Better bling: Local jewelers craft meaningful rings

Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith

Wedding rings might not be the first thing your guests will notice, but they’re still important—after all, they’re going to ride around on your hand for a long time. Lots of couples head to a big chain jeweler to pick out rings, but is there a better route?

Locally owned jewelry stores and artisan jewelers can offer a level of personal service more apt for such a significant purchase. Andy Minton, owner of longtime Charlottesville store Andrew Minton Jewelers, says that his business model allows for a custom approach to designing bands.

“We have much greater flexibility because we sell all our diamonds loose,” he says. “I can get something in any price range a customer likes. We’ll educate them and get the stones they’re most interested in.”

Tavia Brown, whose artisan jewelry business is taviametal, leads couples through a collaborative design process. “We talk about their lifestyle, materials, and textures they like, and personal nuances,” she says. “You want the rings to be as comfortable and fluid in their lives as possible.”

Connecting with a local entrepreneur, rather than a big chain, is like going straight to the source. At a bigger company, Minton says, “You’re dealing with someone with no autonomy; they’re a store manager. Here, I make the decisions.” He adds, “We’re very competitive. We’re operating closer to the margins, and we’re trying to develop a customer for the long haul.”

Indeed, both Minton and Brown say that happy wedding ring customers frequently return for other occasions throughout their lives. Brown—whose wedding bands range in price from $300 to $2,500 depending on materials—has remade wedding rings for anniversaries, or crafted additional pieces that complement the originals.

“It’s pretty gratifying when you start having children and children’s children come in,” says Minton. “It’s what makes it fun.”

On trend

This year, wedding band trends have it both ways. Some couples are opting for narrow, minimalist bands, while others say, “Bring on the big diamonds!” Rose gold continues to be popular, but yellow gold may be making a comeback.

Consider bands that incorporate colored gemstones. Another innovation: double wedding bands that can flank your engagement
ring for a symmetrical suite.

Tavia Brown notices couples opting for mixed metals and eco-consciousness in the form of recycled family diamonds and gems.

One final idea: Stackable wedding bands make room for future additions when anniversaries or other milestones arrive.—EH

Posted In:     Magazines,Weddings

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