A few months ago, we created an engagement ring that has proved to be one of my favorites we have ever made. When our client first sat down with me last year to talk about her engagement ring idea, I was immediately struck by her editorial take on the design. She didn’t mention it to me at the time, but I could immediately discern that she had a background in fashion and a keen eye for perfection…
Rather than seeking out a traditional diamond ring, my client Rachel knew she wanted a minimalist pearl design. I’ll admit, when she first mentioned the idea to me I was a little skeptical. Pearls are notoriously fragile. They scratch easily and you need to be very careful about what type of chemicals get on them, including those in lotions, hair spray, and antibacterial gel. But, Rachel already knew this — and she had a beautifully poetic response to my concerns. I recently sat down with our wonderful client, Rachel, to talk about her design, her engagement to her fiancé Andy, and what inspired her to create such a beautiful ring.
Meaghan: How did you meet?
Rachel: We met the modern way, on a dating app called Hinge. I was living in Richmond at the time, but I set my search radius to include D.C. because I was considering moving. Andy had just moved to D.C. for work after growing up on the West Coast, so he was unfamiliar with the region. My location was called the “Fan District,” and Andy thought that was just one of the many districts within D.C.
Meaghan: That is so funny. I, too, remember moving to D.C. and having no sense at all of the neighborhoods and how far apart everything can really be.
Rachel: Our first conversation almost ended before it started because of the realization of the distance, but despite that, and both of us recently getting out of long-term relationships, we really connected in just a few exchanges over text. So, on our first date 48 hours later, Andy drove two hours to Richmond and spent seven hours with me.
Meaghan: What drew you to each other initially?
Rachel: When we first started chatting, we texted back and forth for two days straight. We made each other laugh so hard and had the same sense of humor. That is huge to me, and very hard to find. When he committed a whole day to our first date, all before a very early morning at his new job, I knew he was serious. I was looking for someone who knew what they wanted the same way I did, and we just clicked. I felt instantly comfortable around him. It’s not easy to spend seven hours with a total stranger, but it flew by.
Andy: Just going off her profile on Hinge, I knew right away that she was smoking hot and way out of my league. But I gave it a shot anyway because I had nothing to lose. After we started talking, I quickly learned that she has a sharp sense of humor, is so down-to-earth, kind, and thoughtful. Her smile was probably the first thing I noticed when she walked into the room on our first date. I did my best to put on the charm so there would be a second date, and I guess somehow it worked!
Meaghan: What made you decide you wanted to get married?
Rachel: Things moved fast for us. I started a class in D.C. only a few months after we met, which required me to be in town for four days out of the week. I pretty much moved in part-time during that time, and within four months we got our own place together. We both knew from the start that we truly wanted commitment and marriage, so conversations about it started relatively early. However, because we connected so easily, the entire conversation felt effortless and developed organically. We got serious about one year after meeting, and once we decided to go for it we couldn’t wait! We planned the whole wedding in six weeks!
Meaghan: Six weeks is amazing! But, you have such a precise eye and I’m sure that helped in making some of the wedding decisions. Before getting engaged, did you know what you wanted for a ring?
Rachel: I just knew I didn’t want a diamond. I know, gasp! I knew I wanted it to have meaning and to incorporate my grandmother’s wedding ring. Minimalist designs really draw me in more so than rings with elaborate embellishment, so that was something I kept in consideration.
Meaghan: Tell us about the design process.
Rachel: Before even visiting Alx&Co., I poured over Pinterest and Google for months (even before we talked about getting engaged, as we all do) looking for settings and stones that matched me and my style. I work in the fashion industry, so the design was extremely important to me. I also went to just about every jeweler in town, and when I visited Alx&Co. I knew immediately that I was in the right place. The interior is beautifully designed, and you and Tim were so lovely and welcoming.
Meaghan: You have such a beautiful approach to handling the fragility of the type of gem you chose. Tell us about your plans for your pearl.
Rachel: Because a pearl is so delicate, I’ll have to replace it every several years, but as I do, I’ll have a special box where each pearl will live, representing all of the years of marriage. Marriage is hard work, and these pearls will bear the blemishes of that dedication.
Meaghan: I love this idea so much. I think keeping the pearls as a visual reminder of the years you have grown together in your marriage is just lovely. Once you designed your ring, how did the proposal happen?
Rachel: The proposal wasn’t a surprise since we had been discussing marriage for a while. One night near the end of summer we just had a conversation about it that went something like, “Do you want to do this? Are we doing this? Okay, then let’s do it!” and that was when we decided it was happening. We didn’t do a traditional proposal, but we did make the experience meaningful to us. The day we picked up our ring was the day we announced our engagement to our family and friends. We made it special by getting dressed up and going for drinks at Chart House on the water in Old Town just after picking up our rings at Alx&Co.
Meaghan: Any tips for those who are thinking about getting engaged?
Rachel: Yes. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of your engagement plan! In an age of modern romance, the traditional getting-down-on-one-knee situation doesn’t fit every couple. I’m so glad that we made the decision together because that’s how we are as a couple. There’s no single type of a “perfect engagement.”
Meaghan: Can you describe your design process in one word?
Rachel: Edit. Edit. Edit.
Thank you, Rachel and Andy!
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.