Caroline Grainger, bespoke engagement ring, 2017

Posted on the 6th December 2017

Caroline Grainger, bespoke engagement ring, 2017

"My tastes are often a bit off beat, so I knew I'd like something a bit different when it came to an engagement ring, but hadn't really given it much thought.

Once Kas and I had started talking about the possibility of getting married I had started to pay a little more attention to the stones and settings that I saw in shop windows or online. The usual engagement rings didn't appeal to me, and although I do like the sparkle of a diamond, I much preferred coloured gems. I was struggling to find a ring I liked from what was available, so it was obvious that Kas had no chance. Designing my own ring seemed like an obvious choice, but I wasn't sure where to start.

When Kas did propose he gave me an interim ring made from labradorite. Then I realised I had to give this ring design thing some real thought. It felt like quite a responsibility - if I designed it myself I can only blame myself if I don't like it!

The next step was drawing a design. I am an amateur painter and my paintings are predominately geometric shapes and bright colours, so the day after Kas proposed, I started drawing combinations of shapes on a bit of paper in our hotel room. There were triangles and hexagons to start with, then followed by some squares, swirls and circles. I kept redrawing until I finally settled on a set of shapes I liked. Then I did some research online into the cuts that I thought would best emphasise the shapes, such as the step cut for the hexagon.

I've always been a fan of the grassy green of peridot, especially in combination with rose gold, so that was definitely going to be in the design. Yellow is my favourite colour, so I wanted to squeeze in a yellow diamond somewhere. I'm also a fan of the sparkly rainbow colours in opals, so thought I could use that to tie the other gems together.

A couple of weeks later, Kas and I visited some of the gem stalls around Hatton Garden. I wanted to see how the gems would look next to each other, and that afternoon I painted some of my drawings and settled on the places for each of the gems.

We then contacted few jewellers and shared the drawings with them, but I found that not all understood the importance of either the shapes, cuts or the colours in the design. Often a lot of their suggestions brought us back to the ordinary engagement ring styles that I was trying to avoid, or a lack of access to the right gem cuts would mean changing a design element. I initially contacted Holts as their website had such a huge range of gems available, and wasn't focused on solitaire stones or white diamonds. I was really pleased when we met Alicja and I felt like her suggestions were practical and didn't compromise the design. She understood that the cuts and colours where important and spent time looking for the right stones. That was integral to the success!

For example, I love the opal that we chose. It has subtle fiery red and yellow flecks on the side that is closest to the peach sapphire, and green and blue flecks on the side closest to the peridot. It ties together the colours of the two gems, and the smooth surface provides a contrast to the angular cuts of the stones. It also gives me something to marvel at every day.

Once the stones were chosen, we gave the go ahead to create the ring. I was really nervous on collection day, having never designed jewellery before I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I was ever so happy with the outcome. It's better than I had imagined, and I still spend time looking at it every day.

We returned to Holts to get our wedding rings and again were very happy with the outcome. I love that mine was handmade so it is entirely unique. We were a little pushed for time so we were pleased that the turn around was so quick and Alicja was very helpful with the resizing.

The outcome is that I'm already planning my next piece of jewellery! There are some beautiful earrings at Holts that have given me some inspiration for another design.... "