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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    When couples customize

    Carlos Diaz shows how he makes the many different kinds of rings he sells at his store. Aside from rings, he makes a variety of jewelry and almost anything related to silver and gold.
    Carlos Diaz shows how he makes the many different kinds of rings he sells at his store. Aside from rings, he makes a variety of jewelry and almost anything related to silver and gold.

    Forget planning a memorable proposal and hoping to hear a “”yes”” afterwards; sometimes picking out an engagement ring can prove to be the most difficult step on the road to marriage.

    While Tucson, like most cities, offers a host of powerhouse jewelry stores and department conglomerates, some grooms-to-be have chosen to take a different route in hope of creating a more unique experience for their future brides. Eschewing the traditional stores, many have turned to making and designing customized rings with the help of some trusted local names.

    “”I knew exactly what I wanted,”” said Greg Barry, a fifth-year mechanical engineering senior. “”I wouldn’t advise everyone to go the (customization) route, but it was worth it for me.””

    After a two-month search through jewelry and department stores of all sizes, Barry decided to design his own ring with the help of Casa Blanca, a custom jewelry store in Scottsdale.

    Barry said his journey to the perfect ring started with sketching a design with the jeweler, who then used the computer to make a more accurate design. Casa Blanca helped Barry find the stones he wanted, and once he was happy with the electronic design, an actual ring was made.

    “”The ring is something (Kati Benton, a first-year law student and Barry’s fiancée) can have forever,”” Barry said. “”I didn’t want to have to replace it in five or 10 years.””

    Barry describes his design as “”complicated,”” and said it consists of a single band, an emerald, and a slew of diamonds, which he thought of after seeing a similar design in a magazine.

    “”My fiancée loves it; it’s different,”” Barry said. “”Everyone who sees it notices it.””

    Maria Creighton, an employee at Carlos Diaz Silversmiths and Goldsmiths, 2815 N. Campbell Ave., said she sees many customers just like Barry in their family-owned store.

    “”We see customers who don’t want your traditional ring,”” Creighton said. “”An engagement ring is a very personal thing.””

    Creighton said the rings designed in the store are as different as the customers themselves.

    “”It varies a lot; everyone has a different idea of what they want,”” Creighton said. “”The most difficult part is seeing what they see, because they come in with a picture in their head.””

    Creighton said the design and production of a ring can take anywhere from one week to six months, depending on the design itself and whether the customer already has a stone.

    “”A lot of people come in with a family diamond and just want to change the setting,”” Creighton said.

    The store has contractors they work with to locate the perfect stone for customers who don’t have one, she added.

    Creighton said the cost also varies greatly, and depends on the stone, as well as how labor intensive the design is.

    Barry said his customized ring cost more than he had wanted to spend, but that the extra money was worth it for the unique ring.

    “”The design alone was about $1,000, but everything else was at cost,”” Barry said. “”It was worth every penny and more; we’ll never have to replace it.””

    One way to save money is to use family stones or metal, a tip both Barry and Creighton mentioned.

    Pre-business freshman Robert Grout was able to use diamonds from his grandmother’s old ring.

    “”I had to make a decision on which of the stones from all the stones from my mom’s and grandma’s old rings that I wanted to put in the ring,”” Grout said.

    “”I picked out the ring myself, but the center diamond was from my grandma’s ring,”” Grout said.

    After deciding on the family stones, Grout went to a jeweler to put the ring together.

    “”The hardest part about getting the ring was finding one that (Jessica Grout’s fiancée) would like and that she could be proud of for the rest of her life.””

    Despite the personalized experience of customizing a ring, many young couples are still choosing to go the traditional route.

    “”I didn’t feel a customized ring was necessary because the rings I liked just took a little bit of searching,”” said chemical engineering junior Desiree Polson. “”I think (my ring) is unique because it is simple and elegant. It’s not a trendy ring that is in every magazine but it is definitely timeless and fits my personality.””

    Polson said she and her fiancé discussed rings prior to their engagement by shopping in stores and looking online.

    In order to add a personal touch, however, Polson said she might use her promise ring as part of her wedding band.

    “”I feel that it would be sentimental to have a promise ring turned into a wedding band since it has been worn longer than my engagement ring and it is like it’s completing a promise that was made years ago,”” Polson said.

    Also happy with her traditional ring is physiology senior Diane Bradley, who has been sporting a round cut solitaire diamond on a white gold band since her January engagement.

    “”My ring’s unique because it’s classic,”” Bradley said. “”So many engagement rings these days are too trendy, I like mine because it’s timeless.””

    Bradley said her ring choice will allow her more options for choosing a wedding band, which can be more difficult when working with a customized ring design.

    Unlike many of her recently engaged friends, Bradley said her fiancé did his homework and shopped around for the perfect ring and the best deal, something she would encourage all young couples to do.

    While the possibilities for a ring are endless, both future grooms and brides alike all agreed that finding a ring that fits ones personality is the true key to success.

    “”A ring can reflect a person and what they are like; this might mean customizing a ring, going to a store to find the perfect one or even getting a ring passed down through generations,”” Polson said. “”Spending time on what both the woman and man like is important; Similar to most decisions in any marriage.””

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