Saturday, January 9, 2010

The engagement ring series: the beginning

I’ve been getting a fair number of queries from men who are thinking of proposing to their girlfriends. Their e-mails range from the confused to the intimidated to exasperated undertones of "All the trouble for THIS!?" I usually have loads of fun talking with them because they have a self-deprecating sense of humour - an unspoken "we both know why we're doing this. I love her deeply although this is the equivalent of pulling my teeth out."

Anyway, given my conversations with them, I thought I’d compile a bunch of questions that I’ve most frequently come across and hopefully that will make the process a lot less intimidating. The answers run quite long though, so I’ll be breaking them up into a series of blog entries.

How long do I need and how do I go about the process?
It all depends on how much research you’re comfortable with settling on. Some would prefer 3 months of personal intensive research while others are comfortable with acquiescing to the designer’s recommendations based on broad strokes of their girlfriend’s personality.

Personally, I’ve done engagement projects that have taken less than a month’s work. The client and I brainstormed over one e-mail where he flagged out certain pictures based on what he thought she’d like. We had one 2-hour consultation over gchat, and viola, everything was settled. No mock-ups, no secondary steps.

The process for most clients are similar but a little lengthier. Generally speaking, we have a preliminary consult that’s extremely casual. We either chat online or over the phone whereby I get a sense of the girl’s aesthetics, her stature (if she’s petite, she typically shouldn’t wear anything more than 2 carats for eg), and most practically, his budget as that would allow me to quickly focus on what can be done.

The first step typically involves choosing an appropriate loose gem. Following which, I get the client to flag out some pictures from various websites that I think would suit the couple. From the pictures he flags out, I generally start to form a very clear picture of what would work.

I do a mock-up based on these pictures flagged out and make changes, if any. That’s basically the end of the consultative process as we go about actualising the concept. It usually take about 5-7 weeks from this point if the design is a complex one, and shorter if it’s a fairly simple one.

Next topic: “What kind of metal should I use? And what is the difference?”


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