Are you excited about this year’s March Bridal Madness contest? The rules of the game are simple:
- “Like” Stuller on Facebook.
- Submit an image of your custom designed engagement ring or wedding band to firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Facebook Messenger.
- The pictures with the most fan votes move on to final judging.
The stakes are high! The winner receives a Stuller account credit valued at $1,000, and we feature their design on all of Stuller’s social avenues. We will begin accepting entries beginning Monday, March 1 until Friday, March 15. Then, fan voting will be held March 18–31.
Meet Yelena Portman and Her Jewelry Journey
My story is a bit unusual. I studied accounting at the University of Georgia and became a CPA shortly after graduating. After working in public accounting for six years, my husband, Danny and I realized that this was not the right profession for our family. Danny was happy with the work he was doing (getting his Ph.D. in astrophysics) and wanted me to enjoy my job. I always wanted to study art and design, and when I was still in school, I used to sketch the many ideas that would come to mind for women’s fashion. I became interested in jewelry when Danny and I were researching engagement and wedding rings. Curious and intrigued, I wanted to understand how such intricate and unique rings were made. This led to my love affair with fine jewelry.
After leaving my job in public accounting, I began taking goldsmithing workshop classes in the fall of 2014. I fell in love with jewelry making and hungered to learn as much as possible in this fascinating world. I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful teacher who became my mentor and taught me most of what I know today.
Diving into Custom Design
Wax modeling was one of my favorite and most challenging workshop classes. And learning how to prepare a model for diamond setting proved to be one of the most valuable lessons. I also took a 3D modeling course that made me realize the future of jewelry design. While I love creating with my hands and working with wax, the precision, detail, and accuracy I get with CAD would be impossible to achieve by hand.
Because of its capabilities, custom design has been important to me from the very beginning. Without CAD technology, I wouldn’t be able to run such a unique business. I use Rhino to design all my jewelry which proves to be my favorite part of the jewelry making process. I try to take my ideas to the design software as quickly as I can. From there, I can sit for hours as time flies. It seems the moment I get a new idea and start working, my mind fills with more design ideas. In fact, the most challenging part of my job is finding the time to create everything that comes to mind.
Bringing Precious Lace Jewelry to Life
Ever since I can remember, I loved weddings and seeing the bride in her beautiful gown. I was always drawn to the feminine lace patterns and delicate veils. The inspiration for my jewelry comes from the lace itself as well as from the gemstones I use in each design. The shapes and cuts of the center stones allow me to have fun and be creative.
My idea of creating a ring for myself using a photo of my wedding dress lace prompted my husband and me to open a store on Etsy in the fall of 2015. Then, I pledged to create custom rings for my best friend and her mother. I used patterns from her grandmother’s wedding dress that her mother also wore, along with their heirloom diamonds. They were my first custom wedding lace customers.
My primary role centers on communicating with customers and creating their orders. My husband’s hobbies include photography and computers. Thankfully, he volunteers his time and helps me with many important tasks. He photographs all my jewelry, edits the images, works on our Etsy store’s SEO, and creates and runs advertising campaigns. I wouldn’t be able to do what I love without his support!
Stuller’s 2018 March Bridal Madness Champ
My lace morganite and diamond engagement ring is by far the most interesting piece I’ve created. This is why I entered it in the March Bridal Madness competition.
My inspiration for this ring came from the morganite center stone and its cut. I loved the stone’s transparency and wanted to create a setting that provided a fascinating frame to show off this beautiful gemstone. To create an unusual engagement design, I incorporated my signature wedding lace into this ring. I decided to use rose gold because it best compliments the soft pink color of the 4.5-carat morganite. Set directly below the morganite center, I used a .10-carat princess cut diamond along with .80mm diamonds set on the inside of the prongs. Then, I topped it off with 68 1-mm diamonds to decorate the band around the lace and the outside of the prongs. It took me almost three months and a lot of hard work to bring my idea to life, but it was worth it – I am very proud!
Pursue Your Passions | Find Your Niche
My husband and I share a passion for travel. We love exploring different countries and cultures, tasting their food, hiking, and photographing their sights. Last summer, we took our son to Hokkaido, Japan for a month, where we rented a car and explored many different parts of the island. In my travels and looking back, my advice to others goes like this: Pursue your passion and find your niche!
Did you enjoy this custom design story? Read more about Stuller’s customization possibilities here.