Having trouble finding an engagement ring that just feels right? You’re not alone. As endless trend pieces will tell you (with varying degrees of panic and confusion) millennials don’t want the typical big-rock-on-a-store-bought-ring experience. Whether the industry is wondering why millennials don’t want diamond engagement rings or positing that we have a master plan (see: pricey engagement rings may become obsolete, if millennials have their way) the shift in engagement ring attitudes is palpable.

Long gone are the days of going to a big box jewelry store and getting a cookie cutter ring that looks like everyone else’s. We’ve fallen out of love with traditional store bought engagement rings, and fewer of us automatically opting for diamonds. As a custom engagement ring design studio in Denver, we can attest to this. This is what our clients want…hell, this is what we want for ourselves, that’s why we’re here! Whether that means eschewing tradition and going for an alternative engagement ring, or using unexpected center stones like rough diamonds, we want one-of-a-kind engagement rings that are meaningful to us, made with intention, and reflect our personal style. If you’re hunting for an engagement ring and nothing feels right, consider going custom. You can get everything you want, leave out what you don’t, and build your dream engagement ring from scratch, for real. This is what we do every day. Here’s everything you need to know to design your own engagement ring so you can decided if it makes sense for you.


(Totally analog. Yes, we really sit down and sketch out different options for your custom engagement ring.)

To Diamond or Not to Diamond. Or to Kind of Diamond.


(You’ve got more options than you think. From left, lab grown diamond engagement ring, sustainably sourced Canadian diamond engagement ring, and moissanite engagement ring by Abby Sparks Jewelry.)

One of the biggest way millennials are disrupting the engagement ring industry? We’re not committed to diamond engagement rings. So what do we want? Well…it’s personal. Whether the choice has to do with budget, ethics, or a mix of the two, when you build your own engagement ring you have complete control. If you’re set on a diamond but feel like the ring buying process is impersonal, you’ll love working with a custom jeweler like us who will source stones for you, tell you where they’re from, and let you see and touch the diamonds in person. If you like white stones but are dead set on a non diamond, consider moissanite. It’s totally ethical, it’s got all the sparkle and durability of a diamond, and it’s a fraction of the cost. For real, you probably see girls with moissanite engagement rings all the time and assume they’re diamonds (and they probably let you). A third option for diamond-y goodness: lab created diamonds. Still relatively under the radar (and something that the diamond industry is trying to keep that way) lab grown diamonds are chemically and structurally identical to mined diamonds, they’re just made in a lab instead of in the earth. Like moissanite, lab created diamonds tick the box for ethical and budget friendly. Wish there was a legit earth-made mined diamond that was ethical? Dreams do come true, and Canadian diamonds are your spirit animal. Because Canada is so awesome, they go above and beyond the standard Kimberley Process’s code of ethics so you can get a conflict free, mined diamond.

(Not diamond center stones, just as awesome.)


Not digging diamonds or diamond-like stones…like, at all? We got you. Please direct your attention to gemstone engagement rings. When you don’t work in the jewelry industry, the word “gemstone” can be confusing. There’s literally hundreds of precious and semi precious gemstones in tons of colors and varying degrees of quality. Where you can get into trouble is falling in love with a totally quirky colored stone without realizing that some gemstones are just not at all engagement-ring worthy. You can put just about any stone you want in a ring, but only a select few have the durability for 24/7 lifetime wear. This is part of the reason diamonds have been so popular for so long, they’re the hardest stone on the market. With that being said, there are many gemstones that come very close and that we can recommend for your ring: sapphire, emerald, ruby and morganite are some of our top picks when you build your own engagement ring. They make for great center stones, and dependable accent stones and halos. When you build your own engagement ring, you can be sure you’re starting off with stones that were hand selected to last.

