This is a little series of blogs where some of our favorite engagement ring designers tell us how they imagined and then created their own engagement rings. Here for our second entry in the already critically acclaimed series "My Engagement Ring Story", a favorite of both the Giants baseball team and yours truly, our fave jeweler, everybody put your hands together for NICK ENGEL!
So, round here at LITTLE BIRD we suh-eriously heart Nick Engel & Co. He is an incredible jeweler who hand fabricates engagement rings for many of our clients from S C R A T C H. I mean. He's kind of a big deal. Spoiler alert: Best Ring Ever Award goes to Nick for Ali's stunning bespoke emerald cut diamond engagement ring. Without further ado, let's learn how Nick Engel went.........
What are the stats?
2.09ct Post Consumer Emerald Cut Center Stone Flanked by half carat baguette diamonds set in 18K Rose “Ali” Gold which I self alloyed.
How did you come up with the concept?
I started off creating a couple of rings that were more traditionally my style but none of them were just right. My team kept reminding me that this ring had to be exceptional and different from my other pieces. I honestly began playing around with fabrication and ended up with the final design after countless hours of filing and altering it until I was happy.
Did you work on it with your partner? How was that?
I actually did not. We created each others bands (which was awesome!) but I wanted to fabricate her entire ring while keeping it a surprise. I was lucky to have insider information from her best friend who took her ring shopping.
Did you always know what you wanted to design?
I had no idea...I really needed the process to dictate the final design.
What’s your favorite detail or part of the ring?
Setting the sidestones upside down and making the basket float were the two elements that really made the ring feel badass to me.
Did you go over budget?
I didn’t have a budget in mind so not really but I definitely went over what I thought I would make it for.
If your ring was worn by a mythical character, who would that character be? Does it have a special power?
Pegasus! Sparkly, brilliant, and capable of magically making your goals a reality. It’s special power is foresight... it predicts a pretty amazing future!
Is there advice you usually give clients that you didn’t take yourself?
If I told you I’d have to kill you...
A Chronological Account
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.
Antique engagement rings are a fantastic choice for a multitude of reasons: they are super unique and one-of-a-kind, they are recycled and therefore make a socially and environmentally sound choice, AND if you're planning to propose during the holiday season (or an any type of tight timeline) they are a huge timesaver. If saving time is a factor in your engagement ring shopping process, then you've likely considering shopping online as well. Shopping online for an engagement ring can be a challenge, and it might feel extra challenging to decipher the visual characteristics and inherent rarity and quality of a genuine antique ring from afar. While there are many online engagement ring offerings, not all of them offer fantastic imagery and details about each ring. Furthermore, perhaps the most important feature of an online collection is that it is curated by someone with an eye for unique, well balanced, beautiful pieces in fantastic condition. Enter: one of our favorite online antique engagement ring shops, Victor Barboné!
Owner and curator Andria is newer to the antique ring scene and has arrived with a stunning collection of both classic antique engagement rings alongside really unique silhouettes, all with extremely reasonable price points. We picked her brain to learn more about her curating process. Check it out:
LITTLE BIRD: At any given time, how many rings are on your site and how long do they tend to refresh? How quickly do they sell?
Victor Barboné: We try to keep a wide variety of rings on our site at all times and are constantly adding to our selection! We add 3-6 rings to our site per week so it is a good idea to get on our email list so that you can be one of the first to see our new additions! I’ve had rings sell within hours of listing and some that have taken MONTHS to sell. You never know which person will connect with which ring! Because all of our rings are one-of-a-kind pieces, we strongly encourage you to move quickly when your dream ring pops up! We offer 90 day payment plans for this reason so that you can secure your unique ring and have up to 90 days to pay for it!
LB: How do you select rings? Do you have a favorite era? And who is the woman you shop for?
VB: I have learned to select rings based on my gut. “Would I wear this ring?” is the question I always ask before I make a purchase. I once saw a ring that I thought was rather odd (the Caitlyn ring) but gorgeous! I thought, no, people will think that it is too weird. But, I just had to have it! So I bought it and it has been one of my most popular and widely shared rings! Once Wed even pointed out that it is their favorite!
LB: What are the most popular antique ring styles you sell? Also, most popular era?
VB: Solitaires with engravings and clusters go the fastest! Solitaires that have delicate, subtle details where it’s all about the diamond are super popular, such as the Lola and Marcella rings. Clusters where there is a central diamond surrounded by other diamonds (not quite a halo) such as the Clementine and Jacqueline rings are the second most popular!
LB: What's your favorite ring in your collection right now and why?
VB: Oh, gosh! My favorites change from day to day but if I had to choose which I would have as my engagement ring, the Vivienne ring as my engagement ring! I love the old cut diamonds and to me the diamond in the Vivienne is the PERFECT example of what makes an old cut diamond special! It has the perfect checkerboard patterns, a good sized culet, and a high crown that gives OECs that cloud-like appearance! I am also baguette-obsessed so I love those tapered baguettes that highlight that stunning 2.60 carat diamond!
Thank you for
Guys, sorry but we are officially in engagement season. It's the time of year when couples are getting ready to see family at holiday gatherings, draw closer for the Winter, and make lifetime memories. It's possible that an engagement could me in your near future. So, how long does it actually take to get an engagement ring in hand once you start looking for the perfect ring? Well, how much time ya got? The lead time can depend on a few things, so we broke down your options in terms of the the time needed to have a ring in hand. Hope this helps!
