We are introducing a new series to the LITTLE BIRD blog. Enter: "My Engagement Ring Story" where some of our favorite engagement ring designers tell us how they imagined and then created their own engagement rings. Should be illuminating for those who are looking to create their own ideal engagement ring. Our first story comes from Brittany Stadtmiller about her engagement to Bobby. You guys. Brittany is the funniest. She runs the most attractive AND hilarious jewelry Instagram account I know of: @gemsteady. Not only did their engagement lead to MARRIAGE, but it also created the alternative fine jewelry company I've come love to hard: GEM STEADY. Enjoy!
THE TLDR (too long, didn't read) VERSION:
Nuff said. Let's get right down to our interview with Brittany about her engagement ring...
Tell us the stats!
I actually never had an engagement ring. My husband and I got married on a whim so it was straight to the wedding band which was a super fat sterling silver cigar band.
How did you come up with the concept?
We had just begun our adventure to start a jewelry business and I thought the idea of just one really sexy wide band would be timeless (and fairly simple to create for freshly self taught jeweler). Our story is probably best saved for another day/blog post, but I knew I never wanted to be engaged or ‘have a fiance’ so one big band is all I needed to seal the deal.
Did you work on it with your partner? How was that experience?
Our wedding bands were some of the first rings we ever created (my husband is the maker) and marks the beginning of both our personal and business life together. It is definitely a pretty straight forward design, but we did work together on figuring out the perfect width and sizing.
Did you always know what you wanted to design?
I had no idea. We literally decided to get married after only a matter of a few days spent together so I had never really even thought about what my ring would look like. It was spontaneous to say the least.
What’s your favorite detail or part of the ring?
My favorite part of the ring is the fact that it was one of the very first rings my husband ever made. He had never dabbled in jewelry before, so you can see the seams and imperfections of where the metal connects. I guess that is a pretty good metaphor for our relationship too :)
Did you go over budget?
Not even close.
If your ring was worn by a mythical character, who would that character be? Does it have a special power?
A super powerful sorceress. It would definitely absorb and emit healing powers and have the capability to manifest pretty much anything I ever wanted and deflect all bullshit.
Is there advice you usually give clients that you didn’t take yourself?
I always tell my clients that they should make a decision based on what makes them feel good even if that means getting something made by someone other than me. There is no right or wrong way to wear your jewels. They should go for something that will feel timeless to them.
Do you need an engagement ring? Well, do you? Must you have a ring to call yourself committed? Is there a right way to get engaged? I've been an expert for a decade, but when I went through it myself, man oh man, did I learn a lot about love, commitment and the meaning of rituals. So after years of hearing your stories, on my one year wedding anniversary (today is my anniversary) I'm sharing my engagement story! Spoiler alert: commitment is what you make of it. OK, I'll just get right down to it then...
Here is what I did to find the love of my life:
1. many many dates in San Francisco using online sites (ehm ehm OkCupid)
2. An evening in with a bottle of red wine and my good friends ADVANCED FILTERS. People, this is the only way. You have to manifest your fate. I even paid the extra $10 to unlock the "A-List" search filters (some of which were ridiculous):
this is what happened when we tried to get engaged:
It really was love at first site. The rest was history...
UNTIL it felt like it was time to get engaged. If you've been through it, you know. It's kind of *a thing*. Are we ready? Am I ready?? Are YOU ready??? You take many many long hard looks at your partner and yourself as you imagine making this kind of commitment. For us. Well. It took us some time...
AND THEN: one crisp and cold winter night at a cabin we rented off of HWY 1 on the Sonoma Coast of California, we were making dinner in our pajamas listening to makin_science's (aka Jordan's) Spotify Discover Weekly (his is oddly far better than mine which feels unfair because he doesn't even have it connected to a Facebook account as he refuses to have one). So, we are slow-dance/hug-swaying in the kitchen to something along the lines of Nick of Time by Bonnie Raitt and he takes the rubber band off the little bunch of rosemary and he loops it around my left ring finger. And that was it. The best ever. Ever. And, I mean, how can you pick out a ring for an Engagement Ring Consultant that's more perfect than a rubber band? Yes, the title is official and therefore capitalized. In any case, makin_science an I were gonna make_it_official.
