Besides the marriage license, wedding rings are the only physical symbol of this legal coupling, and these tiny treasures will be on display every day, until death do you part. No pressure. For this reason, these meaningful pieces of jewelry should bring you joy and happiness every time you look at them through the years to come.
Everyone has their own aesthetic, which is why creating your own ring has become ever more popular. For more than 30 years, Santa Barbara jewelry designer Calla Gold has helped couples incorporate the quirky, romantic, and historic details of their relationship into custom designs and recently wrote the book Design Your Dream Wedding Rings: From Engagement to Eternity to give people the language they need and walk them through the steps it takes to make their wedding ring visions come to fruition. Design Your Dream Wedding Rings offers anyone engaged — or soon to be — the confidence and knowledge to design a ring that is as perfect, durable, and beautiful as their love.
The book is laid out in the order of how to begin creating your own ring, from the language needed to articulate your design concept to redesigning an heirloom to maintenance after the big day. “The Sixteen Steps to Custom Jewelry Design” will take you from trying on rings, jeweler sketches, bids, and wax models to ring approval. For example, to know that a “roundy-square diamond” is really a cushion cut or those “sticky-uppy things” are prongs might leave you with “an altered version of your idea.” The invaluable information is accompanied with images about diamond and gemstone basics, ring shapes, and wedding bands (contoured, stacking, and eternity).
Besides the piece of jewelry itself, there are other ideas to take into consideration, Gold explains, such as your lifestyle and how it lends itself to the type of setting — e.g., prong, head, bezel, channel, inlay, flush, pavé — that is best for you. “Women with an active lifestyle often choose a bezel setting because it’s smooth to the touch and won’t catch on clothing,” writes Gold. The shape of the ring “plays an important role in how it compliments your hand” (i.e., what works best with short fingers, full hands, etc.).
Then there is the question of which metal to choose. Did you know that the higher the karat, the softer the ring, meaning it will be more prone to denting? And, just because platinum is harder than gold doesn’t mean it’s best for your design; white gold may be a better option. Gold does not recommend titanium or tungsten rings as they “are almost impossible to size or solder.” Once you decide on a metal, there are several decorative extras to consider, such as engraving, textures, and finishes — hammer, matte, satin, stipple, twig (it looks like an actual twig), oxidation, and high polish are just a few of the options. There is also plating (short for electroplating), which, according to Gold, “is done for effect, to alter the vibe … or for maintenance,” such as rhodium to give “white gold a more defined and bright white” appearance or black rhodium for a more edgy or antique look.
Readers will learn the difference between a CAD (computer-aided design) and wax model, both of which are used to mock up your ring before your sign off on it. Gold shares insight like not to despair if the prongs appear twice as big in the wax model because the “prongs are regularly exaggerated in the wax to ensure proper casting, and filed down afterwards.” For those surprise engagements, there are tips on how to secretly retrieve your soon-to-be fiancée’s finger size without them knowing, and throughout the book are Gold’s comments with actual stories from some of her clients, such as Elaine, the rebel rule-breaker whose design Gold originally advised against but ended up giving her blessing after the bride was made aware of the extra care that might be needed.
The book ends with a separate quiz for men and women that will leave “no stone” unturned as to what type of wedding ring your heart desires.