Carat? Cut? Setting? There are plenty of choices to sort through when it comes to engagement rings. Here are a few of the jewelry designers that couples turn to when it comes time to choose “the one”—the engagement ring.
Photo: Kelly Benvenuto
When she was looking for pieces for her own wedding, Hannah Florman had trouble finding a jeweler she wanted to work with. Instead, she ended up collaborating directly with a couple of manufacturers. Soon, Florman ditched her gig as a lawyer, took some courses and met as many dealers as she could on her way to setting up shop as a private jeweler. Now, she’s empowering customers in the same way, giving them a Diamond 101 education, so they can make more informed decisions about which stone to pick. “For each client, I source six to 10 stones that meet their taste and budget,” Florman says. For Tara’s emerald-cut engagement ring, Florman tapped into the east-to-west setting on a 14-karat yellow gold band, which gives it some extra character. “I find it’s most popular with clients who aren’t drawn to side stones, a halo or diamonds along the shank, but are still looking for something a bit different.”
In the dregs of a winter storm, Luke asked Tara to go for a walk. They bundled up and went out to the empty streets amid the wind and snow. Once they got to a pedestrian bridge, Luke dropped to a knee and asked Tara to marry him. Forgoing a similar snow globe setting for their nuptials, they were married in August.
Photo: Craig Parkin
For Sophie Hughes, who’s been designing jewelry since 2009 and opened her Ore boutique in 2013, it’s the perceived flaws in this particular type of diamond—a smoky gray stunner known as a salt and pepper—that first caught her eye while searching through hundreds of stones for this custom 18-karat gold engagement ring. “Even though salt and pepper diamonds were originally industry castoffs because they didn’t fit the ‘flawless’ mold, I love them because, just like my rings reflect the process, the galaxy of inclusions in salt and peppers reveal evidence of their formation,” Hughes says of this ethically sourced stone from Canada. Her boutique offers a balance of ready-to-wear and custom offerings, but Hughes’ client, Matt, was involved in designing this surprise for his bride-to-be, Sarah. Trained as a metalsmith at MassArt, Hughes approaches jewelrymaking from a sculptural perspective, using hammers, torches and other tools to craft pieces made of sustainable materials that evoke a sense of timeless simplicity. “I think there’s a certain poetry to revealing the maker’s hand in the final piece, and to the individualistic character a rough-hewn texture brings to an otherwise refined piece of jewelry,” she says.
Matt originally planned to propose on New Year’s Eve during a getaway to Portland, Maine—a destination special to him and Sarah—but his excitement and nerves moved up his timeline. On a snowy Dec. 30, the couple returned to their Airbnb after dinner at Eventide Oyster Co., and Matt popped the question—and some celebratory bubbly after Sarah said yes.
681 Tremont St., Boston (617-247-7426) sophiehughes.com
For the past decade, sisters Megan and Moria Flynn have crafted custom designs for their legion of devoted clients out of their flagship M. Flynn boutique in the South End. The duo works together, utilizing a software program and sourcing the appropriate stones for each project. In some instances, customers supply their own stones and jewelry in hopes of incorporating them into a new piece. “I always want to understand the stories behind the jewelry the client is bringing me and why it’s so important,” Megan says. “It’s really that story that influences the design.” That was the case when the Flynns collaborated with Tanya and Dave to create an engagement ring using diamonds from the bride’s late mother and grandmother. Repurposing stones from a pair of studs and a solitaire ring, the Flynns set the three diamonds in a rose gold halo to elevate the center stone as the focal point of the piece. “I think this ring is so bold, meaningful and full of glamour,” Megan says. “I love remake projects like this because jewelry connects us to the people we love.”
Tanya and Dave had already planned an intimate New Orleans ceremony when they began collaborating with the Flynns to create the ring. The couple got hitched in a courtyard in the French Quarter before enjoying a brunch at Brennan’s—Tanya’s grandmother’s favorite restaurant.
40 Waltham St., Boston (617-292-0079) mflynnjewelry.com
Photo: Kelly Benvenuto
Matthew Gann started working at his grandfather’s downtown jewelry store when he was 13, pitching in on Saturdays and learning how to pick out stones for customers. Decades later, as co-owner of Joseph Gann Jewelers, the designer’s still spending time to make sure he selects the correct conflict-free diamonds. Gann estimates about half of his engagement rings are designed from scratch, while many others tweak a detail or two to make it feel more personal for the couple. He even makes wax models on a 3-D printer for some customers like Rama and Paul, who came to the store with a picture of an engagement ring that they liked before Gann got to work, suggesting a milgrain near the center stone. “The milgrain edge around the halo was done by hand. It gives the ring a touch of the old-world style that makes it timeless,” Gann says. Despite the 64 diamonds on the band and 20 diamonds on the halo, he classifies this ring as simpler than some. “I consider the more ornate rings the ones with a vintage design or hand engraving, which we still do a lot of today.”
Woodstock, Vermont, was always a special place for Rama and Paul, but when he took her on a surprise trip there during Labor Day weekend, it became even more special. Paul popped the question in the garden at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The wedding is set for July 2020.
387 Washington St., Boston (617-426-4932) josephgann.com