IMMEDIATELY we (me) started making plans for how to use a three stone heirloom diamond ring from his mother and father so we could create two rings out of the stones - one for each of us. I was going to make a David Bowie space-inspired ring and he was going to make a Conan the Barbarian-inspired ring with a flush set a diamond in a big yellow gold band. My heart swelled. He even wanted a diamond in his ring. We was into this. You guys, we’re engaged!
WAIT. We are "engaged" though, right? Like, plans were in the works on our rings and I had a rubber band on my left ring finger. So it's official, right? Well, later makin_science informed me that we "still had things to do" before we were officially engaged. Dun dun dun. And here I thought I was the engagement ring expert...
TURNS OUT, he just wanted to have the rings on our hands. It mattered to him. This guy who mocked tradition. This guy who valued science and reason. Listen people the guy wanted rings on fingers dammit. Rings on fingers and then, and only then, is it official. So we had the David Bowie/Conan the Barbarian mash-up rings made by the best jeweler ever, Nick Engel. And when they were done, I couldn't wait to put my engagement ring on and then finally be "engaged" to makin_science aka Jordan. I never knew I actually cared this much. When we got the rings we both put them on immediately and never took them off. Jordan's "wedding band" was actually his "mangagement ring" till we got married and it was the sweetest thing ever. It felt like solidarity. It felt real.
what I learned about getting engaged:
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: We make it up as we go. For Jordan, rings meant something. For me, THE resident engagement ring lady, it actually didn't matter at all. I'd take the rubber band. There's no right way to do this life. No correct way to love. No proper way to show love. Us humans made this whole crazy courtship->ring->engaged->married thing up from the start. We did it for many different reasons, but that's Esther Perel's territory, not mine. It's up to us to decide what it all means for ourselves. Oh, and one more conclusion: if you need help with this whole crazy engagement ring stuff, I'm here to help you figure out what it means to you ;) ;)
First, what is a diamond solitaire? It can actually be confusing as this nomenclature is thrown around for rings that aren't actually solitaires. Hint: it doesn't have to do with the shape of the center stone....
A solitaire ring is when there is only one diamond in on the ring and that diamond is the main focal point of the ring. Solitaries do not have any other diamond accents on them, no diamond halo's, nothing - just one beautiful diamond! The name actually refers to the technical setting and can mean to any piece of jewelry with a solitaire setting - such a necklace, or earrings.
Solitaires are an extremely popular style these days and are known for showing off the classic elegance of beautiful diamond. But, be careful! The thing about a solitaire is that you simple must nail the design. As with all things simple, you need to refine, refine, refine. Think about the concept of "jeans and a shirt" - this simple layout can be super polished and date night ready or it might be what you wear to repaint your room that chic gray you've been pinning all week at work.
Any stylish low key dresser will tell you that you have to have a particular vision in mind in order to slay minimalism. Same deal with your fine jewelry, curation is crucial when designing the ideal solitaire diamond engagement ring.
How To Create Your Dream Solitaire Ring
Step 1 - The Center Diamond
Since the diamond is the centerpiece of the ring, it best to start with picking a stone shape that resonates best with you. The most popular shape you see in a solitaire setting is round but any stone shape can be in solitaire. Such as pear, heart, oval, emerald, Asscher, marquise, etc. Because the solitaire setting shows off the diamond as the main focal point, we would recommend you work with your jeweler to really find a stone you love.
Step 2 - The Prongs
The prongs are those claw like things that hold the stone in place. First and foremost, they must do their job holding the stone in place but after that is done they we can talk about the aesthetics of the prongs.
You have a few choices to make here: metal type, the number of prongs, shape of prongs and orientation of prongs.
1. The metal type could be the same as the band or you might switch it up and go for a mixed metal look. Imagine the combinations out there with rose gold, yellow gold, white gold and platinum all at your fingertips (see what we did there?!)
2. The number of prongs you choose will be based on many factors. In short, you can go with 4 or 6. There are some stones larger enough to accommodate 8 or even 12 - very Marie Antionette and we love this antique twist on a solitaire if your stone has the surface area to pull it off.
