Looking to propose but not sure how to go about that ring ? There are so, so many options and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated over which ring to get. Perhaps one of the biggest debates if whether you should get a pre-made ring, or have it custom made for your fiancee. Both options are valid and they both have their pros and cons. Today we’re taking a look at this very topic, and also taking a look at the third option.
Before we start off anything, we need to stress that in the end you will need to take into account several things, such as: the ring-wearer’s personal style and taste, your lifestyle, budget, how much social impression counts, how well you respond to stress, how good you are at keeping a poker face and how good your partner is at sniffing out secrets (if you want to surprise-propose).
We say all this because proposing with a ring is not a cakewalk. Emotions run high, both of you have expectations, sometimes without even realizing them, and it can easily turn into a high-stress moment.
So let’s go through the pros and cons of each option, and hopefully by the end of this you’ll have a better idea of what you want to do. Remember, very few people get clear, explicit hints about what their partner wants in a ring. Don’t worry too much about it.
Pros of getting a ready-made ring
Ready-made rings may be from large corporations, small businesses, your local jeweler, doesn’t really matter who made the ring. The point is that the ring is already cast, mounted, and ready to go home with you. So what are its great points ?
Easy, simple, plenty of options to choose from. A pre-made ring is usually on display with several other pre-made rings, so you can easily compare and choose the one you like the most. Perhaps you had an idea of a design in your mind, and how that you see it (or something very similar) in real life you notice that it may or may not be a good idea. Comparisons and options are useful here.
Easier to simply surprise your fiancee, can be picked up on the spot. If you’re looking to completely surprise your fiancee with the moment of proposal, it’s incredibly easy to walk into a shop, browse, and pick up the ring a few hours before proposing. Of course, this is assuming you and your partner aren’t too picky about the exact design of the ring. There is no waiting time for these rings, you can just pick them up right then and there.
Prices are clear and upfront. Walk into any shop or store with pre-made rings and all of them have a very clear, specific price tag, depending on the metal, center stone, any side stones, design, and so on. You know what you’re paying for and there aren’t any hidden costs.
Read also: Diamond Engagement Ring Alternatives
Cons of getting a ready-made ring
There are also downsides to getting a pre-made ring of course. Some of these may be a deal-breaker, some may not even matter for you. But you still need to be aware of them.
It may feel less personal. Some people consider pre-made rings to be mass-produced and impersonal, since it was not custom made for their size, style, and personal likes. And this is true in a way, you could easily see another person wearing the same ring as the one you bought, since there are several in stock.
May need resizing, some versions can’t be resized. If you’re in the position most people are in, you don’t know your partner’s exact ring size. Each finger has a different size, and the ring finger on the left can be different in size than the one on the right ! So you buy an estimate and realize it needs a couple of sizes up or down. This can be a mild annoyance, or a bit of a nightmare is your particular ring can’t be resized at all, it needs to be brought back and swapped for the right size.
The ring may be cast, not handmade. This can result in a poor shape, a bad setting, or an overall rough look to the ring. There are two ways of making a ring: casting the shank and setting into a mold, or working the metal band into the ring shape, by hand. Molds are quick and easy but may result in some poor quality rings. Handmade rings are simply better but take more time and effort.
Read also: Best Ring Setting For Round Diamonds
Pros of getting a custom ring
A custom, bespoke ring can sound like a big thing but it’s actually a comfortable and fun experience if your jeweler or goldsmith has the patience to explain everything and work with you to get to a design you like. So here are the best points about custom engagement rings.
100% customizable in any way you like. This means you have full control of how your ring ends up looking, an not just what kind of metal or center stone. Absolutely any idea can be discussed and you will usually get a sketch for your designs, or better yet a 3D mockup of what the ring will look like. So you can free reign to go as wild and fantastic as you want with the ring, as long as the goldsmith can make it.
