A collection of sage advice from ring guru Eve Alfillé, a designer who has been creating engagement rings for over 25 years, on how to wisely make one of the most meaningful purchases of your life.
a. Some precautionary notes on metals:
Jewelry metals are not hard– in fact they are very soft, 2 ½ to 3 on the Mohs scale, with diamonds at 10 and steel at around 6…but if well constructed and properly cared for, rings can last long enough to give a lifetime of meaning.
When it comes to delicate prong settings, platinum is favored as it will stay in place once set. Platinum has no ‘memory,’ so it will stay in place once set (gold tends to want to spring back, and white gold can also be brittle). That being said, even platinum prongs can be pushed aside by impact, sometimes imperceptibly, so it is good to periodically check the prongs. An easy check is to try and insert a thin piece of paper into the space between the metal prong and the stone– if it is able to slide between them, then the prong needs to be tightened.
What about sports, or working out with weights? Steel weights are much harder than the gold and platinum in the ring, and could bend the band. At the same time, most women don’t really want to take off their engagement ring. I would recommend wearing gym gloves, which feel so much better anyway while lifting weights!
If swimming regularly in chlorinated pools, please make sure that the gold is 18 karat, and not 14! Fourteen karat has only 58.5% gold vs. 75% for eighteen. If the ring is yellow gold, the common alloys are copper and silver in nearly equal proportions. But the combination of chlorine with the copper in gold, along with perspiration, often causes 14 karat rings to crack over time, whereas eighteen karat gold does not have this problem.
b. A few things to think about regarding design:
Is she a traditional girl who envisions a narrow band, perhaps with tiny diamonds in front, for her engagement ring? Or do you think she is more romantic, with perhaps tiny details of stylized carved leaves gracefully curving around the base of the diamond, like a thirteenth century princess? Is she more of a lover of architectural forms, straighter lines with defined angles? Or a lover of nature, and its gentle curves?
As you imagine, a ring can be simple, since the symbolism is in the diamond, but there are many ways to subtly interpret her inclinations, and I love being able to work on these! Are there some forms that have special meaning, like a particular flower, or any other symbols? …These could be incorporated as well.
c. What it takes to create a very comfortable ring:
If you look at women’s hands as they wear their engagement rings, you often see that the diamond is not staying centered: its weight tends to make it spin on the finger, sometimes all the way back– not good for the prongs, and annoying for the wearer…But it’s a round ring, and the stone makes it top-heavy, so of course it will spin!
Especially for those of us with wider knuckles, you have to measure each ring size at the knuckle…but then the ring is a bit loose at the base, hence the spinning. I have thought a lot about this, and came up with an answer which helps a lot (and which has other advantages) but it runs against custom.
Custom tells us that a ring has to be round. But the finger is not round: if you look at the base, it is rather flat in between each finger, and the overall cross-section of a finger is sort of a rounded square. Why not make the ring that shape? You gently twist it on, so that the longer diagonal easily passes over the knuckle, and then the ring will come to rest exactly as it should: without bulging between the fingers as a round ring does, and it will stay in place very well (unless it is very very cold in winter, and your finger has shrunk from the cold!).
Another refinement that I like to add is a gentle swelling called a ‘wave.’ It remains hidden inside of the ring at the back: you don’t really feel it, but it adds strength, helps act as a brake against twisting, and counterbalances the weight of the stone. Best of all, if the ring needs to be made a little larger later on, all we have to do is to pare down the wave– which takes minutes and costs nothing!
And, of course, I always want my rings to have very gentle inside edges: nothing too angular where it touches the skin.
…To Be Continued! Check our blog next time as we update with the second and final installment of “Eve’s Ring-Buying Guide” for more valuable advice on the topics such as ‘Considerations on diamond choice’ and ‘Private pleasures.’