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Posted at 3:18 PM ET, 06/ 6/2007

With This Ring . . .

By Julia Beizer

Got Plans? readers are a discerning bunch. Not content to go to the average jewelry story for that special engagement ring or wedding band, readers regularly write in to find out about independent designers who specialize in precious-metal rings. After the jump, we run through some options for that one-of-a-kind bauble.


Gretchen K. Raber's textured wedding band

Alexandria's Torpedo Factory is a must-visit for those seeking an independent jewelry designer. Most of the jewelery studios are located on the building's second floor and a short stroll around each designer's showcase will give you a sense of his or her individual style. Gretchen Raber, a designer in Studio 201M, can go minimalist with simple wedding bands or mod with cubist ring settings. In a neighboring studio, Zsuzsi Wolf offers a variety of different styles including thick wedding bands with tiny diamonds and wedding sets that nestle the band inside an engagement ring. Susan Sanders, another designer on the second floor, offers futuristic bands like these.

But even though they all have their own styles, these metalsmiths can custom design rings to fit each client's needs. Got family heirloom gems? These artists can set them in a custom-made setting of gold (white, yellow and rose), silver, palladium or platinum.

Yali Lewis, a former New Yorker who settled here in 2005 as exhibit designer for the National Gallery, is also in the jewelry biz. She's been working with metal since she was 13 years old, and while the cornerstones of her design business are necklaces and earrings, she also creates custom rings. Right now, she's working on a set of wedding bands that fit together like puzzle pieces when not on the wearers' hands. She works primarily in silver and gold, but can special order metals like titanium, palladium and platinum and incorporate gemstones. Contact her through her site. (Disclosure: Lewis and I share a mutual friend.)

And now from the less formal (and cheap!) department: Unsung Designer's Alishia Frey turned us on to these custom-made, semi-ironic rings from Loving Anvil, a.k.a. Maine metalsmith Coco Corral. Corral stamps her simple silver or gold bands with names, dates and other words (including "Husband" and "Wife") in a courrier-esque typeset. Bands can be customized with a notch that fits snugly around an engagement ring. "It's a promise ring for the hipster set," says Frey. Place orders through the Unsung Designers site or directly through Loving Anvil.

It's only fair to mention that pretty much any jewelry store -- national chain or not -- should be able to customize jewelry to fit your desires. Guru friends have had great luck with local shop I. Gorman.

Newly- and to-be-weds out there, where'd you get your rings? Let us know in the comments field below.

--Julia

By Julia Beizer  | June 6, 2007; 3:18 PM ET
 
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Comments

Cynthia Corio-Poli at the Torpedo Factory created beautiful gold and transparent green enamel rings for us. We love them.

Posted by: Elaine | June 6, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

We had my engagement and wedding rings custom designed and made by Quest Jewelers in Fairfax. They were great to work with - even redoing my wedding band completely when I didn't love how it originally turned out.

Posted by: Laine | June 11, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

We had my engagement and wedding rings custom designed and made by Quest Jewelers in Fairfax. They were great to work with - even redoing my wedding band completely when I didn't love how it originally turned out.

Posted by: Laine | June 11, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know a good local source of mokume gane (a Japanese technique of layering metal) wedding rings?

Posted by: Bruce | June 18, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

We got my engagement ring from a designer in Georgia:
http://www.boonerings.com/special.htm

They were nice, helpful, and have some gorgeously unique rings.

Posted by: Jane | June 19, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

We had my engagement ring custom designed and made by Quest as well. They were really great to work with and sent us CAD drawings so we could make sure we liked the design as it moved from paper to computer. We've really enjoyed working with them.

Posted by: alexandria, va | June 19, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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