Last summer, I designed the most important piece of jewellery I have ever made: my own engagement ring. Designing your own engagement ring may sound unusual to some people. However, for me as someone who is very creative, it was the most beautiful, romantic and appreciative gift that another person has ever given me. Last summer, when my fiancé C. wanted to carefully figure out what kind of ring or stone shape I would like, he quickly realised that with a jewellery designer as a girlfriend, he could only lose when it came to choosing an engagement ring. He asked me what I would think about designing a ring for myself. With a mutual grin on our lips, knowing where our journey would take us, I was both touched and thrilled by this question. I had never expected that this could be a possibility. To have a partner who so appreciates my passion for design, my perfectionism and my knowledge of jewellery is simply something very special. So I could hardly wait to make the first sketches and ideas. In this blog post I would like to tell you about my design process and in particular raise awareness about lab-grown diamonds.
The design symbolism of my engagement ring
Being able to express my feelings for C. through a jewellery design and to create something that I will wear forever was an incredibly emotional but also very educational time. When I started with the first sketches, a design that I really wanted to incorporate into the ring immediately came to mind. The first time C. told me he loved me was at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco. At that time, as I gazed from the hotel balcony onto the public square of the Casino Monte Carlos, a beautiful shape on a façade caught my eye, which I still associate with that moment today - the logo of the Casino Monte-Carlos, which depicts our initials MC intertwined. I was therefore looking for a simple but elegant way to integrate this symbolism into the design. For this reason, I designed a trellis frame that forms the lines of our initials. For a trellis setting you need three stones. And because I have always liked an oval cut, I surrounded it with two heart-cut diamonds to symbolise our love for each other.
The transition from mined to lab-grown diamonds
In the next step, the ratios of the stones had to be calculated with a precision of millimetres. This led to an insanely extensive learning process that revolved around the topics of colour, clarity, cut, polish and symmetry of diamonds. As a designer, I already have experience with stone wholesalers and we deliberately didn't want to be ripped off when buying diamonds, so it was important for us to buy the stones ourselves and then have the design realised by a jeweller we trusted. Since C. and I are both entrepreneurs ourselves, we were quite surprised - if not frustrated - by the lack of transparency in the diamond industry. At the beginning of this phase, I was convinced that a natural diamond would be more authentic, better and more romantic than a lab diamond.
However, the longer and more detailed we looked into the subject, the more I became convinced that new mined diamonds coming onto the market today are no longer ethically justifiable and absolutely not in keeping with the times. The margins of luxury jewellers and the fairy tale of the "investment" for eternity were simply not justifiable for me and C.. And even at a diamond dealer recommended through friends, we had an unbelievable revelation. Quality diamonds usually have a verified certificate number. After viewing a stone, out of curiosity I checked the certificate number in one of our diamond wholesale platforms that we had gained access to. The dealer had told us that she would only add a 10% brokerage fee to the original price of the stone as a friendship price. After entering the number, I immediately found the stone that we had seen ourselves just an hour before and it turned out that her margin was actually not 10% but 70%. It was just shocking to uncover lies and margins and even more shocking to think how many people are tricked into believing they are buying a rare, unique, quality product. Where diamonds actually come from and through which hands they have passed before is not even considered in this aspect.
After many of these experiences and some considerations, it was clear to me that I would not want to wear a naturally mined diamond or, in case of doubt, perhaps even blood diamonds on my hand. Besides the ethical aspect, however, there are many other reasons and positive arguments in favour of lab diamonds. Supply chains are transparent and therefore make the origin 100% traceable. Once you have decided on the budget you want to spend on a stone, you can choose a much more beautiful colour, clarity, brilliance or even size at lab-grown Diamonds. The look of these stones, in short, is simply better. This consideration makes a lot of sense for a piece of jewellery that you wear every day and for a long time. The current highest colour quality of diamonds is at the letter D, then E, then F and so on (descending). This rating is set on the assumption that one day there may be diamonds that are even higher than D in colour quality. In this case, a higher grade would possibly be set at the letter C one day. A high quality diamond should ideally be rated 3 times Excellent, (condition: symmetry, cut, polish) by GIA and be optically white (condition: colour D, E, F). But even here there are other criteria that further define the nature of the diamond and determine its value. All criteria are almost never mentioned or deliberately used for profit by classical jewellers.
After all this acquired knowledge, my personal aim was never to create the most expensive ring, but simply the most visually beautiful and highest quality ring that I can love and wear with a clear conscience for the rest of my life. As a designer to whom social responsibility is important, the decision to use GIA-certified, lab-grown diamonds was 100% correct. In my own company MASCHALINA, all jewellery is produced under fair conditions in social workshops in Vienna and this moral approach is a personal conviction for me, which I also live privately. The joy of being able to wear a ring with a fair stone that symbolises the special love between C. and me is immense. I can hardly wait for the moment when C. and I celebrate our wedding and thus officially become a family. This ring symbolises from now and forever our unique love, respect and appreciation for each other!
written by Mascha Lina Borodin