Stone Fox Bride
Bling It On
The Lowdown on Low-Key Proposals + Rings
The day after M asked me to marry him, I went to work at my fancy cosmetics job, where I was as a copywriter. I remember it was a Friday, which meant that we were allowed to wear jeans! Yay! Huge deal. The office environment was super corporate and buttoned-up—we were definitely not encouraged to share the details of our personal lives with one another.
Still, I couldn’t resist sharing the news with my coworker.
“Guess what?” I whispered over the partition between our cubicles.
“I’m engaged! We’re getting married.”
She stood up fast, eyes wide, and grabbed my hand. Only there was nothing to see! My finger was totally naked.
“M didn’t propose with a ring.”
“He just asked. There was no ring.”
She sat back down, eyes returning to her computer screen.
And that was that.
Her reaction wasn’t anomalous. The rest of the day, whenever I told someone the news, the first thing they’d do was grab my hand excitedly. But once they realized it lacked any bling, the conversation ended. It was almost like the proposal wasn’t important. Shit, who cared about everlasting love if there was nothing sparkly to corroborate its existence!
I think M got the memo, because one week later, he got me a ring. From a pawn shop in Daytona, Florida . . . but a ring, nonetheless. He was with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, shadowing him for a story. M is a sports and car journalist and editor, which means that he’s always traveling the world to report on races and drivers. He surprised me with the ring while I was getting a pedicure, got down on one knee, popped the question officially, and then we kissed. “You were shaking so much,” he told me later. “So overcome with emotion.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was the spa massage chair set to HIGH!
The ring itself was not amazing. It was darling and sweet because M (and Carl) had picked it out, but the actual diamond—let’s just say it was a teeny-tiny chip set in a super high prong and totally not my style. So a few weeks later, I asked M if he’d mind if I designed my own and he was fine with it. To be honest, I think what he said was “Sure, babe” with his eyes glued to a YouTube tutorial called “How To Smoke Meat.”
So I set off for the diamond district to see what was available in my budget. My funds were limited. However, good Jewish girl that I am, I wanted a huge diamond. What to do? Thank God for raw grey diamonds, which are diamonds in their natural state. Uncut, un-polished, heavily imperfect, and much less expensive than their clear, polished counterpart. But still gorgeous. Once I discovered them, I was hooked! I found a loose-diamond dealer who had a stash, then chose a five-carat one to set in rose gold pavé. When the ring finally materialized weeks later, it was stunning. And huge. And it didn’t break the bank. Years later, I sold it to a Stone Fox Bride client. Now it’s our signature piece. We remake it all the time and have sold dozens to Stone Fox grooms everywhere.
After my nana died, a beautiful, dusty emerald was among the jewelry dispersed among her eleven grandchildren. It sat in my jewelry box for several years, until I reset it in a vintage yellow gold setting—and used two diamond earring studs as the side stones. I wore it for a year before I tucked it away and wore a vintage gypsy band for a while. After that I wore a Brazilian emerald ring that my friend Scosha designed for me, inlaid with my children’s birthstones. Then I went back to Nana’s emerald set with the two side stones and turned it into a solitaire with pavé and made the stones into two separate rings for my kids. I know I sound like a nut; I guess that the combination of not being a particularly sentimental person AND working in the wedding ring industry has made me pretty unattached when it comes to gems. I know this is unusual. I’m not saying that you, too, should adopt my what-me-care attitude when it comes to expensive heirloom pieces. But I do want you to keep in mind that it’s just a ring! Just because he proposed with it, doesn’t mean it’s attached to your finger for the rest of your life.
Jewelry Designer Anna Sheffield on Rose Gold, Coco Chanel, and Concentric Circles
On the Coolest Ring She Ever Designed: “I had a client who emailed me from Hong Kong requesting a custom engagement ring. He discovered me online and said that my ‘classic with a twist’ aesthetic seemed perfect for his girlfriend. I ended up creating an incredible five-carat emerald-cut diamond ring with beautiful trapezoid trillions on either side. It was deco-inspired and platinum and pavé all over. So pretty. We never even met in person.”
