It’s engagement story time! This month you are in for a beautiful story from our clients who designed an amazing engagement ring using sentimental heirloom diamonds. Eileen and Eric were generous to sit down with me to share their lovely approach to Eileen’s gorgeous custom diamond ring. It’s a beautiful narrative based on our specialty: making an engagement story all your own. Oh, and lest I forget to mention: cats in tuxedos are involved in the proposal…
Meaghan: Designing an engagement ring is a very different process from picking one out of a case. What made you and Eric decide you wanted to opt for a custom ring?
Eileen: We had rings that had sentimental value to us so we knew upfront that we wanted to do a custom design. Candidly, I also feel like many engagement rings look the same and while they are gorgeous, I wanted something that was unique to me.
Meaghan: Do the diamonds you used in your ring have any significance to you?
Eileen: The diamonds in my ring are from my mother’s engagement and wedding bands and from one of my grandma’s anniversary bands. Growing up, my mom, grandma and I were extremely close and always considered each other to be “three best friends.” Both my mom and grandma had marriages that were strong, supportive, and fun-loving, which are qualities I consider important for my own marriage. With that in mind, using their diamonds for the ring but also making them into a design that represented Eric and me feels like a special way to remember them each day and to be reminded of the qualities in their marriage that Eric and I hope to emulate.
Meaghan: When you decide to design your engagement ring, did you know how you wanted it to look?
Eileen: I genuinely started with no real clue of what I wanted. I knew that a unique and modern take on a classic look but also wanted to make sure the ring was something I could wear for life and that it wouldn’t “go out of style.” When we walked into Alx&Co., you asked what I wanted and I honestly couldn’t articulate it so I googled asymmetrical and cluster rings which helped me form a bit more of an opinion about what I liked and didn’t like.
Meaghan: Images are so helpful in narrowing down different styles and coming up with a language to talk about what you like and don’t like. I find starting with a broad search is great and then we tailor it from there.
Eileen: Well, it turned out I liked clean prongs on the diamonds, an asymmetrical look but with the ability to have a symmetrical wedding band and a clean band for both the engagement and wedding ring. You helped me articulate what the pictures I liked meant for the actual design of my ring and that made it so easy. We left our session at Alx&Co. and when we got the rendering, Eric and I looked at each other and said: “Now we have a local jeweler!”
Meaghan: You had great ideas throughout the design process but then handed off the final fabrication decision to Eric towards the end. Was the proposal a surprise?
Eileen: Eric and I probably would have kept everything a surprise to me but because we had my mom and grandma’s rings, we decided that I would be involved in the design process. That said, we did want the final components and also the actual proposal to be a surprise. After I foiled his plans several times by accident, Eric proposed at home. We had a running joke that our cats (with whom we are obsessed) would be dressed in tuxedos for the proposal. When I walked into the room I noticed our cats in tuxedos and I knew the proposal was happening! He then prepared one of my favorite meals post proposal.
Meaghan: What was your first thought when you saw the ring?
Eileen: My first thought was that it looked so much like the rendering but better. I wasn’t sure how closely the ring would resemble the rendering (which I had loved) and the ring looks so similar. I was SUPER happy with the ring and I also was happy with how it fit my hand so well (it looked both dainty and had the shine I was hoping for).
Meaghan: Do you have any suggestions for other couples who are considering getting engaged?
Eileen: Definitely do your research on jewelers. Alx&Co was just our style. Meaghan was low key but thoughtful and wasn’t overly pushy in the process so she made it feel like we could own the process which was great. Another piece of advice would be to have fun in the process. Eric and I had fun designing the ring and researching, too. When we first went ring shopping, we took ourselves out for brunch and a walk in Old Town to celebrate. It made the whole process a celebration versus just the actual proposal itself.
Thank you, Eileen and Eric!
P.S., A special treat for readers: Eileen used a few of the leftover diamonds from her family rings to design a sapphire and diamond right-hand ring for her birthday earlier this month. Here’s a photo:
We sourced the Ceylon-colored sapphires and designed the setting to emulate her engagement ring and accommodate the slightly varied sizes of the diamonds. It’s stunning!
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.