Early on in my ring search, I fell in love with the look of the Tiffany Novo:
Problem #1: For the size and quality diamond I wanted, this was out of kyzen8's budget. Problem #2: I wanted a 6-prong round brilliant cut instead of their cushion cut. Tiffany custom route? Try 6+ month wait and $$$ which we already didn't have to begin with.
I then fell in love with Blue Nile Sweetheart:
Unfortunately, our diamond was too big for this setting which can carry a max of 1.15 carats.
Next up was Blue Nile Nouveau which seemed like a pretty good copy of the Tiffany Novo:
We actually ended up ordering this ring and matching band without the center diamond being set. I was planning on sending it back with my center diamond if it was a good match. I even planned on "settling" for the 4-prong instead of the 6-prong that I wanted. The rings looked nice separately and had just the right amount of bling, but together they were too chunky on my short fingers. :( The engagement ring was 2.2mm and the wedding band was 2.3mm. This is when I started examining the Tiffany Novo closer and decided it too was a tad too thick at 2.0mm.
My next love was the Gabriel Novo which was advertised as 1.8mm wide:
Gosh, this ring looked so nice on pricescope, but I went to a local store that had it in white gold and it looked dull. The camera flash brings out the bling in the pictures above, but in person the diamonds (sized at 0.05 pointers) covered too little of the width and just didn't look good.
Next in line were various rings from Excel Diamonds and James Allen, which I paid to have samples shipped to me. Here's an example:
Maybe it's the nature of how samples are, but the quality just wasn't that good. Those were quickly crossed off the list. I was very interested in the petite cathedral from White Flash and Brian Gavin:
I wanted the head to be replaced by 6-prongs. But then I saw more closeup pictures and got turned off by how the prongs looked irrespective of how many there were. I also decided I didn't really like the cathedral look where the sides of the shank taper up and end in thin air.
At this point, I pretty much gave up hope of finding any ready-made settings. Here's when I entered the realm of custom rings: Maytal Hannah, Bridget Durnell, Mark Morrell, and Leon Mege. I interviewed Maytal Hannah in LA and she was very personable. But the work she showed me was very antique with lots of intricate details, whereas I wanted simple and elegant. She also wasn't able to pull up any 6-prongs of previous work so I wasn't confident she would be able to pull that off with the dainty look I wanted. I also met up with Bridget Durnell (also in LA) but was not that impressed by her pave settings.
The final 2 contenders were Mark Morrell and Leon Mege. Let me just say they are both highly respected on pricescope forums. I absolutely ADORE Mark's fancy torchiere:
I am still in love with it!! In fact, I'm trying to convince my mom to let me reset one of her diamonds in it. I didn't pick Mark for 2 reasons: 1) While he does do custom work and could make the ring thinner, he is not comfortable making it any thinner than 2.0mm due to his technique of making rings. 2) His schedule was fully booked through end of July when I talked to him in May, and I really didn't want to wait that much longer for the engagement ring to complete since engagement was in March!
That's how we decided to go with Leon Mege, THE God of micropave and really all things pave. Here was our inspiration from his site, though I knew I wanted the brightcut pave changed:
Before meeting with Leon in NYC during Memorial weekend, I studied his mushroom pave, brightcut pave, v-cut pave, millegraine, etc. The one thing that clouded my mind was he seemed offended when I asked him to "copy" the Tiffany Novo. In fact, he claimed to hate that design which scared me since it was my inspiration. It's funny how much the guy seems to dislike Tiffany's based on his description of his tulip prongs for the ring above: "For those of you who are fans of "Tiffany" style six prongs setting. The difference is - our version looks elegant and done by hand."
Leon was also quite rude and abrupt on the phone. But I decided to swallow my pride because I trusted fellow pricescopers' advice. kyzen8 and I flew to NYC and carried the diamond all over town with us and then had a 2-hour chat with Leon in person about all the details of the ring, emphasizing on the thinness and the fact that we wanted the engagement ring and wedding band to sit flush next to each other. Leon was the perfect man for thin bands as he regularly makes 1.6mm wide rings for people. We ended up with a platinum 6-prong tulip with a slightly flattened gallery (to allow flushness) on a 1.6mm-wide band with melee diamonds 3/4 down on each side set as a cross between mushroom pave and v-cut pave. We also got a matching eternity diamond band. We liked the look of mushroom pave where the diamonds go all the way to the edge. But since I plan on wearing the e-ring and w-band together, I didn't want the diamonds to scratch metal. I didn't like the side look of v-cut pave though which has more protection on the sides. So that's why Leon recommended something in between. We wanted 3/4 way for e-ring so that diamonds would show if ring spins partially but it would be resizeable. The wedding band needed to be eternity (not resizeable) because it doesn't have a diamond to stop it from spinning 360 degrees. As for the size of the melee diamonds, I kept thinking bigger was better and even considered increasing the width to 1.8mm, but Leon said with micropave the cost of labor is much higher than the cost of diamonds, and smaller is actually more labor intensive. The most important thing to him was to create a ring that looks good, and he recommended 1.6mm. For a while there we seemed to be speaking different languages because I was trying to emphasize a minimum diamond weight (i.e. 1.5 pointers) whereas Leon just cared about the width of the ring which in essence is the width of the diamond since he likes to have very little metal show.
Here is our baby, which I received from kyzen8 on July 30 (4+ months after original proposal) with another proposal. This time it was caught on video by my mommy! :)
Leon is actually a really sweet and charismatic guy in person and I would totally do business with him again. For micropave/pave work, I would go with Leon hands down. But if you like the more romantic, fluid look, I say Mark! Actually, you can't go wrong with either.
Would you rather have a say in your setting or leave the decision to your fiance?