On the Second Coolest Ring She Ever Designed: “I once made an engagement ring based on a painting someone had made—an abstract circle inside another circle. When she came for our appointment she brought the painting, and explained that it had been a gift to her girlfriend, that she had painted it to represent their love. I re-created the image in a concentric circle of tiny black and white diamonds with one slightly larger diamond accent in gold. I think the most beautiful thing about all engagement and ceremonial rings is what they end up meaning to the people who give them to each other. In this case, the couple knew so well what that symbol was for them—and it was a joy to take this kind of approach in the way I design.”
On Stones + Metals: “I love working with rose and yellow gold. Gold is incredibly reflective—ancient Mayan mirrors were actually made out of gold. It’s such a beautiful material and it’s wonderful to solder and form.”
On Designing a Ring for Her Fantasy Bride: “I would love to make Coco Chanel’s wedding ring. She was such a beast—she came from nothing and she worked so hard to change people’s ideas of what women were allowed to do. The center stone would definitely be a black pearl.”
Fine Jeweler Soraya Silchenstedt on Pink Diamonds, Platinum, and Marilyn Monroe
On the Coolest Ring She Ever Designed: “One of my closest friends went through a bad breakup and she asked me to design a ring for her. She was having a really hard time so I wanted to make something that was protective and empowering and that would bring her good fortune. I came up with a moonstone and diamond cabochon ring. Moonstone is a luminous gem that attracts peaceful energy and brings about balance.”
On Her Favorite Couple: “I designed a ring for my friend’s girlfriend who is a singer. He sent me a link to her music and we spent six months talking on the phone about all the things he loved about her, trips they had taken to the Caribbean, and their meditation practice. We ended up making a pear-shaped diamond in a platinum setting. We wanted it to feel strong and delicate—like diamond strings on a harp.”
On Stones + Metals: “I love working with platinum. I love the color—it’s not too bright and it’s not too dull. Also, it’s soft and malleable so you can set softer stones in it, like emeralds. It has more flexibility than rose or white gold. I’m also in love with natural pink diamonds. I don’t like synthetic stones . . . I would rather use a slightly flawed stone than a treated one.”
On Designing a Ring for Her Fantasy Bride: “I wish I could have made a ring for Marilyn Monroe—something beautiful and simple that would have made her feel understood—something to give her a glimmer of hope. Maybe a thin pink diamond band. She wore a lot of big jewelry in her films—but once you stripped everything away she was very delicate and understated.”
Jewelry Designer Kathryn Bentley on Luminescence, Masculinity, and Matching Bands
On the Coolest Ring She Ever Designed: “The first engagement ring I made was inspired by a Georgian man’s ring that belonged to my tattoo artist friend. It was super masculine, yet it was beautiful and antique. My design was a luminescent octagon ring made with a rose-cut diamond, mounted as a solitaire, with a triangle of blue opal and pavé diamonds on each side, acting as the stone’s eyes.”
On Her Dream Ring: “If I were to get married I would wear a classic gold wedding band and I would want it to match my partner’s. Understated, durable, timeless—a perfect representation. There is truly nothing as chic as a European couple in matching thin bands.”
On Stones + Metals: “I generally look at different movements in art and jewelry and textiles and then hone in on it and reinterpret it with my own hand. I’m not a girly girl—I don’t give a rat’s ass about anything sparkly or blingy. I love beautiful artistic creations that look like they were sculpted with integrity.”
On Designing a Ring for Her Fantasy Bride: “I’d love to create matching bands for Susan Sontag and Annie Leibovitz. I’d hand-carve simple gold bands and line the interior with tiny diamonds.”
BLOOD FROM A STONE
Is that weird movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio the extent of your knowledge about blood diamonds? Read on for tips on how to ensure that the gem on your finger was sourced with integrity.
An ethical stone is one that:
•Has not financed a civil war (Historically, blood diamonds or conflict diamonds are stones mined in war zones and sold to finance war efforts. Diamonds mined during civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Republic of Congo have been given the label.)
