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 third entry in the already critically acclaimed series "My Engagement Ring Story" : Emily Chelsea Jewelry specializes in custom designed engagement rings and wedding bands. Meticulously designed and expertly crafted, Emily Chelsea Jewelry is first designed with precision and accuracy then finished by hand for a handcrafted look. Emily is the person we go to when we have a client who has a super custom vision. Think words like "low sitting toasty butterfly" - Emily, we know you know what this means. Help! Not only is she a sister ring whisperer but this woman walks the walk. Emily Chelsea Jewelry is a proud member of Ethical Metalsmiths and is committed to social responsibility and equality. Her custom creations are made from 100% recycled precious metals or Fairmined Gold and ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones as often as possible AND is a Graduate Gemologist through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). I mean. This gal. SO without further ado, check out what she made for herself!
What are the stats?
Pear shaped rose cut gray diamond in an 18k yellow gold bezel setting by April Higashi. I originally wanted an amorphous green sapphire and was convinced that he would have plenty of options to choose from. I gave him some specifics but told him to choose the stone. In the beginning of the search, they found a great candidate, but because I was quite naive about it, I said yes but more green (thinking it would be out there). The search went on for over a year. At Christmas time, after telling all of my friends that surely, he would be proposing I finally broke down and asked him why he hadn’t. I thought maybe he would say they are putting the finishing touches on the ring but he said they still hadn’t found the stone. I was shocked.
After being schooled by my boyfriend on why what I was looking for was actually a needle in a haystack, I finally began to understand. He came with me to Tucson that February and we picked out a pear shaped rose cut diamond together. I realized I had wanted a fresh start from the green sapphire debacle and we both loved this new diamond.
How did you come up with the concept?
I always knew I wanted a solitaire, something simple. I knew I wanted to have 2 wedding bands and was planning on getting creative with that so I left the engagement ring simple.
Did you work on it with your partner? How was that?
My poor, poor partner. I basically kept telling him: “What I want is out there and there are plenty of it (the center stone)! And I want you to pick it out, but make sure it is X,Y, Z… oh and this, this, and this…. I was actually really specific and probably his worst nightmare. He was afraid that he wouldn’t get exactly what I wanted so we ended up working on it together in the end.
Did you always know what you wanted to design?
Pretty much. I met April Higashi 5 years ago and after seeing her work, I knew I wanted a piece by her.
What’s your favorite detail or part of the ring?
Because it is translucent, the diamond looks different every day. Some days I can see deep into the ring and other days, I just notice the inclusions toward the surface. It has a little bit of iron oxide staining deep in the middle and I love when I catch a glimpse of that.
Did you go over budget?
If your ring was worn by a mythical character (ehm ehm you), how would you describe that character? Does it have a special power?
Dark and stormy and full of mystery. Just like my diamond. Oh and can see into the future. :)
Is there advice you usually give clients that you didn’t take yourself? Or something you learned in the process that you now share with your clients?
I share my experience often since I had learned so much through the process. I felt so silly that even I, a jewelry designer and gemologist, could send my boyfriend on a wild goose chase for a stone that may have only existed once. There are so many times that we see a gem in a piece of jewelry or on Pinterest and are convinced that we can have one identical to it. But gems are truly one of a kind. If you have your heart set on something, then something has to give- and it is usually your timeline or budget. If there is no wiggle room, then I encourage clients to be more open. Once we get a certain image out of our heads, it opens up so many possibilities with other truly beautiful stones. And that first green sapphire that I thought wasn’t green enough? My very wonderful partner managed to buy it as well and we made it into a right hand ring that I wear almost every day. And yes, it is so, so green. He occasionally asks if I wish it were my engagement ring, but I don’t. I love the ring he proposed to me with and I love that we chose the stone together.
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
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.
Thank you Offbeat Bride for putting together such a fun and super well written piece about how Little Bird Engagement Ring Consultants help our clients nail their dream rings. We've officially made Engagement Ring Consultants "a thing"? It's so so exciting.
xoxo, The Birds
A Favorite from the Little Bird Ring Vault: Diamond Chanel-set Halo with Bezel-set Round Diamond Center
Check out this stunning halo diamond ring we helped come to fruition. These stories are meant to help folks at the beginning of the process gain insight into the creation of a unique engagement ring. Through personalized diamond and gem selection, metal choice, and lots of innovative custom design work, beauties like this one made their way onto some very happy hands.
This client knew he wanted to maximize for the size of the center diamond, but he also felt strongly about selecting a color grade in the upper echelons of the scale. We were able to find him a larger-than-average diamond that featured an E color (very very high), and a once-in-a-lifetime, completely eye-clean twining wisp S12 inclusion grade. The result was a diamond over .10 carats larger, and 2 color grades better than every other option in his price range. W.I.N.
We designed each element of this stunning engagement ring, start to finish, with the groom-to-be. His other half was never once briefed on the process - it was a complete surprise. This halo style engagement ring features a very unique blend of design elements. The bride-to-be was described as being a very physically active, finance professional with a simple, unique and modern personal design taste. Oh yeah, she also wanted her ring to maximize for diamond size. Round diamond halos are a great way to maximize for visual size, but we also knew that adding a bunch of little diamond accents may prove complicated if she was super active, and planned on wearing this ring on her exercise and traveling adventures. In response, we advised a platinum bezel set center diamond, so that a smooth frame of very durable precious metal held the gem in place instead of the classic prong-set design. Additionally, we made the halo diamond accents each smaller than the status quo, and increased the quantity of them. This specific design choice served to magnify the size of the center gem, while increasing the total number of diamonds on the ring itself. We also chose to channel-set each diamond in the halo instead of the usual prong-ladden pave setting you always see, which is typically more fragile than the clean channel setting. The result is a smoother, far more durable, and just plain cooler halo style ring.
Bonus Points: We quizzed our boy on inside lover's jokes between him and his girl to uncover the special inscription on the inside of her band. Special touches like these impress for a lifetime. Literally.
Now What? Your design story is bound to be different, but the rules of engagement remain: get some help. We will happily lend an ear and help you get on the right track. Schedule a COMPLIMENTARY BIRD CALL.. This is a free consultation and very smart investment in the search for your ideal engagement ring. Let’s hop on the phone, find out where you are in the process, and get you headed in the right direction.
Just kidding. There's really only one reason to avoid "trendy" engagement rings: because you should have something you love that represents your unique style. The point of an engagement ring is that it's here to stay, and the point of trends is that they aren't. Trends are fleeting. So what do you do if you've fallen in love with a majorly re-pinned ring from Pinterest? The fact that your favorite ring is on Pinterest means two things: it's probably a lot of other people's favorite ring, too, AND it's probably not available from the original retailer any longer. Sad story getting sadder.
Guys, we have an idea. What if you recreated that popular setting you love, but with a unique center gemstone? Enter the Eighty-Eight Diamond Cut. This diamond cut looks like something from a bygone era, but it's actually a newer and pretty rare cut. Note: this means you won't see it all over the place. Instead of recreating/straight-up-copying a ring you see on Pinterest, consider what it would be like to look at that ring design with a kaleidoscope and bring some more interest into the design. Make it yours. Creating a setting with an Eighty-Eight cut diamond center is a slick way to accomplish this. This diamond has 88 facets, which is about 30 more facets than your basic round brilliant (learn more here). ALSO, eight sides. We are into it.
So we took the top 8 rings people bring us and we are reimagining them set with an Eight-Eight diamond in the center. Imagine with us...
perfect for an Art Deco-inspired piece
the ultimate no-brainer for an 8-sided diamond
this, but with an 88. can you see it? we can see it.
for a twist on the simple solitaire
a ring with eight prongs = a diamond with eight sides!
would look super cool with compass point prongs
octagonal halos are made for 88 cuts
octagonal solitaire settings work, too
From our experience, you guys (all ya'll engagement ring shoppers) don't want to be trendy. In fact, one of the biggest trends these days is to avoid trends. For such a personal piece of jewelry, most people ask us how they can personalize a ring they've seen that they really liked. Check out the Eight-Eight and drop us a line if you need help reimagining your ideal setting!
Olivia Wilde rocking a green emerald halo diamond ring.
Most heartfelt congratulations to T & C on their engagement and for getting one of the most remarkable rings we have ever seen. T became a Little Bird client because he was inspired by Olivia Wilde’s engagement ring. He wanted something just like it, but with purple sapphires; because that is C's favorite color. Purple sapphire is somewhat rare, and it is even more rare to find in the shape we would need to make a solid halo of color around the center stone. The stones would have to be recut… by hand. He had tried a number of jewelers, to no avail. None of them were willing to take on the scope or difficulty of this project - at least not for a price that was anywhere close to his budget. Luckily, Little Bird has an extensive network of jewelers, designers and industry insiders. We hooked him up with Emily of Emily Chelsea Jewelry. Emily has a talent for making anything you can dream of, and even luckier, she was able to manage having the sapphires custom cut by a local a stone cutter. That just doesn't happen everyday, folks! The ethical origin sapphires Emily chose were untreated Yogo sapphires, which means they came from Montana in the US.
Meanwhile, Olivia Wilde’s engagement ring features an antique diamond that is somewhere around 4 carats. We liked the size of the diamond, and the proportions between the center diamond, the purple sapphire halo, the bezel setting, and the band. In order to get the same proportions we opted for a rose cut diamond from our friends at Perpetuum for the center stone. This design choice also helped us keep the finished ring low profile and wearable. As a final touch Emily gave the 18k yellow gold setting a soft, matte finish which is elegant, feminine, and enhances the antique style. She also took photos of the ring during production so we get to watch as the ring comes together.
“I absolutely love how the whole ring came together but some of the almost "behind the scenes" elements are my favorite. The pitched/angled halo and the little spacers between the sapphires. Those two elements really enhance the piece and tie it all together and the five spacers was a bit of a last minute decision- I'm so glad we chose five instead of an even number like four or six - it made the look a little more natural because of the asymmetry.” Emily, Emily Chelsea Jewelry
Have you ever dreamed of recreating a gorgeous celebrity engagement ring? Little Bird would be happy to help. You are welcome to drop us a line to set up a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your vision for the perfect ring.
Ever wondered how an engagement ring gets made? We had the pleasure of guiding our client Fabian through the custom design process from idea to "YES!" and it was incredible. Fabian started with a fairly clear picture of his ring. He knew he wanted a substantial center stone set in a halo sitting low to the finger so it would be comfortable. We played with a few concepts and eventually added a matching pavé split-shank band in 18K white gold. It was important to Fabian that he work with a local jeweler of the highest caliber. After exploring options both near and far, we let our instinct be our guide and decided to work with Monique of Gold Direct Jewelers in Sudbury, Ontario. By then, we had really done our homework, and as Fabian explains it:
Not only was Monique a dream to work with, but she took pictures of the entire ring creation process. Thanks Monique! Take a peek behind the curtain as this ring comes into being.
The ring is finished! Monique did a great job. It's gorgeous and we couldn't be happier for Fabian and Jessica. Fabian is one of the nicest, most genuine, customers we have ever had the pleasure to work with, and his enthusiasm and excitement to be getting engaged to Jess was contagious. Congratulations to the beautiful couple! We wish you two cuties all the best!
If you are feeling inspired and interested in starting the process of designing and creating a custom engagement ring please don't hesitate to drop us a line! We love projects like this and we would be happy to talk to you.