What led you to ring design?
I was studying blacksmithing and playing with jewelry on the side. If I got stuck on an idea, or if I was tired of working on something massive, like a big steel piece, I’d make a little ring. Then I opened an atelier on the fourth floor of a building in Soho, but it was open by appointment only. I thought it would be amazing to have a place where clients could walk in off the street and try something on, so I opened a store (47 Orchard St., nr. Hester St.) this past October.
Who is your typical customer?
They want something that doesn’t look like everything else they’ve seen—something original but still classic. It’s a diverse group. When I assume someone will pick out a really standard stone, they end up with an inverted diamond. Meanwhile, the woman covered in tattoos leaves with a pink sapphire.
It sounds like people are deviating from the traditional diamond ring.
They are, and I love when I get to make something totally different, like a beautiful pink tourmaline engagement ring. It’s an equally gorgeous stone, and an incredible shade of pink that’s unlike anything else.
Are those rings less expensive?
It depends on the stone and design. My favorite budget-conscious gems are Champagne diamonds, or diamonds that are slightly off-color. They come in all sorts of shades, so you can get a beautiful diamond that looks modern but also antiquey, depending on the setting. They’re less expensive per carat than diamonds that are perfectly white. And if you’re the kind of girl who likes a black diamond, you can get a lot of stone for a really good price.
Do some settings accentuate the size of a stone more than others?
Yes, a design with a pavé frame. This sort of diamond outline makes any stone look bigger and more sparkly.
Do people come back to you post-wedding to add on to their rings?
All the time. I make a lot of stack sets and two-finger designs. I had a client recently who ordered a five-ring stacking set of two crescents, a center ring, and then two more crescents.
Any advice for the helpless proposer?
Come in and look at everything, then pick out a few silhouettes. Find out the person’s favorite stones—besides diamonds, I make rings with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, and I mix metals like silver and yellow gold. Also, you can always buy a ring, propose with it, and then, if it’s not perfect, come back with your fiancée and design something together. If all else fails, ask her to make a Pinterest board of ideas. It’s an easy way for her to say “wink-wink, honey,” without taping a picture of the ring to the refrigerator.
Illustration by Aiko Fukawa
“For the man who hates jewelry, I recommend a simple yet unusual hammered-gold band.”