It’s easier than you would imagine.
“Design your own engagement ring” is a mantra thrown around online, like colorful scatter cushions in a gypsy’s caravan.
The process of working closely with a jewellery designer to make a unique, once-off piece has been dumbed down to;
- Choose a design.
- Choose a diamond.
- Choose a metal.
- Ring size?
A waiter in a decent steakhouse will probably ask you more questions when you order a ribeye.
If these single-step approaches have left you inspired, I’d love to tell you what we do at a Poggenpoel Jewellery Studio.
What makes for a great engagement ring design?
- An engagement ring is a very significant symbol. It should tell a little bit of your love story.
- Whenever she catches a glimpse of her ring she should always feel loved and cherished.
- The ring should be personalised and customised to the extent where she knows it was manufactured for no one but her.
- She should feel comfortable wearing her ring at home, work, and run-of-the-mill social events.
- The design should be a good, durable match for her lifestyle and level of activity.
- It should be a wearable piece of art that inspires her in good times and bad.
- The ring’s design and purchase should be fun and celebratory.
Our 4 steps to bliss;
You’ve got to give him/us something to work with…
If you don’t wish to be involved in the design process please brief or guide your boyfriend in some way. Show him images, nudge him to your Instagram or a Pinterest board… talk to the guy. I’ve been doing this for many many years and I promise you, from extensive experience; he can’t read your mind when it comes to your desires and preferences for your engagement ring.
You’ll be wearing this ring all day, every day, for decades. That’s a massive commitment to this ring we’re talking about. You should adore it!
Forget the notion that you’ll be spoiling your own surprise. You have super-senses when it comes to things like these. You’ll know when he’s snooping around, and use this... to get it perfect. You’re more than capable of even hinting in a way he doesn’t notice consciously, but planting your seeds in his mind.
Now more than ever you need to work your magic.
90%. 90%. 90%.
That’s the percentage of women that want to be involved in the design of their engagement ring.
Please don’t assume that since she’s not mentioning anything, you’re on a solo mission. She might just be very polite and duly sensitive to the nature of this purchase.
If you’re sure she’s completely oblivious to your proposal plans; a chat might be a good idea. This is a big deal.
We’ve written a very useful guide: “Should Your Girlfriend Be Involved In The Engagement Ring Process?” (link).
2. Designer Session
Out of everything we do here on a daily basis, I’m the proudest of our design work. We’ve built an excellent team of 4 designers that specialise in unique styles and have years of experience in the high-end jewellery space.
Although we have a wide selection of stunning, proven designs on our website we really believe customisation is a key ingredient. We see this 200+ catalog as starting points.
During your visit to one of our studios, you’ll see we’re quick to call in a designer on the spot. We’re not grabbing the closest one, everyone in our design team has their own “best” style. We deliberately match what you’re after with a designer that’s the best pick for the job.
These folks just add tremendous value to any design-related chat. Regardless of how refined your concept is, they’ll add a touch of pure art to it, and elevate the design to the next level.
I’m unaware of another jeweller, not a one-man show, that would give you direct access to their design team. Jewellers are scared that designers, or customers, will be poached in some way. One of our current designers was stashed alone in a house for 18 months (he could leave at night) by a previous employer. He wasn’t allowed to speak to customers or the factory that produced his designs.
This disconnect greatly amplifies the risk of misunderstandings about what you’re looking for.
By having diamond consultants, jewellery designers and visitors in the same room, doodling away, you’ll get so much further and deeper.
The moment you’re out of the building you’re not counting on Cindy to accurate relay your information to an off-site designer. She immediately has a sit down with the designer where all the sketches, notes and ideas are added to a file that the design will be built from.
Tips to get the most from your session with a designer;
Our designs are crafted with someone in mind. We need to get to know her a little bit.
You don’t have to give a 10 page run down or a Myers Briggs personality type. We’re here to help you out with this, and we’re very well aware of the fact that we only look good when you do. We’re here to help.
When it comes to technicalities know that all our designers are fully qualified and registered goldsmiths. They’ve gone through at least 3 years of formal training with loads of hours working at a jewellery bench. We craft high-end products that will hopefully outlive us all. If a designer is of the opinion that a certain requirement would compromise the ring in any way; they’ll discuss it with you and suggest good alternatives.
Provide them with photos, stories, and sketches. They decode and distill these for a living. They’re “vibe catchers”.
A brilliant designer can get very far with cryptic information. Probably all the way.
3. Digital Design
With a first in, first out approach and at least 30 designs in the queue at any time, it might take 2 - 3 days for you to receive your digital design. If you’re pressed for time, we’re more than willing to make a plan for you.