3. The shape of the prongs is really a place to get creative and personalized. The prongs can be rounded/"bead shaped", pointed/"claw prongs"/"talon prongs"/"pointed prongs" (all terms for the same thing), or paddle shaped prongs. Then once you pick a shape, you can add another dimension: you can have split prongs or single prongs - seriously the list is endless. You can find good examples of all of these prong shape options online, but most jewelers don't have examples of all the shapes in one store. This a great question to ask your jeweler about because the prongs can really add style and personality to a ring and an important for a solitaire setting.
4. The orientation of prongs is another thing to consider. The most common prong orientation for 4 prongs is to have them at the four corners of the stone, as if each was the corner of a square. You can switch this up by going for a "compass prong orientation" where you shift the prongs to sit at the North, East, South and West points of the stone. The 6 prong options are the opposite. The classic 6 prong has a prong on the North and South point of the diamond and the East and West are open. The alternative 6 prong option is to leave the North and South open, covering the East and West. This is a lot to visualize, but it's simple enough once you do a little visual research.
Pro tip: you might also consider a bezel or semi-bezel setting.
Step 3 - The Setting
Here we are referring to the band and the way in which the prongs connect to it. There are so many types of settings that we can't go into them all. But here are a few key questions to ponder when choosing the setting.
Is stacking with bands important to you? You may want to consider a cathedral setting that allows the diamond to be visible and stack with multiple rings. Do you have any antique stone that might be more fragile? You might want a bezel setting. Wear gloves every day? You might want a low profile setting with diamond set into the band.
Because the diamond is the focal point in a solitaire setting, the details are super important! Make you go over all of them with jeweler or reach out to u for a chat about what options might suite your personal style best!
This post is co-authored by Danielle of LITTLE BIRD and Catherine Cason of Gem Hunt
The national average for an engagement ring generally fluctuates between $3500-6000. It's our pleasure to bring you our curated collection of fave engagement rings under $3000 on Pinterest. There are absolutely stunning rings out there that don't require you to overspend. We are big fans of helping people stay within a super reasonable budget. All said and done, $3000 is still a lot of dough to throw at some rocks and metals. So you'll want to come out on the other side with a stunning, heirloom quality piece that is both stylish and unique.
The THREE pro tips for folks looking in the $3000 engagement ring budget range:
1. Look for antiques! Play up clusters, halos and unique styles....
There are some really amazing antique ring curators out there. I always find something amazing at Erica Weiner, Victor Barboné & Metier.
2. Check out artists on Etsy! There are some incredible designers showcasing their work here. You just have to sift a bit.
Don't be afraid of Etsy designers! Some of my fave indie designers list on Etsy. Check out Sharon Zimmerman, Melanie Casey & Kate Szabone.
3. Open your mind to something totally different!
Often times the bigger the budget, the more basic and well travelled the ring style. Open your mind to something unique. I mean. This ring. Can you believe it's under $3000? I know! You'll find treasures in many places, Jewels by Grace has a great eye...
If you need help understanding how to set your budget and what you can expect to find based on your desired price range, don't hesitate to reach out of a BIRD CALL. We will hook you up with all the salient deets you need to nail it.
Ah, rose cut diamonds! With a name like that what's not to love? We started a month long affair with rose cuts when we kicked off the Dream Diamond x Gem Hunt pop-up which features 10 rings made from rose cut diamonds.
Rose cuts are currently the Edison light bulb of the fine jewelry world. Soft, glowing, warm and yet functional - designers just can't seem to get enough. And we don't mind one bit. While this cut is all so en vogue at the moment, rose cuts are not new - they have a very rich history. This cut dates back to the 1500s.
Rose cuts were first seen in the Georgian and Victorian Eras, with many cuts coming out of the Dutch region of Europe. They faded in popularity, but as we entered the 20th Century and brilliant cuts became more popular for their firey sparkle. Rose cuts have re-surged in popularity in the last five years and many designers are finding inspiration in their glowing facets and flat bottoms - there are some seriously incredible designs featuring rose cuts.
They are not as *flashy* as brilliant cuts and they can sit more flush to the finger and accommodate a different variety of setting types. Rose cuts a great alternative from someone looking for something more subdued or alternative. Even though they are having a moment, rose cuts have and always will be here to stay.
