How To Find The Perfect Engagement Ring Virtually (And Cute Stories From Couples Who Did!)

by Freya Drohan

The holidays are a major time for proposals, but with the way we shop irrevocably changed, securing a ring for popping the question isn’t always as straightforward as it once was. In the absence of seeing clients in person, NYC-based jewelry designer Lauren Addison turned to virtual means and social media to connect with couples. Here, she tells us everything there is to know about finding the right sparkler via a screen, and some sweet anecdotes from the couples who proposed during the crazy year that was….

How has the pandemic changed how you do business?
It’s been weeks since I have worked with a client in person! Clients are opting to connect via text, DM, email, and virtual consultations. Typically, our virtual services were utilized by our out of state clients exclusively, but since COVID began, our local clientele have chosen to connect via Zoom/Skype as well. Virtual appointments have been a big hit with clients near and far who prefer to shop from the safety and comfort of their own home, while still having a face to face experience.

(Lauren Addison)

How instrumental has social media been to your business this year?
Social media has been crucial in keeping my clientele connected and engaged during a time when in-person appointments were just not possible. I’m able to highlight new diamonds and gemstones, jewelry creations, and potentially inspire and engage with a new audience, not to mention my existing one.

What does a virtual concierge appointment entail?
We begin with an initial phone consultation where we provide you with a comprehensive diamond education (breaking down the 4Cs), discuss design inspiration, and any other parameters you might have—budget included. Assuming we are a good fit, we’ll set up a virtual appointment. Here you will be presented with a curated selection of three-five diamonds for you to consider, all the while reviewing high resolution photos, videos, and GIA certificates of each diamond.

What’s the next step after the virtual appointment?
Once you have settled on the one—pun intended!—and are ready to proceed, you will receive a 3D digital rendering of your ring. Upon approval, we will move forward with production in our NYC workshop and in a few short weeks you will have a beautifully crafted bespoke diamond engagement ring.

How does your day-to-day now compare to pre-pandemic?
I rely much more heavily on technology than I ever have. Hours, days—and in some cases, weeks—are spent curating a selection of diamonds for a client, but that is only step one. From here they must be photographed, videoed, and uploaded in order to present them to clients via virtual consultation. When I’m not curating a selection for a client, I am posting on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and more recently, Youtube, and Tiktok. It is all about staying connected.

What trends and shifts have you noticed this year when it comes to what couples want?
With large scale weddings being put on hold or even cancelled altogether, I’m finding that clients are extending their budgets and opting for larger or higher quality diamonds than they would have otherwise purchased.

For someone looking to source a ring virtually right now, what advice can you share?
Virtual appointments cater best to clients who know what it is they are looking for and are ready to move forward. If you are still in the research phase, we encourage you to utilize our website and social channels for inspiration and/or schedule a phone consultation where we can discuss options in a general sense, until you are ready to set up a video appointment.

What are your top tips for someone searching for the perfect ring?
Do some preliminary research on diamonds and the 4Cs. This will be reviewed during our appointment, but it is most helpful when you have a basic understanding on how diamond quality is assessed and ultimately priced. Insist upon a certified diamond with a corresponding grading report.

Know your budget. The myth of spending three months’ salary no longer bears any merit. Spend what you feel most comfortable with.

Narrow down your shape of choice. Do you prefer a classic round brilliant-cut diamond or are you interested in a fancy-shaped diamond—which include the ever popular oval, cushion, emerald, and radiant. Jewelry is an extension of one’s personal style and this notion applies to engagement rings as well. Choose a setting style that speaks to her tastes, not your own. If you’re unsure, there are always ways to find out what it is your partner prefers!

Do not get too hung up on the GIA certificates and grading. They are there for guidance and transparency, but at the end of the day, you have to choose the stone that speaks to you most.

Give yourself time. Custom engagement rings typically take three-four weeks to craft, and during the holidays and an ongoing pandemic, that production window can be even longer.

Plus a pro-tip….insure your ring!!

Any great pandemic proposal stories you can let us in on? 
Mario Moreno and David Sears: Mario recruited the help of his furry pup to plan and propose to his longtime partner, David. On a weekend getaway to upstate New York, Mario proposed on 11/11, a date that seemed fitting since the couple texts each other daily at 11:11 to make a wish. “I’m so grateful to have David in my life, to grow together and to enjoy every moment that we create. I can’t wait for the future ahead and this amazing life/family we are building together.”

Chris Curtin and Kassandra Diamond: On a normal day in quarantine, after both having recovered from COVID, Chris proposed to Kassandra on a walk down to the beach, something that was not out of the norm for the couple. On what seemed to be an empty beach, Chris got down on one knee and proposed. A passerby saw what was happening and quickly snapped some pictures, which the couple later stumbled upon online!

Matthew Schnablegger and Victoria Chirikian

Matthew: Victoria and I had been dating for almost two years. We were both ready to be engaged. After meeting with Lauren and securing an amazing ring, I planned this elaborate surprise proposal (complete with memo distributed to invitees!) at The Wedge in Newport Beach, CA—a well-known surf spot and the site of our first date. I orchestrated 40 of our closest friends and family to hide at the beach on Saturday, March 14. I had to make sure she had her nails done and was dressed up (for photos!), so I orchestrated fake dinner plans with our friends that were going to be canceled last minute and replaced with an invitation to visit some other friends at The Wedge. We were going to head up to the beach at sunset where our friends and families were going to be waiting there to surprise V and watch me propose to her. We were then going to have a little get together at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, the Thursday before the plan (“Operation Vee-yonce, the fiancée”) was set into motion, Orange County was essentially locked down and gatherings were banned for the foreseeable future. I had been planning and waiting for this moment for a long time and I had no desire to wait for the pandemic to be over—I was so incredibly ready to take the next step with V. I moved the proposal to the following weekend, hired a videographer to capture the moment so we could share it with our friends and families, and plotted again to figure out a way to get her dressed up with nails done to the beach. Luckily, V was very cooperative and on March 28, Victoria and I officially became fiancées at sunset with the beach all to ourselves because of the pandemic.

Victoria: Honestly, it’s pretty crazy that Matt and I got engaged during a global pandemic! I mean how many people can say that they were quarantined with a ring? Earlier that week I had been feeling very anxious about being quarantined and the state of the world when Matt asked if I wanted to go take a walk on the beach to relax. I didn’t think anything of it until I realized we were completely alone on the beach with no one there and when I turned around he had gotten on his knee! It was so far from everything I had been worrying about all week that it completely caught me off guard. During this time, Matt has shown me a tremendous amount of love and support and now that he asked me to be his wife, I couldn’t have asked for a better quarantine partner and fiancé!

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