A Ring Fit For Royalty

David Bernard designs an engagement ring fit for his queen

While my wife, Marisa, is not descended from any royal family, she is royalty’s greatest fangirl. She is enamored with all the glamor and mystery that royals represent. As I fell for Marisa, I was attracted to a certain grace and warmth to her presence. In my eyes, these qualities embody the royal ideal. So when I decided to propose, that was my task – to design a ring befitting someone who is royalty to me.

Since Marisa admired styles created for kings and queens, it was only natural to study designs from the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras. Here I discovered masterful works of craftsmanship and meticulous precision, perfected over generations of practice and mentorship. How would I be able to create something unique under the shadow of such achievements? Everything I drew seemed to be a cold and calculated reflection of what had already been done. None of my feelings about my future wife were coming through in any of my concepts. It became clear that I needed to change directions. I abandoned my direct interpretation of jewelry for royalty of the past and decided I needed to design something for my queen of today and tomorrow.

David Bernard Wife Marisa Vacation

As a designer, I try to ensure that the customer’s needs are met and must remove my personal taste from the design. And while this habit serves me well in my profession, I forgot a key element. This time I was the customer! I felt relieved to realize this obvious fact, but I still needed a source of inspiration. I searched her Pinterest boards, but nothing spoke to me. As I reflected on our relationship, I focused on one specific memory. I remembered how happy my wife was sharing her old scrapbook and clippings of Princess Diana. I decided to use this moment in time as the inspiration for a design which would reference Princess Di’s ring as a basis for the initial concept.

Now that I had established my direction, the floodgates opened and creativity began to flow. The manic sketching began, and I put dozens of concepts to paper. After many hours (which felt like minutes) I embraced my tendency to incorporate natural forms. After all, nature is a huge inspiration for me. Even as a young child, I was always fascinated with the majestic live oak trees of southern Louisiana. The way the branches twist and turn, and the knots that curve the grain of the bark and captivate the eye. Nature, stylized and simplified, was coming through in various iterations of my design. With that, I had finally included myself in the design. This ring was meant to represent the beginning of us, and so the perfect design would demand a part of me in it. But, a part of me was just that, a part of the design. Now it was time to define the details of the ring.

David Bernard Engagement Oak Tree

The devil is in the details. Few sayings are truer, especially for someone whose profession centers on aesthetics. I put so much effort into the foundation of the ring, I had to be sure to carry it through to the finish. As designers often do, I wanted to add symbolism imbuing the ring with deeper meaning. My mind returned to Princess Diana’s ring. The beautiful hue of its famous sapphire was something I could not ignore. Alone, neither of us had any direct symbolic connection to the blue stone, but together we did. September, the month we started our path together, is represented by the sapphire birthstone. It seemed fitting to choose sapphire as the accent stones for this ring built to represent our future. I used these accents to create a partial cluster around the center diamond. Now, this ring became a classically influenced ode to the past, balancing the organic shapes that attracted me.

David Bernard Marisa Engagement Hands Ring

At this point, the piece was almost completing itself. Certain shapes, colors, sizes, and proportions reinforced one another to guide the next decision. The shoulders of the ring flow up and around the cluster of sapphires, similar to the oak branches I remember from my childhood. These forms hug the cluster of tapered sapphires and create a seductive curve that draws the eye across the entire design. Embedded in the shank’s shoulder are diamond accents that represent the bark of oak trees. All of these elements guide the viewer to the focal point – a gorgeous, round, brilliant-cut diamond.

David Bernard Engagement Matrix RenderOne important detail remained: what metal would best set off this beautiful design? As I reflected on the woman this ring was intended for, I kept thinking about her class, timeless grace, and warmth. I could not think of another metal that expressed her spirit as much as yellow gold.

Once I rendered the CAD model in Matrix®, the perfect ring emerged. The beautiful diamond in the center, with sapphire accents framing it so well, the yellow gold allowing the blue in the sapphires to pop and look so rich, and finally the diamond accents unifying the movement and repeating the brilliant sparkle of the center stone.

At last, this was the ring for my queen. A design of beauty and elegance to stand the test of time.

As a jeweler, have you designed an engagement for your loved one? Tell us all about the experience! And for another heartfelt engagement story, check out Searching For the Perfect Pebble.

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