I love my engagement ring – but I do feel a little bit sad that I didn’t get the chance to experience purchasing one.How much to spend and what to look for in a diamond engagement ring
It was basically my one chance to be in a room filled with diamonds and I missed it.
So when jewellers Vashi offered me the chance to see how custom engagement rings are made, I was thrilled.
The number of customers choosing to custom-make their engagement rings – rather than buying one off the shelf – is rising, and Vashi’s founder and owner, Vashi Dominguez, explains that ‘it’s driven by the internet, because when you go online you can customise, pretty much on every website.’
You can choose the type of diamond – the cut, carat, and the other 4 Cs – and choose the setting for your ring online, but you don’t get the experience of selecting your diamond/s in the flesh, and watching it being made in front of you.
That’s the service that Vashi and other custom ring shops offer.
My trip started with a chat with Vashi Dominguez in one of the plush consultation rooms where they discuss options with customers, before I headed up to the shop floor.
There, one of the store’s ‘Guardian Angels’ greeted me and started talking me through the creation of my ring.
I was given a choice of settings and a choice of small diamonds to put on the ring.
My trademark indecision kicked in immediately. ‘Umm… what would you recommend?’ I asked timidly.
If you were shopping for an actual engagement ring, you’d probably already have some ideas in mind, and your Guardian Angel would be able to talk you through how best to execute your ideas, and explain the different diamond options.
Getting a custom-made engagement ring doesn’t mean designing the whole thing from scratch yourself (although you could, if you really wanted).
More commonly, you customise as you go, choosing the setting, the metal, and the type of stones you want to include.
By the time you’ve finished all the customisation, you have a unique ring.
My Guardian Angel – who had the steady hands of a surgeon – balanced the diamonds loose on the ring to give me an idea of the finished look.
Once we had agreed on the placement, he accompanied me downstairs to the diamond laboratory, where Vashi’s Alchemists live – the guys who turn metal and rocks into the engagement ring of your dreams.
I watched the ring take shape before my eyes, as the Alchemist embedded the diamonds into the ring in the positions I had chosen.
I even had a go at peering at the ring under the magnifying goggles, getting to appreciate the minute details.
Once it was finished, the Alchemist cleaned and polished it up for me and I was left with my very own custom-made ring – less than an hour after I started the process with the Guardian Angel.
‘So by the time he’s finished [customising the ring],’ Vashi Dominguez explains, ‘your boyfriend or husband will come and say ‘darling, I made this for you’. And we believe that’s more powerful than saying ‘I bought this for you’.’
Customisation is very affordable these days – pretty much the same price as an off-the-shelf option – and it leaves you with a nice sense of pride at the end – even though it was the experts who did all the work.
The woman receiving the ring probably won’t love it anymore than they would an off-the-shelf ring, but the person who helped to make it will get to feel extra smug whenever someone admires it.
And, as much as it’s uncouth to admit it, engagement rings are at least a LITTLE bit about the bragging rights.