Monday, December 14, 2009

Project Sunshine: A semi-secret engagement project

J was one of my clients who specifically told me he didn’t want a diamond and wanted a design that wasn’t “everybody else’s”. His was also an unconventional journey right from the start because his then-girlfriend, now-fiancee, M, was clued into the project. He wanted to co-create the ring with her, as a journey together of sorts. I loved the idea.

We settled on an unheated sapphire based on the reasons listed here. Of all the colours, M liked the blue-green sapphire tones best (coincidentally, so do I). It turned out that this particular shade was immensely hard and the difficulty was compounded by the fact that all three of us were fixated with a trilliant shape of at least 7mm in diameter and didn’t want to settle for anything else. After calls to over twenty contacts (who had also contacted their own contacts separately) and vetting what seemed like over hundreds of stones, we finally found it!

The stone wasn’t a perfect trilliant, in that the edges was curved, and the luster of the stone wasn’t maximised because the original cutter wanted to maxmise its carat weight in order to get the most amount of money out of it. However, I got my favourite lapidary artisan, an American man named John, to re-cut it. John’s an absolute genius with gemstones, coming from a family or artisans and having been working on his craft for more than 20 years. To date, he’s cut more than 12000 stones, typically high value ones with some pieces being collector stones that weigh over 800 carats.

The final stone weighed in at 1.49 ct and we got it certified to confirm that it was indeed unheated. It was also certified that the stone originated from the Ilagaga mine from Madagascar (a nice bonus of a sapphire as it’s typically impossible to certify where white diamonds originate from). Because of the unique nature of this particular sapphire rough, the stone had a rather shallow pavilion so John couldn’t facet it as much as he wanted. Again, it was one of the inherent idiosyncracies of a stone such as this, where they don’t typically come in large sized roughs.

The design process was a semi-secret between J and I. After initially consulting M about some conceptual looks, J and I took over. After many e-mails later, with specific, incredibly thoughtful ideas of what he thought M would like, we came up with this. Nothing frilly, nothing overly elaborate but nonetheless, a strongly design-driven piece to showcase the main stone to its best ability.

Three diamond prongs with milgrain bordering that kept the stone in place with the label’s asymmetrical shank in a half-eternity diamond band, again bordered with milgrain etchings on the side. The final look we were gunning for was something classic with a vintage twist – nothing overly glamorous or over-the-top luxe. J specified that he wanted M to have the choice to wear the ring everyday.

We labelled this secret mission “project sunshine” because the engraving he chose was simple: “only ‘sunshine!’” he said. I loved it, and more importantly, M wrote me to tell me she did too.

A job well done, J, if I dare say so myself. ;) Congratulations both of you, and may the wedding planning be smooth sailing. :)

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