went to the Las Vegas Gem Show and he was able to find the best Morganite that he had even seen, he knew it was perfect for my wedding ring. I am in southern California, so I am lucky to have access to the Los Angeles Jewelry District. I hope that you have something like that, around where you live. If you take a stroll there, not in a hurry, and you browse through the available stones and take a look at pricing, you will remember it and be amazed.
If you find the perfect stone, but not the cut...you may be in luck if you find a lapidary who can cut the stone to the shape and size that you need. In my case, my heart shape came from a trillion!! :) It was simple enough for the stone to be shaped into a heart by cutting grooves in one of the flat sides of my triangular cut stone. The guy that I went with was so good at cutting the stone that my jeweler said that he made the stone look better than it did before. If you're near the LA Jewelry District, you need to check out a company called Pentagon Gem Cutters. ---> http://bit.ly/ky57l5
Rundown - you need to have chosen the stone that will be perfect for your ring. Attain the stone by going to jewelers or gem shows or looking around online. All stones are different! Once you have your stone in your preferred shape, you can take it to the jeweler to work with it. If you don't have it cut to size, or shape, you need to find a lapidary who can do this for you. Please keep in mind that some stones can't be shaped to your desired shape. You have to have a good starting point, to make things possible. It's not clay. :)
I promise you, during this step, if you have the stone, and the stone cut...you will think to yourself..."This will never look like this again. This is going to be set into a ring. This is the only time that I can hold my stone, I molded this, I designed this stone, this is for me." And you will feel fulfillment and excitement because of the process that you're creating your ring through. It's amazing.
Step 3: Choosing the Metal
Okay, you have your stone and now you need to know what metal to choose. I went with rose gold because it reaallllly compliments the color of Morganite. If you know what stone you want or have, and you want to see what the colors look like together...chances are, you can find it online. Just do a search for your chosen stone and your chosen metal. White gold, platinum, yellow gold, rose gold? It's all up to you. You want to make sure that you get something with a good gold content. Stay with 14-18 karat gold. If you go higher in number, the gold is softer and it can be dinged up easily. My ring is 18k and I've had no problems with it. It's fabulous! ;)
Step 4: Choosing a Jeweler
Before I set out (on foot) through the jewelry district, I had done some research and written down many names of shops and addresses to find the perfect jeweler who could put it all together for me. I had ideas, options, a budget, etc. I wanted to find someone who was nice, would work with me, be able to do a custom design, and work with the budget. I went to ten different shops and met so many people. Some shops would give strange looks and just stare at you, not help, etc. That's how I knew to rule them out.
I saved the best-rated for last. I found Oscar. He is a sweet man in the jewelry district who loved the fact that I was doing all of this on my own. I had done my research, I had explored everything and he said he would help me out. He wanted to make sure that my research was rewarded with a beautiful ring. And that, he did. Haha. If you want to check him out, if you're in this area, I highly recommend him. ----> http://www.oscaring.com/
Just make sure, with your choice, that you have someone patient. Someone who will listen to you, someone who wants to work with you, give you the best outcome and show you their craftsmanship and quality. That's the one for you. :)
Step 5: Complimentary Stones?
If you're the type who wants something that is over the top, or with accompanying stones, maybe you want to go with colors that will look good with your center stone. I wanted to go with some tradition and get some bling in my ring, so I surrounded it with small diamonds. It's a great option, and with diamonds at that size, it's pretty affordable. Some other options may be white sapphires or cz, even. It's up to you. It can stand alone or you can even get the band engraved to add to the visual appeal of your ring. When you're the designer, and you keep to a budget, you can get creative and piece it together the way you want to.
Step 6: Settings!
Settings are a very important step in the process. Aside from the stone, it's the second most-payed attention to thing about your ring. For myself...I am one for a fancy gallery (the area below the stone). The gallery of the ring can be super simple and just hold your stone, or it can be intricate and have scrolls and hearts or whatever you want, practically.
I'm sure, though, if you want to design your own setting with a fancy gallery, you may be getting the price up there because some of that stuff has to be hand-carved. Just keep that in mind. One tip is to take a look at your jeweler's work, you can choose one of the settings that have already been done, and they can fit it for your stone. That's how I did mine. We changed the gold and had it hold my heart-shaped Morganite.
Another tip - if you like a ring that has lots of diamonds in the band, or so on...you can replace that with hand engraving and it will give dimension to the band. It will also reflect more light than a straight/solid gold band. In some cases, it may be more affordable than having lots of diamonds in their place. On the other hand...you can have the ring engraved, get the ring for engagement and then you can have those diamonds put in after the wedding. That's what we were going to do. But I ended up falling in love with the way my ring looks now.
Keep in mind, you have control of how your stone is set. I chose the bezel setting, so that it showed the shape of the heart by framing it. I wanted the milligrain around the edges to have those cute dots. Etc. :) Just think about it!
Step 7: Finalizing
Now, you, the guy, or you, the girl can gather up your research, print everything out and take it to your jeweler because you know EXACTLY what you want. Talk to him or her about it, make some sacrifices if needed, for the cost of the ring, or just go all out, because you're already SAVING money, by not purchasing an ugly and flawed diamond in the mall. Seriously, those things have major black inclusions and they sell them as if they were pure. Insane!
What I did...I went with my husband to talk about the options for the ring and left the final decisions up to him. I left the room and let the guys talk it out. I didn't want to know the final steps and he knew what I had desired. It was fun, knowing that my ring was going to be put into action, as I waited in the hallway. He came out with the recpiet from the deposit and it was all in effect. He had measurements, sizes, shapes, engraving style...etc.
I didn't know what my ring would look like until I was proposed to. Which he was going to do on his own, when he wanted to. :) I was able to design it and he was able to take it from there and surprise me. I was super-swept away when he proposed to me on a bridge in a park and he pulled out my dazzling heart ring for the first time. It was a double-wow. I will never forget it. And I will never forget my appreciation for the process and the fruits of my labor and research. This is one way to really work for something. If you're given a ring, the story stops there. But if you design it...you're the mother and/or father of that ring and it's meaning to you as a couple. Truly rewarding!
Step 8: Optional Steps!
You can propose back to your partner. This was a must for me. I found the perfect ring for him and proposed through his favorite video game with much help from the gaming community. Another thing that I will never forget and never stop appreciating. :) If you do a search on Fallout 3 Proposal, you'll probably find my story. :)
Another option is to take your own photos of the rings together in a park, like we did, along with our engagement photos. Super fun and affordable. Some of my favorite pics of us. :)
Thanks for checking out my IN-DEPTH instructable! I hope you leave feedback for me and let me know how you did yours, or if I have helped you in any way. I love to help. <3