I need an engagement ring within 1 week from now!
There is a 1-7 day lead time for off-the-shelf rings. There are some fabulous "off-the-shelf" engagement ring options. Just because they don't take forever to get in your hot little hand, doesn't make them any less beautiful or valuable. The two main options are...
Antique Engagement Rings - Super romantic. Antique pieces make for fantastic engagement rings. Art Deco, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Retro... the styles and options are practically endless and you're sure to find something that fits the style and budget you're aiming for.
Favorites: Erstwhile, Lang Antiques, Trumpet & Horn and Victor Barboné
Boutique Engagement Rings - Super cool. There are some really excellent online and brick & mortar boutiques that offer already made, one of a kind, stunning engagement rings. There's a store out there for almost every style you can dream up: clean & classics, modern and streamlines, romantic and alternative, organic and wabi-sabi. What vibe are you going for?
Favorites: Catbird, Shibumi Studio & Gallery, Esqueleto and Trabert Goldsmiths
Pro tip: There's always the "temp setting" option. It's fabulous for nailing a tight timeline once you've found the perfect diamond. This is a blackbelt move, so feel free to buzz us for some free advice on how to tackle this option.
I need an engagement ring in 2 weeks from now!
There is a 1-2 weeks lead time for standard design engagement rings. What does that mean? Well, when a designer or a jeweler offers a standard design then they are able to produce that ring to your exact specifications within about 2 weeks. Think of it this way, if there's a style number or style name associated with the piece, then it's likely part of that jeweler's "standard collection" and therefore they have all the design parameters already laid out and ready. You just have to pick the center diamond or gemstone, a specific ring size and metal type (platinum, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, etc). There are fantastic in-store and online jewelers who offer fabulous, unique and well-made standard collections.
Pro tip: if you're going this route, be sure to confirm that you have a return and exchange policy. It's customary to offer this option for standard collection pieces.
I need an engagement ring in the next 1-3 months!
Well then! You've got the perfect amount of time to tackle a bespoke engagement ring project if you so desire. Off-the-shelf options or standard designs may still be at the top of your list based on your ring style goals, but if you feel like custom is the route you would like to take then buckle in for a bit of a ride. Once you pick a jeweler and have a basic design scheme in mind your next steps are to select the center diamond or gemstone with the jeweler, and then move to the sketch or CAD design phase. Once you approved of the stone and the ring specifications, the ring will take another 2-4 weeks to be crafted from scratch. Hence, the whole process takes about 6-8 weeks on average.
Need some personalized ring wisdom in regards to your timeline? We are happy to chat with you about the best strategies based on your schedule. And it's free!
While we were browsing the internet looking at beautiful rings we noticed that many people are using a few terms for metal-smithing techniques interchangeably. If you are finding this confusing, you are not alone. Never fear, we are here to set the record straight.
Filigree is the process of coiling and bending tiny threads and beads of metal into ornate patterns and soldering them together or onto another metal surface. The term comes from the Latin word filum - meaning thread, and granum - meaning grain.
Engraving is when the jeweler cuts grooves into the surface of your ring to create images or patterns.
Relief is much like engraving but instead of simply carving a pattern into the surface, in a relief the background is deeply cut away to leave a raised surface which is then carefully engraved. The end result is a is much more three dimensional effect.
Milgrain refers to the delicate edging of tiny indents and bumps that jewelers sometimes apply to the borders of a design using a "knurling" tool. It is a great way to add a bit of intimate detail to your ring. Sometimes milgrain is incredibly tiny and delicate, sometimes it is so large it can look like a row of beads along an edge. The word milgrain is a literal translation of a French word meaning 'a thousand grains.'
Don't worry, there isn't going to be a quiz. If you have any questions about the techniques or rings you see here please don't hesitate to get in touch with us!
One of our favorite clients opted for this combination recently and the results were spectacular. More people should do this. We wanted to discuss the pros and cons for the rest of y'all out there.
Old Mine cuts and old European cuts are harder to find. They are not included in the inventories of major diamond retailers, so you have to have an insider hookup. That being said, they are not as expensive as you'd think - considering their rarity - and if you know the right people you can get your hands on some truly gorgeous diamonds. Luckily, we do. ;)
Old Mine cuts and European cuts were crafted long before the Modern Round Brilliant was invented. The cut is blockier, more fiery, and is not graded by the same standards that the industry uses to analyze modern brilliant cuts. Often these stones do not come with a certificate from GIA or another grading lab. This makes antique cuts a bit tricky to shop for, but on the plus side they are valuable because of their appeal, so you can feel free to trust your gut, follow your instincts, and choose a stone that you fall in love with. (If this sounds really scary to you, never fear, we are here to talk you through it.)
If you are looking for the classic Tiffany or Cartier engagement ring, this may not be the best route for you. These diamonds generally have a slightly warmer color and a faceting pattern that needs a jeweler who specializes in setting antique cuts to compliment their uniquely beautiful qualities. This is the best way to get the warm look of an antique without the years of wear and tear on the setting. You can work with your jeweler (such as the lovely and talented Linsday Chapman of Giador Fine Jewelry in Nashville, TN) to decide what antique elements you want to include, and what elements you want to update for your modern, glamorous lifestyle. Or your rustic, bohemian lifestyle. Or your drunk, yoga, camping lifestyle. Your call.