They were named rose cut because the cut resembles the petals in a spiraling rose bud. In general, they have a flat bottom and a domed crown coming to a subtle peak at the top. It's important to note they have no pavilion (basically, the triangular bottom part you see on a brilliant cut - rose cuts don't have that). This cut creates a more subtle look and won't have the same intense scintillation and light return you see in a brilliant cut diamond, instead you see a softer, glowing kind of sparkle. Rose cuts sort of beg for candle light and flowers (and champagne). And we're cool with that.
Without that pavilion, they can be cut into many different shapes and tend to have more "spread" which means more of the carat weight faces up making the diamonds appear larger than a brilliant cut of the same carat weight. We're also cool with that. Rounds reign supreme in terms of popularity, but you'll also find elongated cushions, pear shapes, kites, ovals trillions... the list goes on.
Unlike many modern cuts that have standardized facets and cut patterns (aka rules), rose cuts can have anywhere between 3 or 24 facets. The faceted top is what makes them different from other flat bottomed stones such as cabochons or sugar loafs. The most popular and classic ones you see today have 24 facets but many have less to make some very unique and beautiful shapes. Despite their specific flat bottomed fashioning, they look baller next to small brilliant cut accents, so don't be afraid to accent a killer rose cut with small traditionally cut stones with pavilions. Magic. Another spectacular thing in the rose cut family is what is known as a double rose cut! It's essentially like you have two rose cuts put together. These stones are exceptionally beautiful because double the facets double the sparkle!
Before you leave and start creating your Rose Cut Diamond Engagement Ring *secret* Pinterest board, let's talk colour. We spelled it fancy there just now to match the allure of a rose cut gem with color. In the diamond category, you're going to find that opaque white, grey, champagne, light brown, salt and pepper, and black diamonds are increasingly common. The cool part about this is that each one is totally one of a kind. The hard part about this is that designing a custom ring and sourcing your ideal rose cut stone can present itself as a challenge. Take a deep breath and know your ideal rock is out there. It might just take some digging! It's a good idea to find an artist you love that already works with the stones and then have that artist help you source your perfect gem.
A note on sapphire rose cuts! Sapphires look amazing in rose cuts. So, go for it. Here are a couple of tips: turn the color saturation up a notch to maintain the color when worn over skin, or ask your ring designer to back the rose cut with metal in order to reflect light and maintain the color through the stones, esp if it's a lighter color.
There's always one more thing: we don't 100% recommend a rose cut for an engagement ring that isn't diamond or sapphire. Because of the shallow depth of the stone, you especially need a hard mineral. So, diamond and sapphire are your go-to's for a rose cut ring.
This post was co-authored by Danielle Mainas of LITTLE BIRD & Catherine Cason of Gem Hunt and
So. Where do I start? I get like this when I have a crush on someone or something. Sort of embarrassingly speechless. Lamozine. OK, I'll get it together to introduce a design team I've had a major Instagram crush on for a while now: @gemsteady. Not only was I enraptured by Brittany's fantastically unique Instragram curation, but I was attracted to her voice. In her own words, they make "FINE JEWELS FOR FUN PEOPLE. Custom made just for you by an actual human person." Visit the GEM STEADY website and you're greeted with the this headline "TURNING THOUGHTS INTO RINGS SINCE 2012" underneath which you might find an image of a small plastic cat next to a small plastic parakeet both gazing at a wildly beautiful ring Brittany designed and her partner and husband Robert hand-crafted. I reached out to Brittany and when she emailed me back this was in her email signature:
Obviously, I wanted (needed) to know more, so hopped the phone to chat. We just clicked. Aside from loving the process of custom design, we both believe in astrology and think our own jokes are nothing short of side split-tingly hysterically funny. We slay us. So we decided to interview one another on the process of custom designing engagement rings.
LITTLE BIRD: How can the you inject some personality into a 'basic' design (i.e. their partner asks for a non-flashy solitaire)?
GEM STEADY: With so many options available out there I do think it’s a little sad when folks go for ‘safe’ options. But hey! That’s just some peoples cup of tea. Do you, girl! That being said; a good way for the buyer to inject some personality in that situation would be to go the handmade route. Having a ring handmade is really cool because you can dictate small details like the number of prongs you want to go with (or bezel perhaps?) or maybe play with the width or shape of the band. Even a ‘basic’ design will end up with defining quirks and characteristics when going the handmade route since the artist is creating it from the ground up.
LITTLE BIRD: How often do ladies contact you for help with their mans ring?
