Now it’s on to the small but expensive stuff: the ring.
We were under the impression that you had two engagement ring choices. One: buy something and hope she likes it. Two: propose sans ring, let her be a part of the ring-choosing process.
We were wrong, of course. There’s a third option: loaner engagement rings. Jewellery designer Tamara Kronis of Studio1098 spoke to us about the idea:
What exactly is a “loaner engagement ring”?
Studio1098 specializes in making unique and interesting engagement rings. Sometimes, a client has a time crunch where there isn’t enough time before the proposal to make a custom ring. That happens a lot around the holidays, or around Valentine’s Day. Other times, a client want to surprise a client with a proposal, but wants his fiancée-to-be to be involved in the design process.
In either case, we lend the client a “placeholder engagement ring” that works within their budget, and that has as many of the custom features they’re looking for as possible. That way, they can have all the fun of proposing without any of the stress of worrying that they have compromised on design. After the proposal, the couple brings the ring back and we go from there to make the perfect custom engagement ring for them.
An example: This December, we worked with a couple who were trying to pull off a whirlwind engagement in the last week before the holidays. He really liked a particular custom ring on my website that I happened to have a version of in the studio. The thing was that the centre stone in the ring I had in the studio wasn’t quite what they were looking for (it was a Moissanite and they wanted a diamond). We had time to select a diamond and change it, but the resulting ring would have been final sale, or at least a commitment to work with whatever diamond they selected.
She really loved the ring, but everything was happening so quickly that she wasn’t sure it was exactly what she wanted and I was worried that they would regret doing things so quickly. So, we loaned the Moissanite ring to them over the holidays to give her a chance to wear it for a bit before deciding what to do. I’ll work with them over the next few weeks to figure out whether we’re going to put a diamond in the setting instead of the Moissanite, make a new ring in the same style with a larger (or smaller) centre diamond, or do something completely different. Either way, they got to enjoy “being engaged with a ring” over the holidays, and will be completely confident that the ring she wears for the rest of her life (hopefully) is the perfect one for her.
Another example: A client this fall was sure he wanted to make an engagement ring with an oval blue sapphire but wasn’t completely sure his girlfriend was going to like the design we developed as much as he did, and he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to make the ring in white gold or yellow gold. He was also planning to propose on a trip and wasn’t sure he wanted to take a sapphire engagement ring with him where they were going. The solution? I lent him a completely fake ring with a cubic in it for the proposal, along with computer renderings of the ring we were planning to make. He had a blast proposing, she loved the design we’d come up with as it was, and we’re in the process of making it now—in white gold, which is what she preferred.
Is there a deposit involved?
Yes. If the client is going to propose with one of our studio engagement rings, they have to provide a deposit to cover the cost of that ring in case they decide to keep it. For the completely fake rings, the client provides a deposit of $250 in case they lose it or decide not to move forward for whatever reason.
How does a loaner ring compare ascetically to a regular engagement ring?
Aesthetically, it’s up to the client. Most clients choose to propose with something that’s going to have the look and feel of the ring they ultimately want to custom make. The truly fake rings work better for clients who are proposing abroad and don’t want to take a valuable engagement ring with them.
How common is the practice of using a loaner ring?
It’s not really common but it’s becoming more so—guys who feel like they’ve run out of time often end up settling for a ready-made ring from a big-box jeweller like Tiffany’s because they think that’s their only option. I make lots of wedding bands for people who wish they’d known there was another choice for their engagement rings.
Is it terribly common for men to buy an engagement ring only to return it for another at the behest of their fiancée?
Nope. It’s something guys really worry about, but it almost never happens. Most guys know their partner’s taste better than they think they do!