Choose an Engagement Ring Cut

OK, so you’ve got your stone and now the ring is pretty much designed, right? Wrong. This is 100% custom, you’ve gotta think about how you want your stone cut. Each engagement ring cut has it’s own unique flavor and can completely change the vibe of a ring. When you build your own engagement ring, your chosen stone cut not only sets the tone for the ring, it determines how much light your stone will catch. Round engagement rings have long been the most popular choice, but as people seek a more unique ring that speaks to their personal style and sets them apart from (shudder) basic rings, less common shapes like oval rings, pear cut, and emerald cut are sought out. Want to totally go your own way? Rough cut diamonds are where it’s at. Sometimes called “raw diamonds”, these are the organic looking, sometimes assymetrical and perfectly flawed diamonds that are perfect for unconventional brides with a rustic vibe.

Pick a Metal

Yes, this has a lot to do with color preference, but there’s so much more that goes into choosing engagement ring metals. Each metal has different properties, durability, and cost. When you build your own engagement ring, we’ll not only ask about your design preference, but also what you do for a living and your activity level. With yellow gold, 24 karats indicates that it’s 100% pure which sounds really luxe, but is much too soft for jewelry and has to be alloyed (or mixed) with other golds to be suitable for wear. 18k is a stronger option, and 14k is even stronger than that. White gold and rose gold are are both alloyed to create their distinct colors, and both 18k and 14k are great choices for these metals. Platinum is the new classic for engagement rings for good reason, it’s silky smooth and super durable, great for super active people and has the price tag to match. Palladium is not the most mainstream of engagement ring metals, but it’s a great option if you have sensitive skin because it’s hypoallergenic and less pricey than platinum. Good news! When you’re designing your own engagement ring, you get to pick the metal that makes the most sense with your lifestyle and budget.

Settle on a Setting

(Look good from every angle. The Sandi and The The Cecille.)

You’re now officially in the land of full custom, otherwise, you would never be thinking of engagement ring settings. But yes, it’s true: when you go full custom, you can go as simple or complex as you want with the setting. The main purpose of this engagement ring element is to hold you stones in place, but there’s so much more you can do with the design. Because we engineer each ring, you can guarantee it’s structural integrity will be intact, and that does mean that some design ideas could get shot down–like, you wouldn’t place a 4 carat diamond on a flimsy band–but with security being accounted for, you can use this space to create whatever type of design you can think up.

Recycle Your Stones

(For The Brooke, we used diamonds from one of her old rings, plus an aquamarine she had purchased and created a new, mind blowingly unique design.)

A major perk to building your own engagement ring from scratch? We can use stones you already have. This is especially helpful when your parents give you your grandmother’s diamond ring and send you on your merry way. Vintage rings are not always practical, and rarely a future bride’s personal style. When you come in to design your own engagement ring, you can use stones you have at your disposal. This can not only cut costs, it adds a super personal element. We have legitimately used a river rock and set it in 14k yellow gold for a sick man band for our client Matt. Why river rock? Because Matt’s now fiance had given him the rock early in their relationship.

Dream Big

(100% Custom Engagement Rings: The Jacqueline, The Amber, The Katy.)

This is the fun part. An engagement ring can look like whatever you want it to. You can choose almost any stone, cut it into any shape, put in any setting and combine as many metals as you want; the possibilities are literally endless. But we get it, sometimes too much freedom can be overwhelming. No pressure! Seriously. You don’t need to be a jewelry expert. You just have to come into our studio and have a conversation. Tell us what’s important to you as a couple. You never know what can be turned into inspiration for a ring. We’ve pulled nature-inspired elements for outdoorsy types–think leaf details, floral “petals” like The Kimi, and a sunburst shape like The Amber. Love space? We set a blue sapphire to look like a meteorite with “crack” marks in The Adrian. Are you total beach bums? We made The Janet fish-inspired sapphire engagement ring and The Zeke rolling wave wedding band. Whatever’s meaningful to you, we’ll find a way to incorporate it.

Ready to build your own engagement ring? Abby Sparks Jewelry is totally down to help. Call 303.957.650 or book an appointment online and we’ll get the ball rolling. You’ve got the vision, and we’re ready to make it reality.

By appointment only!


Design an Engagement Ring

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