This might seem backward, but I don’t want every designer to churn out 10 - 15 creations every day. I’d rather drop the number to 4 per day, and know we’re giving our creatives some breathing space to fine-tune designs until they’re happy.
You can’t rush art” - Toy Story 2.
You’re up! As soon as a designer gets to your job, she’ll, first of all, check in with your dedicated consultant for any new details you might have sent through.
Technologies: 3D Design & Manufacturing
The jewellery trade has been transformed over the past few years with technologies like the computer aided design and manufacturing that empower designers to create jewellery with previously unattainable levels of detail and precision.
Ordering a custom engagement ring 20 years or so ago was an act of nothing less than bravery.
From pencil sketches and scribbles to hand carving your design in wax for casting, you would have had a few artisans working on your ring throughout the process. Even if we assume every person working on your ring is a master craftsman, each has his own unique vision of what the ring should look like, and after it’s been through a few hands the end-goal is all just blurry.
*Old school carving on the left, 3D printing on the right.
Adopting new technologies to ensure benchmark work is very expensive. These programs take a lot out of a computer, and a R30 000 single CAD station is easily finished after just 12 months in use.
We recently did the math and just keeping licenses paid, the software up to date and computers in good shape costs a minimum of R110 000 per year… per designer.
Do you know why we gladly pay that premium? It’s 100% worth it. That’s the only crystal clear road to superior jewellery.
What on earth makes design software a great deal @ over R100 000 per year?
A 3D model can be can be moved and turned and tilted in any direction. You can even send it to your Gramma’ in Natal. Every area is accessible to the designer, and there isn’t a single “open to interpretation” section on any ring.
All designs are photo-realistically rendered, and you’ll know exactly what the end product will look like before you even give the go-ahead for manufacturing. This eliminates the chance of any bad surprises when you receive the ring.
The digital designs are 3D printed with extreme accuracy (25-micron layers). There is no risk of a goldsmith missing a detail you and your designer had in mind. It literally prints the design you approved into a wax mold for casting.
Delivering your design digitally;
The moment your designer is happy with his work, he’ll prepare a small packet of goodies for your consultant to get over to you.
- A photo-realistic rendering of the design.
- 4 Angles of technical, sterile drawings that expose every little detail for scrutiny.
- 8 Angles of the ring on a hand that is scaled to the correct ring size. These showcase proportions and answer a few questions in terms of relative height and size.
You’re also welcome to visit us if you wish to run through the design in a 3D environment. It’s really awesome.
At this stage we can also get a quote over to you since we know the exact amount of metal, small diamonds and labour we’ll need to execute the ring as per the design.
4. Is it perfect? That's what we're aiming for.
If your custom design doesn’t stir a resounding yes in your heart and mind - we have work to do.
To get the design to your perfect level, there might be minor changes you want to be done. That’s part of a design, and no one here ever takes offense. We need your feedback.
The only aspect we don’t budge on is where quality and durability is at stake.
Here are a few examples of non-negotiable parameters;
Main Diamond Claws/Prongs Size
You really don’t want your main diamond to go missing in action one day. To ensure these safeguards have the best chance of surviving an unfortunate big bang we have safe minimum diameter specifications.
Fine Aesthetic Filigree (petite curls and swirls)
Vintage style engagement rings were very popular this year. Fine, neat and intricate metal work is inherent to this detailed style, and it’s a tug of war with durability.
If the filigree is on a medium to high wear area, we need to keep the diameter of these “strings” to over 0,60mm. Anything finer and the filigree won’t be durable by any stretch of the imagination
Durable strong circular structure.
The bottom of the shank is the area that takes the most impact throughout a day.
To ensure it’s strong enough to keep the whole round ring structure in place, a minimum width/height of 1,7mm is needed.
If it’s a dress ring that won’t be worn every day, all day this can be dropped to 1,5mm.
Small diamonds should stay put.
This is a textbook catch 22.
To keep your small diamonds in place you need durable prongs, but if these prongs are too chunky it just looks bad. And it’s a very fine balancing act.
We’ve tested this extensively and 0,55mm is a good prong diameter for these smaller diamonds.
Uniquely Poggnpoel; We’re so sure 0,55mm prongs secure these diamonds, that we’ve implemented a 1-year guarantee on small diamonds. If one falls out (even due to normal wear) we’ll replace it free of charge. So relax and settle into your new chapter.
Talk to us about your ring, I know you want to.
I’m sure these pages have made one thing clear; we’re passionate about our work.
You’re more than welcome to visit one of our studios in Pretoria or Rosebank. I’m sure you’ll have a great time and drive away content about your choice of jeweller.
Johan Poggenpoel, Co-Founder.
T; 012 111 0525 (Pretoria) | 010 020 6811 (Johannesburg)
You’re more than welcome to reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and comments.