GEM STEADY: Not as often as they should. We do make men’s rings and love to do coordinating sets, but it’s funny bc in my experience the guys ring is kind of an afterthought. Sometimes a couple will contact me literally a week or even days before the wedding in a tizzy because they need a ring on the fly (Not recommended. Try hard not to do this.)
LITTLE BIRD: What is your favorite ring you helped someone design?
GEM STEADY: I have quite a few top favorites (all the images in this post are good examples of faves), but one that sticks out is a ring we created for a friend a couple of years ago. The center stone was a custom faceted marquise shape lodolite quartz and it had a diamond halo that went from black to gray to white diamonds. Everything about it is right up my alley. It was a mashup of classic, goth, and avant-garde glory.
LITTLE BIRD: Are there any gemstones you DO NOT recommend when designing a ring?
GEM STEADY: We get requests for so many different stones, and love making engagement rings with unexpected gems, but of course you have to be cautious since not all stones are hard enough to hold up to the everyday wear and tear of long term commitment.
When someone comes to me asking for a stone that ranks low on the hardness scale I make sure they are enlightened on the risks associated. I never want to ‘talk someone out’ of getting a certain gem if there’s a sentimental reason why they want it in the first place, but I do keep it real on the possibilities of things breaking or chipping in the future so that they are fully aware of what they’re getting.
LITTLE BIRD: Final words of wisdom?
GEM STEADY: Designing and buying an engagement ring should be fun and shouldn’t cause you to wake up sweating from night terrors. There are a million people and places you can purchase a ring from; go with what feels right not with who lays the pressure on thickest. If you want a ‘basic’ ring then by all means get that basic ring, lady. It will look great with your Michael Kors watch. And if you want something bold and colorful then go on with your bad self. It will totally vibe with your combat boots. There are no rules. You’ll be wearing this thing for a long time (hopefully). Make sure it speaks to you.
Well, that was a ton of fun. I look forward to working with Brittany and Robert all of the tiz-ime!
Love them or hate, diamond halos are here to stay. The question really is - to halo or not to halo? Some people stand firm and say "just put all the money into the rock!" others can't get over the sparkle and finger coverage that halos add to a ring. Well, if you are considering a halo engagement ring, then we are here to break down all the options for you.
One - The traditional pave diamond halo (pictured ring from Honey Jewelry Co): this is the most common and the most popular kind of diamond halo you will find. It adds a bit of sparkle without detracting too much from the diamond and subtly enhances the perceived size of the ring without being obvious. If you are a woman with classic taste, this is a great choice. The pave-set diamonds in the halo look ideal in a 1.1-1.3mm range. You want to keep that halo looking light and fine so that it accentuates the center stone without being bulky
Two - Diamond jacket (picture ring from D&H Jewelers and Marrow Fine diamond jacket): diamond jackets are like diamond halos that you can choose when you want them or not. If you want the best of both worlds of a solitaire and the sparkle of a halo, this is the option for you. Here you can play with graduating the size of the diamonds in the band, from tiny to medium in size. You might also decide to champagne diamond it up (shown above)! Or maybe add a pop of color with a green emerald jacket...
Three - Bezel set halo (pictured rings from Jennifer Dawes Design) - a bezel-set halo is when the diamond is surrounded by a complete frame of metal and then a halo of diamonds. This is a great way to add a halo that is also very safe and secure for the central gemstone. It also has a bold goddess vibe. Think Athena, ancient and tough. It's a way to harden up the otherwise ultra femme halo style.
Four - The open halo (pictured ring from Jennifer Dawes Design) - this option is sort like a jacket but instead it is one piece. Like jackets, it is a great alternative if you don't want to commit to a halo full time but want to add some sparkle for special occasions or mix up your look. Pair this with you classic platinum solitaire and bingo-bango, you're stylin like for reals
Five - Scalloped diamond halo (pictured ring from Scout Mandolin) - this is a great example of how designers can use halo to create a unique look and feel for your ring. In this case, the unique design points are the cardinal point prong (north, south, east, west) setting and then diamond halo that is scalloped around the diamond with milgrain detail - lots of detail work on this one!
