Not all designers work individually with couples to customize wedding rings, but sometimes galleries that represent those designers will serve as liaison. This allows designers who prefer to work independently to benefit from the demand for customized wedding rings and for couples to end up with a favorite designer’s work as a wedding ring, possibly tweaked slightly to taste or even using supplied stones.
My own ring was made with four diamonds from an eternity band my husband’s grandmother wore. I love the fact that my sisters-in-law all wear rings set with stones from that same ring. It seems to me that in the best world, marriage is about more than just the union of two people, it’s also about a union of families. We wrote our vows to reflect that. Why shouldn’t our wedding rings?
I also like that even though the diamonds match, each of our rings is unique. I had mine channel-set in a simple, modern setting. One of my sisters-in-law had hers designed by a jeweler who owns a gallery on Cape Cod. Hers is delicate and feminine, which suits her.
If you spot a wedding ring you like in a gallery that specializes in studio jewelry, it’s worth asking if the designer makes custom rings. Even designers like Todd Reed and Alex Sepkus will often design around supplied stones.
Not all designers and studio jewelers are open to custom work, however. If you really love Pat Flynn’s jewelry, for example, you’ll probably have to settle for a ring he’s already made. You can rest assured it will be unique.
Flynn prefers to let galleries handle his ring orders. Because his rings often combine diamonds and precious metals with wrought iron, they appeal to men as well as women, and many buy them as wedding bands.
Occasionally, a fan will talk him into designing a custom ring, using supplied stones, but he often regrets taking those commissions. “Guiding clients in the right direction takes a certain skill and a certain confidence, the ability to tell people what you want to make and then convince them that’s what they want,” he says. “I’m not really good at that so I shy away. I prefer building work for myself, sending it to galleries and letting them put in out in the world.”
He does occasionally give in to a request from friends, even though he usually sweats it out. “Frequently, the piece ends up being an amazing thing. I’m working with materials I don’t normally work with and that can turn into something quite remarkable, with a different scale and presence. It’s nice to push yourself sometimes, just give it a go and see what happens.”
He recently designed wedding rings for a friend and his wife that turned out beautifully, and everyone was happy. “It was a very pleasant experience,” Flynn says. “I have friends and clients who have worn my rings for a really long time and that’s a special thing.”
Best bet for couples who don’t happen to be close personal friends of the artist? Order rings through Twist, an online gallery that represents Flynn’s work, along with Cathy Waterman, Lisa Jenks, and a lot of other talented designers.
Wedding rings reinvented: customizing for couples (Jacob Albee)