A few blog posts ago you may have read that I was engaged (yay!). It was a super sweet proposal and I couldn’t have asked for anything more! Being the wedding planner that I am, I got what I had hoped for – a “loaner” ring so that I could create my own custom designed engagement ring. Not a lot of ladies get the chance to create the ring of their dreams, so I thought I’d share the process with you here. I had my ring made at the Fair Trade Jewellery Company, an ethical jeweller in Toronto that I had wrote about in a past blog post.

I had something uncommon and very specific in mind… a sapphire engagement ring. I’ll tell you more about the specifics of the design challenge later but first, a bit more about why I chose a sapphire. Though I love the sparkle of diamonds, I had seen so many in my wedding planning industry that I wanted something a little different. Plus I love blues and purples, so I figure getting a coloured stone would be the way to my heart. It also doesn’t hurt that sapphires happen to cost substantially less than diamonds (even though a naturally coloured sapphire is actually more rare than diamonds).

It’s quite difficult to find inspiration for something that doesn’t really exist anywhere else…

Inspiration for the ring

My first consultation was with Ryan Taylor, the co-founder of FTJCo. I had a very specific vision in mind for this ring and I knew his quirky and meticulous personality would be the perfect fit! I brought in a page of images that I had as inspiration (it was actually quite difficult to find inspiration for something that doesn’t really exist anywhere else!). Here were a couple of the images I had found:

My custom engagement ring - finding ring inspiration

Choosing my stone

Since they would design the ring around the stone, they brought in a number of sapphires for me to choose from based on the budget, shape and colour I was looking for. I asked for sapphires that were cushion or oval shaped and in a medium violet hue, something in between blue and purple. It was like Christmas opening up those packages of sapphires one by one. I found one I really gravitated towards in the pile of sapphires and from there the designing was underway.

My custom engagement ring - choosing my sapphire stone

The design challenge

Not only did I ask for a pretty ring with a uniquely shaped stone, but my one big request was for a wedding band to sit flush with the engagement ring.

This proved to be quite the structural challenge because the stone I selected was a bit larger and longer than most stones, and these usually were designed with a larger base support (looks like a box) and doesn’t allow for a band to sit flush next to it. Many boyfriends buy engagement rings without the thought of what wedding band might match it (so men, take note!). I told him right from the start that one thing that is a must is for the wedding band to sit flush next to it.

It was quite the unique challenge because he needed to elevate it enough to allow for a wedding band but also not for it to be too bulky. It also needed to not tip over so a teeny bit of extra weight had to be accounted for at the base of the ring.

Here was the first AutoCAD drawing Ryan created just to give me a general idea of what it would look like. Looked ok to me, so I said, “go ahead!”

My custom engagement ring - seeing the autoCAD drawings

Seeing the wax mold

He then created a wax mould out of the first rendering to again see how the general direction of the ring would look like. Up until then the drawings are fairly abstract so this was helpful. I could see it and touch it, and, most importantly, I could see how it looked like with the stone on it.

My custom engagement ring - Seeing the wax mold

Final sizing

Ryan made another rendering (and I’m sure a ton more minor revisions before it got to this point) and another wax mold for final approval. This was also the final sizing of the ring before they finished and polished it off. It was exciting to see the stone on a gold band, it was starting to look real! Once approved, they finished it off and sent it to the bead setter for the small side diamonds to be put in.

My custom engagement ring - Seeing the stone with the metal mold

My ring!

And then the magical day came… my ring was ready!

My custom diamond and sapphire engagement ring - the finished ring

My custom engagement ring - with Ryan Taylor Fair Trade Jewellery Company
Above: Me and my fiance with Ryan Taylor, co-founder of The Fair Trade Jewellery Company.

It was way better than expected and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. Isn’t it pretty?! I LOVE the ring and it was such a unique experience to be a part of the designing process from start to finish. I definitely recommend considering the custom process from FTJCo for your engagement ring. Not only is it an ethical jeweller but you come out with a custom piece that is one-of-a-kind.

**See Rebecca Chan’s mention in Macleans about her engagement ring here.

By the way I am taking 2013 bookings for weddings – planning, coordinating, proposals, you name it. Please email me to set up a time to talk about it. Would love to hear from you – weddings[at] rebeccachan.ca

Find more of Rebecca’s favourites at her new Shop.


Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.