How to design a custom engagement ring with New York ring designer Susie Saltzman

May 18, 2023 | Engagements

Choosing an engagement ring is one of most exciting experiences for couples on their journey to married life. There are so many options, it's easy to get blinded by sparkle! Once you start shopping around, you might find you like specific elements of different rings but struggle to find one that has every detail you're looking for. Enter custom engagement ring design.

"If you care about details, a custom designed engagement ring could be the perfect option," explains New York ring designer Susie Saltzman, who designs custom engagement rings and luxury jewelry. "Not only do you get to hand select your diamond, you also have complete creative control over all the details down to the height of the diamond off your finger, the width of your band and how your prongs are finished. No detail is too small. We can even work with heirloom stones and antique jewelry."

Working with a luxury engagement ring designer to create a custom ring should be a special experience that makes this thrilling time in life all the more memorable. So how do you design a custom engagement ring? How does the design process work and how do you choose a great designer? We chatted with luxury jeweler Susie to find out all you need to know...

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Ring: Susie Saltzman | ​Photographer: Callie Manion
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How does the custom engagement ring design process begin at Susie Saltzman?

Each custom design begins with an intake call. I like to learn about you personally and find out exactly you are looking for in an engagement ring. We discuss styles and get an idea of what you are comfortable spending, and from there we begin sourcing diamonds.

We source diamonds specifically for each couple we work with. We hand select your diamond and custom design the ring together, then it goes into custom fabrication here in New York City. It's a very collaborative and personal experience with many touch points, either virtually (through zoom and emails) or in person over the course of the two to three months that we work together.

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Rings: Susie Saltzman | ​Planner and photographer: Nicole Colwell Photography
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How can couples prepare for their first meeting with a ring designer?

It is wise to do some research before we meet so you have an idea of what you want in a ring. For example, what shaped diamond do you like? What style? Delicate or bold? Solitaire or three stone? Modern or vintage?

Budget greatly determines what we are able to do together, so it's also important to know what you and your partner are comfortable investing. We communicate weekly over the course of two to three months, and each conversation is personalized to your needs at that phase in the process.

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Ring: Susie Saltzman | ​Photographer: Callie Manion
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Rings: Susie Saltzman | ​Planner and photographer: Nicole Colwell Photography

How are the custom engagement ring designs presented?

All of our rings are designed in CAD, a computer aided design. The designs are rendered and presented in a photo-realistic manner. They are incredibly accurate in terms of measurements and proportion, so it's a very precise and useful tool in helping you visualize your custom ring.

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Ring: Susie Saltzman | ​Photographer: Radian Photography

Let's talk budget. What is a realistic investment for custom engagement ring design?

My custom engagement rings start at $15,000 USD, and the carat weight and quality of the center diamond largely dictate the overall cost of the ring. Other elements can shift the price as well - for example, a three stone ring versus a solitaire, or details such as a pavé band (a band lined with small diamonds) or hidden halo accents.

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What should couples look for when choosing a jeweler to design a custom engagement ring?

First look at style. Can the jeweler design and fabricate rings that are aligned with your taste. For example, can they create delicate designs or intricate pavé work? I would then look at their credentials. What kind of experience do they have in the industry? What are their quality standards?

Thirdly, and most importantly in my opinion, is having a connection with your jeweler. You want there to be an element of trust, and you also want your jeweler to be able to guide you. Your experience of working with a jeweler is just as important as the ring itself. You want to remember the process with joy and excitement, not stress and uncertainty! Go with your gut and choose a jeweler that makes you feel at ease and relaxed.

Finally, consider that the term custom design can vary significantly from one jeweler to the next, so be sure to understand how your chosen jeweler defines custom and how involved that designer will be personally in the actual rendering and fabrication of your ring. How much guidance will you get? How will the process feel for you? Choose a designer who will make the process fun.

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Rings: Susie Saltzman | Planner: Lustre Theory | ​Photographer: David Abel
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