Okay, so where was I. Oh yea….so after vetting out a few jewelers – everyone from online retailers to wholesalers to the big name brands and even the stores in the mall – we decided to work with Rafi and Luba at Chabos Jewelry (located in the SF Gift Center at 888 Brannan Street).
What I liked about Chabos, as compared to the other shops we visited, was that we could work directly with an experienced jeweler to (1) select my center stone and (2) build my setting based on that center stone. At all of the other shops, we would bought our diamond and/or setting through a sales rep, who would then ship it off to an off-site jeweler to put it together. On top of that, Chabos also has a great customer care policy, which includes free and unlimited cleanings & resizing. They will also repair my setting (no questions asked) should the metal band get banged up or if one of the small accent diamonds should fall off.
If you’re interested in learning how to pick a jeweler, here are some good reading materials to check out: eHow’s “How to Find a Jewelry Store to Buy an Engagement Ring“, BridalTips.com’s “How To Buy Diamond Engagement Rings & Avoid Scams,” and Pricescope, etc.
As for building the ring, the whole process took about a month:
- Week 1: Picked and purchased my center stone; gave Rafi a picture of the setting that I wanted to recreate
- Week 2: Rafi sent me a 3D design of the ring (see above); Sent feedback and more specifications about what I wanted; Repeat 2x over the course of the week
- Week 3: Went to the store that weekend to look at the wax model and finalize the design; Rafi actually made me three different variations of the same ring for me to pick from and made sure I understood the pros and cons of each design; In the end, I went with the version with the best support (e.g., wouldn’t get bent out of shape easily) that would make my center stone look bigger (e.g., the prongs wouldn’t stick out and overshadow my little sparkly friend)
- Week 4: Got the call from Rafi about two days later saying that the ring was done (since we couldn’t pick it up until the following week, let’s just count this as all one week)
Ta-da! And that ladies and gentlemen is how you play “build-a-ring,” just like making a custom teddy bear at the Build-A-Bear Workshop only a tad bit more expensive.