Aaaaah! Here we are once again: Two crazy kids madly in love. It was a great wedding with lots of beautiful memories. And the ensuing 20+ years have been the same: great with lots of beautiful memories.
Today, I want to finish up my series on the design and production of my 20th anniversary ring with the most fun (to me, anyhow!) part: Pictures of the finished piece! If you’re just now tuning in or stumbling across this post, here are the previous posts in the series:
Part 1: Ideas & Inspiration
Part 2: Selecting a Stone
Part 3: The Design
So here she is! I know this design and type of setting isn’t for everyone, but I am mad in love with it. I love the look of metal work, so I love settings that are detailed and metal-heavy. It took me a while and a fair bit of “living” to realize the things I love and the things that are pretty but are not for me. I suppose it works that way for most people.
When I think back on getting engaged and getting married, I realize I was majorly influenced by what other people wanted. To the extent that I couldn’t separate what others wanted and thought was “appropriate” or “pretty” or “correct” or … well, whatever you want to call it … from my own ideas of those things. This isn’t to say that I didn’t love my engagement ring. I did love it, and I still do love it! It’s beautiful, and I still wear it. But it is to say that I wouldn’t have had the courage to stand up and say, “Hey World! This is what I want, and I don’t care if you think it’s weird or different!”
And, if I had possessed the courage to stand up and shout those things to the world, I wouldn’t have known where to start on my hunt for a ring that fit my “crazy” criteria. I got engaged and married before the internet was a thing. In the town where I lived, I did not have access to jewelers who would do this type of custom work. It never occurred to me that I could have a ring custom made. It was something so far out of my own realm of experience that the option to do a custom ring basically didn’t exist for me back then.
But that was then and this is now! I was lucky enough to stumble into the world of custom jewelry a few years ago. I started out with a simple project and a simple idea, and it was a great experience. And, suddenly, the floodgates were opened for me. Over the years, my ideas and projects have become increasingly crazy, detailed, and complex. I say “crazy” in the best of ways. I’m not bragging on myself or putting myself down by saying it. At least, that’s not my intention. I think of them as “crazy” because I know these are designs that most people would never want to wear.
So, that leads me to my 20th anniversary ring. It is a 14K rose gold setting and contains almost 13 grams of gold. The stone, as we talked about in the second part of this series, is a purple-pink Spinel. It is a little over 2 carats equivalent weight, and it has the prettiest shade of purple. I love the way it looks like a rich and deep wine color in some lights and more pink-toned in others. I chose this stone because Spinel is a nice stone for everyday wear and the color came close to the purple tone of Amethyst, which is my husband’s birthstone. This is my first set Spinel, and I was happily surprised at the sparkle factor. This stone catches the light and plays it back to me through every facet. I think people often don’t expect sparkle from a colored stone, but this one has it. And rainbows, too!
As you may recall from the CAD images in post 3, I have larger roses on either side of the setting, just underneath the stone. I wanted roses because they are my favorite flower. My husband gives me roses every year on my birthday and for our anniversary. My wedding bouquet was made entirely of roses. It is such a special flower for me.
As we talked about the setting, David Klass and I decided to add a little “oomph” of color. He mentioned enameling, and I was all over that idea. It took me some time to figure out the color for the enameling. Originally, I was going to do a purple to match or coordinate with the stone. But then, I started thinking about what might happen if I had to replace the stone down the line. I’m not planning on this, mind you. But I know Spinel isn’t as hard as Diamond or Sapphire. If the worst happens and I manage to crack the stone, that will mean a replacement. No matter how much I love my purple stone, I am incredibly likely to go with a blue gemstone because blue is my favorite color. So, I decided to go with a soft, robin’s egg sort of blue on the enameling. I like how this color coordinates with the purple stone, and it will work well if I end up switching colors in the future.
And my dragons!! It always comes back to these little beauties. I love how they are fierce and a little savage looking as they come up on either side of the stone. I love all the detail in their faces, manes, antlers, and scales. You can even see their little teeth! Along with all of that, you have scales and spines and the most adorable little feet ever. Ever!
Each little dragon seems to glide and undulate up the ring toward the center stone. I love how their bodies have so much motion and life to them, and the tails go all the way down to meet under the bottom of the ring.
So why the whole dragon thing? It’s a fair question. It’s a question my mother has asked me many, many times. She asks it every time she sees this ring, in fact! The first time I showed it to her, she shook her head and said, “I always thought you would outgrow this dragon thing. But I guess you won’t.” Needless to say, she is not a fan. Also, my parents never — not even once! — tried to get me the pet dragon that I asked for every Christmas and birthday when I was a kid. I mean, isn’t it fair to say this whole obsession is my mom’s fault? If they had gotten me that pet dragon … Well, maybe — just maybe — we wouldn’t be here right now.
Of course, I’m joking.
Dragons have always been a “thing” for me. I love their mystery and wildness and savagery. For me, they represent many things I want to have in my life. They are a reminder to have courage and strength in the bad times. They make me think about how I can be wise when I need to be and how I can remember to find the beauty in life’s chaos and unexpectedness.
But, for this ring, it was even more than all of those things. There are always my own, personal feelings about and affinity for these mythical beasts. But dragons were a recurring motif in our wedding, too. My husband is Vietnamese, and, as with most (perhaps all?) Asian cultures, dragons are an important symbol of prosperity, luck, life, and growth.
My bridesmaids’ dresses were made from a beautiful golden silk, embroidered through with dragons and phoenixes in brown thread. The material, like the material for my wedding dress, was a gift from my mother-in-law. At the time we got married, my husband and I had been together for around 8 years. We dated for two years before getting engaged, and we were engaged for 6 years before getting married. My mother-in-law was pretty vehemently and vocally against me for about 7 of those 8 years. As you can imagine, having her gift me the material for the dresses in our wedding was a wonderful and sweet surprise. It made me feel like my husband and I would be starting our marriage out with the support of both of our families.
Our cake topper was a combination of homemade and store bought. Early on in our engagement, a sweet friend gifted me with a statue of a bride and groom. It was made of plain white porcelain, and my friend said something about the faces of the couple reminded her of my husband and me. I knew I wanted to use them for our topper, but I wanted to set them off a little bit more. I asked my Dad to build a little gazebo for me out of light wood. He is a master at building and creating, and this gazebo was a masterpiece in a small scale. I painted it gold and added dragon designs on the front sides. Red dragons, of course! Because red is lucky.
And, finally, our cake was beautifully draconic in design. It was a gorgeous creation. I went to a bakery that was local to us and told them I wanted an unusual design. I had drawn out a Vietnamese style dragon, and I showed them the picture. I was expecting to be turned away immediately with a laugh for my silly idea. Instead, the baker was all for it. They were excited to create something new and different. And it turned out beautifully!
So you see, when it was time for a ring to celebrate 20 years of love, laughter, and happiness, nothing but dragons would do!