This fun story is long overdue! On May 27, 2022, Chris proposed with a picnic at a park in Nashville. It was so perfectly “us” and a story for another time. This post is all about creating my heirloom engagement ring and hopefully enlightening for anyone considering a non-diamond engagement ring.
We were already talking engagement and wedding for a few months prior to the proposal, mostly in loose terms. I initially told Chris that he was welcome to pick out whatever he wanted for my ring. Then, a few weeks later in a panic I had a change of heart, I wanted to design my ring with him. Chris was super understanding and that started an exciting process.
We spoke with a custom jeweler to get an idea of the process and prices. She talked through all my questions and this was a really valuable place to start. However, right as we were about to settle on a gemstone she picked out, Chris shared that he actually had an heirloom ring that may interest me.
Shock, excitement, all the emotions and then the realization that this heirloom has been in our room for who knows how long.
He brought down his Nonna’s 50th wedding anniversary ring, a STUNNING teal stone set in a simple gold band. He handed it to me and it fit like a glove. When he told me it was mine if I wanted it, I was in total shock. Why? Because this image was saved to my Pinterest for YEARS before even knowing Chris existed and here I was staring at a nearly identical ring. I see you, Universe.
It was an easy yes that I wanted to wear such a beautiful and sentimental heirloom. What an honor to carry on the family legacy in this way! So thus began the search for someone who could take this heirloom and turn it into something that fit us.
Finding Our Jeweler
I wanted to work with someone local and after some searching for jewelers who specialized in heirloom re-works, I found L.Priori in Philadelphia. After looking at their work, scouring reviews and stalking their Instagram, I knew they were the right fit.
From the initial inquiry and appointment to the finished product, I cannot say enough about working with them and specifically our designer, Sojeoung.
Designing the Ring
Chris and I didn’t know what to expect going into that first meeting. I was nervous and excited, it felt surreal in many ways. We sat down with Sojeoung and she inspected our heirloom. I knew I wanted something timeless and classic. The “oldest new ring” as I put it. Sojeoung had recently been exploring Edwardian styles and started sketching out an idea for a design. Before we knew it, she was 3D rendering something right before our eyes.
She perfectly captured everything I hoped for in my ring. It was classic, unique and regal. What I didn’t expect was all the thoughtful details we added to the ring. We pulled some elements from the original setting, added some beaded millwork for a 1920’s feel, and chose a flat band for a modern touch. This was the beauty of the custom process, each detail is carefully chosen to create something unique to you.
The Process of Creating an Heirloom Engagement Ring
About two weeks later, we received our 3D rendering. This allowed us to see the ring in 360 degrees, such a neat experience! At this stage we could make any adjustments before moving forward.
Selecting Side Stones
Once we settled on our design, it was time to select the side stones. I specifically requested Montana sapphires and our jeweler was able to bring in a parcel of the perfect pear shaped stones. Sojeoung mentioned that they typically don’t find Montana sapphires in that size because it’s smaller than average. However, their source happened to have an entire parcel of the exact size we needed, kismet!
As a designer, selecting a color palette for my ring was so much fun! We had the best time testing and trying different tones until we landed on a gradient that would perfectly compliment the center stone.
This was by far the most surprising and unique part of the process: the wax mold. I have never heard of this before but it was so helpful to actually SEE the ring before production. A few weeks after selecting stones, we went back to L.Priori to see the wax mold. It was sized to my finger and the exact scale of the ring.
This is when things started to get REAL. Here I was wearing a *not actually real but feels very real* version of my ring. Once we approved it, it was off to production which takes anywhere from 6-10 weeks. At this point in the process I was bowing out. From here it would be a surprise.
L.Priori made the entire process seamless. From prompt communication to thoughtfully listening to our needs, they created a 5-star experience. I especially appreciated how they handled the budget aspect of the process. I was excused from the room so Sojeoung could chat with Chris privately about budget and when selecting side stones she was transparent about price before we selected our stones. The ring buying process can be intimidating, heirloom or not, and I appreciated how much care L.Priori takes to ensure their clients are not only happy with the designs but comfortable with the process as well.
The day of our proposal happens to also be Chris’ birthday. We had decided to do a picnic and unbeknownst to me, he would be proposing. Our morning started off per usual, we walked to the coffee shop down the road. On the way Chris asked me what I was planning to wear to our picnic. I threw out a few options and I said “ooh fancy picnic”. Again, thought nothing of a proposal.
We stop by the local bakery and pick up some goodies for our picnic then head home.
We get home and I’m getting ready. At one point I poke my head out and Chris looks back as he’s packing the picnic basket smiling. At this point I’m starting to get a tiny bit suspicious but it was his birthday and I kept pushing the thought out. “There’s no way he would propose on his birthday”.
Please enjoy these texts between my best friend and I leading up to the picnic:
As soon as we arrived to our picnic, we unpacked everything. Chris told me to open the pastry box and inside was the sweetest letter and the ring. Throughout our relationship, we’ve exchanged letters. It was my perfect proposal: just the two of us, delicious food and wine and no one else around. There wasn’t a big show, no public display, just a quiet moment that we reveled in.
Soon after I FaceTimed both of our parents. My mom screamed, his cried. Later that night we celebrated Chris’ birthday and our engagement at Henrietta Red in Nashville. It was a perfect day and such a sweet start to this incredible engagement season. More coming soon on our wedding planning and how we are doing things differently!