•Did not, in the process of mining, disrupt the environment, use child labor, or compromise the safety of workers
•Went through the Kimberley Process (named after a city in South Africa) and is certified “conflict-free”
Word to the wise: If the person who sold you your stone is not able to provide information and paperwork about the stone’s origins, then chances are it was not sourced ethically.
Gemologist Olivia Landau recommends having your ring cleaned by a professional jeweler at least once a year. “If you have micro-pavé all around the diamond,” she says, “get it checked every six months to make sure everything is tight and secure. In addition to getting it professionally cleaned once or twice a year, clean your ring at home with a toothbrush and mild soap. I would also advise against excessive use of hand lotion because you can end up with gross buildup in the crevices.”
Rolling Stones: A Cautionary Tale
You know that idyllic image we all conjure up of the shiny satin pillow topped with two bands, tenderly carried down the aisle by an adorable kid? Isn’t that the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “ring bearer”? Stone Fox Bride Julie Schumacher Grubbs’s mom thought the same thing. On the day of her wedding, the tiny vintage diamond pavé band was tied to a hand-sewn ring pillow with white embroidery and satin ribbons. But three minutes before the ceremony the ring slipped off and was nowhere to be found. “It was surreal,” says Julie. “It happened really fast.” After multiple flashlight searches, the band never turned up. “The experience sucked,” she says, “but it happened for a reason. It helped my husband and me figure out how we react in a crisis. In the end we just accepted it and didn’t freak out.”
It’s a Hard Rock Life
These Three Diamonds Had a Rough Start
“My husband Ben’s great-grandfather was a man named Laning Harvey. He worked for a bank and was a state senator in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He had a business and real estate holdings before the Depression and owned a white tie tuxedo that had five-carat diamonds for each of the buttons. When the Depression hit, he lost everything and had the diamonds made into rings that could be passed down.”
—Jenny Sedlis: married Grasmere Farm in Rhinebeck, New York
“Chris proposed to me in the grass under the Eiffel Tower with the vintage setting that my great-grandfather gave his first wife. The next afternoon we were having drinks on the houseboat we were staying in and after standing up to brush off my jeans, the ring slipped off my finger into the Seine. Chris dove into the thirty-eight-degree water but couldn’t find it! After telling our Airbnb hostess what had happened, she immediately called the fire department. Fifteen French firemen and two scuba divers searched all night long. Thirty buckets of mud later, we found the ring—then popped open a bottle of champagne with the firemen.”
—Kristen Hyers, married....TX to come....
“The round half-carat diamond in my engagement ring belonged to my grandfather who lived in a Polish shtetl. When the Nazi regime came into power, he and his family were hidden by a poor pastor and his wife. Eventually they got fake papers and fled, leaving a few belongings and the diamond engagement ring in the pastor’s house. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s wife and two daughters did not survive Auschwitz, but years later my grandfather returned to the pastor’s house and discovered that he was alive and had saved his belongings—including the ring. My grandfather moved to America, remarried, and had children. One of his children was my mother, who wore the diamond around her neck for forty years. She gave it to me on my twenty-sixth birthday, and it’s now the center stone of my engagement ring.”
—Alex Woolfson, married at the Onteora Mountain House in the Catskills
Will you marry Me?
A few months after SFB opened I started taking pictures of all my clients’ rings and asking them the details behind their proposals. SDoon Women fromn all over the world started submitteng the stories through email, and Voila—Five years later, We’ve ammassed over five thpusand original stories on our instagram. Check em out at @ stonefoxbride/#stonefoxrings
The Best Bling for Your Budget
How to Choose a Ring at Any Price Point
Let’s be honest: at the end of the day, budget is the factor that determines which ring will end up on your finger. Some guys adhere to the weird dogma (which actually comes from a De Beers ad campaign) that says the ring must cost two months’ salary, some propose with a family heirloom, some couples decide on a ring together, and some—as in my case—get engaged with no ring at all. My advice? Don’t stress. Your engagement ring is just a piece of jewelry—not a reflection of class, status, or prestige. And it will be gorgeous, no matter how much you choose to spend.