The internet is a wonderful place.
I tend to spend more hours than I'd like to admit per day glued to Instagram or Facebook either interacting with our Gem Steady audience, scouring for inspiration, or falling into black holes of baby animal videos... Often times I even meet really cool people in the biz along the way.
Danielle Mainas Etra AKA @littlebirdtoldyou is someone I've been following for a while, and recently had the pleasure of connecting with outside of an iPhone application. We hit it off big time. Danielle is kind, witty as hell, and totally down with magic and horoscopes just like me!
Danielle's role in the jewelry business is quite interesting. She is pretty much the Sherpa of engagement ring buying; guiding her clients with un-biased navigation towards the perfect commitment piece. I tried to bribe her with gum to send more prospective clients my way and she shot me all the way down. Danielle's devotion to matching her ring-seekers with the right jeweler for them cannot be bought!
Danielle and I had so much fun chatting on the phone and getting to know each other that we thought it would be cool to interview one another about our thoughts on the whole engagement ring buying process. Keep reading to get Danielle's insider insight and opinions....
Gem Steady-To customize or not to customize? How do you know if you should completely custom design a bespoke ring or if you should simply find a standard stock item from a jeweler you jive with?
Little Bird-There are a two distinct paths you can take that can both result in a big surprise proposal/ring presentation, if a surprise is your intention. The path you choose depends on the level of confidence you have in selecting and designing for your partner. Camp 1: You feel like you’ve been given plenty of hints and you have almost all the details you need in order to create a ring, you just need a fine jewelry pro to help you put it all together. Camp 2: You have the sneaking suspicion that your partner has some pretty specific preferences that you aren’t aware of and can’t tap into without spoiling the surprise AND/OR it’s well known in your relationship that your partner often has to return or exchange items you’ve selected. IF you’re in Camp 1, then go for it! Create something totally unique, one-of-a-kind and super personal to both you and your partner. If you’re not 100%, then a good tactic is to either bring your partner into the process and custom create something, start to finish, together - OR - lineup the ideal center stone and propose with that and then go back to the designer to build a crazy cool ring around it together.
Gem Steady-Is there a way to design a ring with your partner while still keeping it a surprise at the same time?
Little Bird- Yes. But you need to work with a designer whose style you jive with. And you need to really talk about your partner's life, style, personality, etc with that professional. It’s ideal to work with someone who mirrors the style of your partner so that they can help you identify opportunities in the ring anatomy for personalized twists.
Gem Steady-How can someone drop serious hints to their partner on what kind of ring they want without looking like a desperate Debbie?
Little Bird- Great question, Desperate Debbie. There are some great ways to drop hints, and some are far more helpful than others. IF your partner is going to select an engagement ring for you, there are SEVEN basic ingredients they will need to gather: 1. stone type, 2. stone color, 3. stone shape, 4. metal type, 5. accents or no accents, 6. silhouette and 7. ring size. So before you start a bunch of awkward, murky conversations with your partner about your friend Becky’s ring that you just think “sits up waaay too high” or “probably cost a fortune”, you should spend some time solo hunting around the internets and seeing if you have any specific preferences when it comes to the seven basic ingredients. Once you know what you want, it will become easier to slip those details into everyday conversation.
Gem Steady -The whole spend 'three months salary' on the ring seems kinda obsolete these days. What do you suggest when someone doesn't know how much they should be spending?
Little Bird- Yeah, no question, the three months salary rule is totally bananas. I notice that the definition of partnership these days is quite different from the era in which that rule was said to apply. There are many instances in which my client is worried his partner will disapprove of how much was spent. I think it’s important to carve out a number you can stand behind. A number you are okay with saying out loud to your partner, your parents, your best friend. If you are spending more than you feel comfortable with, then there’s a good chance your partner will agree.
Gem Steady-Final words of wisdom.