Professional work, can recommend the best materials. A custom ring is done by a professional goldsmith, and they know how each metal behaves after a year, 5 years, a decade, and so on. They can recommend the best gemstone for your ring, metal, and setting, taking your lifestyle into account. They see rings every day, both new and worn, and can give you practical advice.
Designing the ring together with your partner can be an amazing experience. You can design the ring by yourself, of course. But you can also bring your partner into this, and have the ring design be a shared experience, something that will represent you both, something that you’ve worked on together. If you want to keep this as a complete surprise then designing the ring will still be special, since you’ve taken time and effort to design something your partner will enjoy.
Cons of getting a custom ring
There are also a few downsides to getting a custom ring, and it’s good to be aware of them.
May take a long time to finish, 3-4 weeks at least. The actual work time needed to finish a ring may be under 48h but your goldsmith may have other projects in the meantime. This means you will most likely have to wait a couple of weeks for your ring to be finished. The goldsmith may also allow a few extra days to finish it, even if it’s not necessary. Better to receive your ring early than later than promised.
More thought involved, more stress, not as easy to surprise. If you’re looking for something that is easy, designing a ring may not be the best option. There are many styles to consider, many moving parts, and it’s something you have to sit down and think about. All of this can lead to you looking visibly anxious, stressed, or distracted, which can blow your cover if you’re trying to surprise your partner with the ring.
Total costs may fluctuate, it’s more of an estimate until the ring is completed. Until the ring is packed and ready to ship, you won’t have a clear answer of the total cost. There may be extra materials needed, there may be extra hours of work necessary, there may be last-minute revisions, and so on. All of these add up to something the goldsmith can only estimate, and the exact total will only be clear once the ring it 100% finished and ready to wear. Most of the time a custom ring will be a bit more than a ready-made ring.
Final look is entirely dependent on the skill of the goldsmith. Your ring is entirely dependent on your goldsmith’s skill, and this ca be good or bad. It may look amazing or it may not look that great. Perhaps the prongs have a poor finish, perhaps there are noticeable solder points. Or perhaps your ring looks absolutely flawless, spectacular. We strongly recommend you look at several portfolios and see a ring or two in person when deciding who to work with.
How much does it take to design and make a new ring ?
The usual time it takes to design and make a new ring is about 4 weeks. Some goldsmiths may finish a ring faster, some may take more time. This is because working a ring into the design you want can take many, many hours and usually they have other projects to finish as well. Other things that can impact how soon your ring will be ready are the goldsmith’s general skill level, the level of complexity and detailing on your ring, how many gemstones you want mounted, and what kind of metal you want.
Another, third option is to get a semi-mount for your engagement ring. If you don’t want to get a ready-made one but also don’t want to design a ring from scratch, then a semi-mount is a possibility.
What are semi-mounts in rings ?
Semi-mounts are pre-made ring settings without the center stone, and they may or may not include the side stones. These mounts can be bought from any jeweler, small or corporate, and can provide a degree of flexibility when it comes to designing your ring. You still need a goldsmith to set the gem in the ring though. Many jewelers have their own in-house goldsmith so this usually isn’t an issue.
Are semi-mounts worth it ?
Semi-mounts are a very hotly debated topic and our personal opinion is that they are not a good option. If you like a certain ring from a retailer but want different gems in it, they can likely make you a different ring in-house. Not all jewelers sell gemstones too, so you would need to find an appropriate gem for the semi-mount.
Of course it’s much easier to find a gem, and then make a setting for that particular gemstone, according to its size, shape, and depth. Buying a pre-made mount will severely restrict your options to gems that only fit into that particular setting.
Unless you’re going for an absolute classic 1 carat diamond, in a calibrated cut, you may have issues with matching the stone to the setting. This is because the prongs or bezel need to be customized to the center stone, and sometimes the difference between what the semi-mount can hold and the gem you bought is to great. The result is a ring that looks off, may not hold the stone securely, and possibly extra money spent on touch-ups.
Whether you get a semi mount or not is up to you. You might find the experience a very smooth one and you might find the perfect gem and a perfect mount. Do take look at several styles.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.