I feel so lucky to know a rather large network of jewelry writers and bloggers. All of these authors have their own voice and expertise, and add something elemental to the stories of jewelry. I love celebrating their successes and new endeavors, so I was thrilled when friend and Editor of Pricescope, Erika Winters, announced that she had designed a new collection of engagement rings! And not just for her (though I am delighted for Erika), but for EVERYONE, as her designs are pretty brilliant.
The collection will consist of twelve creations—five released so far—of exceptionally thoughtful design. Offered in 18 karat gold (rose, yellow or white) and platinum, the rings that I viewed all definitely have their own personality while hewing to a cohesive aesthetic signature that Erika has created. All of the ring designs are intended for a vintage center diamond or colored gemstone, whether that is a family heirloom, or from an estate piece where the setting can’t be saved.
There has been a trend towards using old-cut diamonds in engagement rings. Besides the appeal of recycling in its most glamorous form, there is a warmth, a personality that these older stones have that newer diamonds can’t quite emulate. A softness of outline or an endearingly high crown can distinguish a diamond and make it your own. Erika’s bridal designs truly enhance that experience and create a story around the center stone that feels like a modern expression of graceful designs from the past.
Since Erika and I both live in Seattle, I was fortunate to get to see the collection in my studio. All of the details that I had noticed—and appreciated—in the images were even better in person. The rings are intricate, yet clean. Protective, yet open. Diamonds are set where only the wearer may know, and only the setter knows the effort involved. I can truly appreciate the curve of a claw prong here, and a laurel-shaped scallop there. All of the rings feature a finish somewhere between matte and brushed. It’s almost like the rings have their own patina from the start. You want to touch it. This signature finish is counterbalanced by milgraining and unexpected knife-edges of high polish.
I liked them all, but I have to say that the Thea ring really captured my imagination. It doesn’t hurt that the ring I saw was in luscious gold and set with an exceptional three carat Old European Cut. There was something cosmic about the curved rings and concentric circles, but also a bit of classic compass rose in its layout of accent diamonds. It is rather bold overall, but a little bit exquisite from the side.
The Laurel is the newest design to join the collection. A classic four-prong setting with diamonds down the side defines the top view, but Erika’s signature details become very apparent from the side. The laurel scallops that give the ring its name could also look like antlers or another natural element. Laurel is classic with an edge.
Caroline features a halo around the center that we have somehow never seen before (and I’ve seen a lot of halos). The hand-forged details underneath are gorgeous and open enough to reveal a coquettish peek of the pavilion of the diamond. A graceful little scroll transitions the band to the design at the top of the ring.
The Grace is a rather buttoned-up 8-prong setting when the ring is sitting on your finger. But underneath the diamond, it reveals delightful open swags that are each outlined in milgrain, and diamond petals at the base of the head. This setting is truly the epitome of grace, combining effortlessness above and exquisite detail below.
I did a double take on the center stone for the Ava halo setting. With ample-sized diamonds for the halo accent stones and an incredibly sculptural ridge that surrounds the outer edge, this is a very substantial setting. If you are looking to maximize the effect of your diamond or gemstone, the Ava would be The One.
Erika’s designs can be found on her website, www.erikawinters.com, and the newly-launched www.JewelsbyGrace.com site. You can view Erika’s lush photography and decide which of these settings should hold your heirloom diamond or gemstone. And if you don’t have your own heirloom diamond, the JewelsbyGrace.com site has a selection of unmounted old cut diamonds that could be set into one of Erika’s designs. Take a look: just be prepared to fall in love.