Six - Larger Halo (pictured antique Georgian rose cut ring) - this is an example of a larger diamond halo which really gives the ring a larger appearance on the hand. Genuine vintage Georgian styles are stunning and completely irreplaceable. We just don't make jewelry like this today. And: major bang for your buck.
Seven - Emerald cut pave halo with vertical baguette accents (pictured ring is from Scout Mandolin) - I mean. This is how you set a 1 carat emerald cut. This ring has it all. There is fantastic contrast between the step cut center diamond and baguettes to the brilliant cut round diamond accents in the halo. We have double claw prongs from that Great-Gatsby-meow-vibe (a technical term), and the whole piece just comes together flawlessly.
This post was co-authored by Catherine Cason of Gem Hunt and Danielle Manias of Little Bird Told You. Originally posted on GemHunt.Co.
Well, there are quite a few ways that an Engagement Ring Consultant can save you money on the purchase of a ring. Chase.com points out three reasons to consider hiring a LITTLE BIRD Engagement Ring Consultant:
1. Hiring a Ring Consultant can save you 20 to 40 percent off the cost of the ring
Linda DiProperzio of Chase.com says: "This is key, since spending on engagement rings is at its highest ever. A survey by The Knot, a popular wedding resource, found that the average price of an engagement ring is about $6,000. Making sure you get the most for your money is crucial." LITTLE BIRD agrees. Big time. There's not a lively secondary market for private engagement ring sales out there. So, you're likely going to hold on to this ring for a very very long time. Let's make sure it's an investment you can stand behind for the long haul!
2. Ring consultants have insider knowledge
We go way beyond the 4c's. A consultant can inform and educate you on nitty gritty diamond and ring vocabulary that you won't glean online. We can also review diamond and gemstones certificate prior to you pulling the trigger. Furthermore, do you have the right metal type selected? Is this the right style of pavé? How will this ring jive with your future wedding band. We know this stuff inside and out and getting personalized advice based on YOUR goals and your lifestyle is what getting great ring consultation is all about.
3. We can offer a wider selection
AND we can help you figure out what you want. Picking out an engagement ring isn't a cake walk. You might not be aware of all your options and of all the bespoke and custom elements that are available to you for each little part of the ring anatomy. The options are endless. Your ultimate ring IS possible. It's just a matter of understanding what's out there!
A word to the wise: check on the commission
The thing is there are a few types of consultants out there. There are consultants with affiliate relationships with 6-8 online diamond companies. There are consultants who also sell diamonds. And then there's LITTLE BIRD. "Consultants like LITTLE BIRD don't profit off the sale of the gems or the design of the ring. Instead, the company charges a flat fee, with packages starting at $75. 'Our clients know that we're giving them unbiased recommendations because we're not profiting in the amount someone pays for the ring,' says Beth Moore, LITTLE BIRD's expert GIA certified Graduate Gemologist."
You may be already starting to feel overwhelmed by all the different looks out there, all the diamond information, and the barrage of marketing coming your way. It is time to stop the madness. LOOK, before you even step foot into a jewelry store or spend another hour poking engagement ring shopping online, you'll need answers to these 9 questions below.
This should give you some insight and help you determine what direction you should focus your attention and research energy. By the end of this lil exercise, you should have a firm idea of your next steps and whether or not you need additional guidance along the way.
NOTE: we recommend copy and pasting this list into a Google doc or similar and recording your answers in note form so that you can actually reference back to it. Seriously, if you bring these answers with you anywhere you will have a much more successful experience. Ok, here goes!
HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR DIAMOND SIZE from GH's Expert Panel on Engagement Ring Advice You Haven't Heard Before
Jewelry blog GEMHUNT.co hit the Internet like WHOA in 2016. We are honored to be joined by Jewels by Grace, The Clear Cut, Victor Barboné & Designs by Kamni on their expert panel, topic: Engagement Ring Advice You Haven't Heard Before. Among sage advice on how to find imperfections in the diamond and how to find the perfect engagement ring that is utterly personal, and unique is our hot pro tip on how to maximize the size of your diamond:
4. Don’t forget that “carat” refers to the weight, not how large the diamond actually appears when viewed from the top. Therefore, it’s super important to me that my clients choose a high standard for the quality of “cut” and then select the stone with the largest millimeter measurements so that they get the largest top view of the diamond for their money. Danielle, Little Bird
Get all the wisdom here: