#HowHeAsked: In the snow with a custom ring.

Andrew and Stacey got engaged on Dec. 15, 2017. But the process they went through to find the perfect, one-of-a-kind ring started 11 months earlier.

In January 2016, Andrew and his girlfriend walked into Gold Art, a Ritani partner jewelry store in Manhattan, to look at engagement rings. They had talked about getting engaged a little bit already, and they wanted to get a sense for what she would like in person. They looked at halos, solitaires, and several other kinds of rings. There was an oval shaped diamond set in a halo that she was drawn to. Some of her friends were already engaged, so it was important to her to have something that was custom and unique. The oval diamond looked special and had a gorgeous sparkle. They left without buying anything, but Andrew came away knowing that there was an oval cut diamond ring in their near future.

A few months later, Stacey showed Andrew a photo of a ring that she liked on Instagram. Andrew took that as his hint – he needed to get moving on this proposal thing, but he didn’t want an off-the-shelf ring. He knew it was important to Stacey that the ring would be unique and he knew that Ritani offered custom ring design services. So he looked through Ritani’s online inventory and found the ring they saw in the store a few months earlier; it happened to be very similar to the one Stacey had sent him. With the Instagram post and a link to the Ritani ring at hand, he immediately emailed Ritani’s customer service team.

The initial ring design.

“I know Stacey likes this basic design, but I want something more unique for her,” he wrote to Nicole, one of Ritani’s gemologists. Nicole got to work drafting 3D renderings of different customization options. She started out asking him questions, working to understand Andrew’s wants and needs and helping him understand all the customization options, from halo size to prong height to metal color and all the different options for accent diamonds.

After 3 rounds of design and nearly 200 emails between them, Andrew made his decision.

“I decided on the thinnest band available. I knew Stacey would want to wear the engagement ring alongside her future wedding band. This design would let her do that, and it looked the most refined and well-crafted.”

Andrew chose yellow gold for the metal. “I looked for hints in her own jewelry collection. The majority of her jewelry is yellow gold. I wanted this ring to reflect her style.”

He knew she loved rings that sparkle, so he decided to go with as many accent diamonds as possible. There are 76 smaller diamonds on the band and in the halo, plus of course the main stone in the center. And speaking of the main diamond – now that he had finalized the ring design, it was time for Andrew to pick out the center diamond.

Setting? Check. Next step: diamond.

Based on how much Stacey liked the oval shaped diamond ring several months earlier, Andrew already knew that was the shape he had to go with. He sent Nicole a rough budget for the diamond, and she put together a list of diamonds within his range. She included high-definition videos at 20x magnification, so he could get a sense for the pros and cons of each individual diamond. Then they set up a call to review all the different diamonds.

Andrew reviewed about 15 different Ritani oval shaped diamonds in the 2 carat range, each with different combinations of the 4Cs. “The awesome thing about getting to look through this hand-picked list at home was that I was able to do some comparison shopping. I sent Nicole some diamonds from other websites that had similar specs but were a couple hundred dollars cheaper. She explained in detail where the price differences came from, and I came out of that feeling really confident that the Ritani stones were superior.”

Nicole was able to find him an excellent deal: a perfectly cut 2 carat oval eye-clean SI1 with inclusions hidden at the very bottom of the gem. “The inclusions are tucked away, you can’t see them at all,” he said. “This combination of the four Cs was perfect for us to create a stunning ring – and stay within my budget.”

With the center diamond picked out and the ring setting designed, it was now time for Ritani’s jewelers to work their magic. During this time, Nicole helped ease the suspense by sending him photos from the factory that detailed all the different steps of the process.

Watch how we made Andrew’s custom ring.

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“Seeing those step-by-step photos made me realize the incredible craftsmanship that goes into this. My ring was made right in my hometown in New York, by hand. The other amazing thing is that even with all the custom design work, this ring setting only cost $50 more than the off-the-shelf version, but the value to us is well beyond that,” Andrew noted. Since Ritani makes each ring by hand, it doesn’t cost much more to customize a piece, and they don’t charge fees or markups for custom work.

Picking up the ring.

Once the ring was finished, Andrew decided to have it shipped to one of Ritani’s partners in Boston to pick it up. “One of my best friends lives in Boston, so I planned a weekend with him and another close friend. It was good to have their support through the process and through the final transaction.” Plus, picking up the ring in a different city meant Stacey wouldn’t have a hint what was going on. He still wanted the proposal to be a surprise.

“I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the ring. I’d been building up to this for 4 months. A lot of time and thought and money went into this – from concepting to design revisions to watching the ring get built – so yes, I was excited to see the final product.”

Andrew and his friends arrived at Long’s Jewelers and were shown into the back room by the owner. He brought out the ring box and let Andrew open it up. “I knew right away she was going to love it. I passed it around the room. One of my friends said ‘You’ve done well, my friend.’ The owner said, ‘It’s a stunner.’”

38) The finished ring. It's a beauty!

Popping the question.

Andrew put a lot of thought into how he would get the moment right. That meant a location that not only had special meaning to the couple, but also that epitomized The Big Apple and was somewhere they could return to for years to come. After several years of dating and all that went into creating Stacey’s beautiful ring, Andrew wanted to make sure he had the memories to hold onto for a lifetime. So, he booked their very own paparazzi through on-demand photo service, Pretty Instant, who was able capture their perfect moment.

“Our friends who have gotten engaged before us say they blacked out in that moment. I didn’t want to forget this,” he said.

It was snowing in Manhattan on the evening Andrew picked to propose to Stacey. They walked from his office toward the New York Public Library, a unmistakable city landmark, with personal significance. Bundled up against the cold weather, they reached the iconic library steps where Andrew presented her with the ring. And as you can see, Stacey was thrilled:

proposal photo 1

“It’s a winner,” said Andrew. “She loves it. Her friends love it. And no one else has that ring – it really is unique, which adds great meaning for both of us.”

Andrew and Stacey will be wed in the spring of 2019, ideally in warmer weather.

Ready to design your own custom engagement ring? Get started today!


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