When we set out to throw a Ten Year Anniversary Party, we had one goal: turn pain into joy. That was it. That was all. After a relentless series of deaths and trauma, we wanted a way to gather people we loved around us for a good reason. We wanted to create some beauty. We wanted to give our kids family memories that were not about death.
And our kids? They wanted us to have new rings. “Mommy, you’ll need a new ring for this,” my six-year-old informed me. “I guess Daddy can use his old one, but you’ll need something new.” I pitched using one of my wedding rings. They declined. “Make it pretty,” they both said.
When my grandmother died, she left us jewelry. A lot of jewelry. Piles of jewelry that we had no idea she owned. When David went to New Mexico to clean out her apartment, he realized that she had a safety deposit box as well. And when he opened it, he realized he had to go buy a carry-on suitcase to fill it with her jewelry. (You want a super special search by the TSA in a private room? Show up with a suitcase filled with jewelry, in tiny boxes and pouches.)
Among the jewelry (some of it valuable, some of it not, some of it wearable, some of it not…) were a few loose jewels. One was a large rectangular aquamarine that I put in my allotment when the jewelry was split up, because I wanted to make a ring. I wasn’t sure how you could make a rectangular cut stone look hip, so I started to do my Instagram research. And at some point, I stumbled on Anna Sheffield‘s work. All of it was stunning, and she was the only person taking larger stones and making them look cool, not just gaudy:
So I pulled out my stone (turns out it was… 29 carats….) and got in touch. Anna Sheffield and her team were lovely, and agreed to take on the custom design despite just a few weeks’ turnaround time. (The average turnaround time on a custom design is 6-12 weeks depending how long it takes to source the stone and land on a final design.) I sent them pictures of the stone along with pictures of my favorite rings off their Instagram. They put their heads together and sent back a plan. In short, in order to add a setting with a little bit of bling, it would have to be proportional, which means it would sit way over my fingers, something they warned me might be a little uncomfortable.
I knew that I wanted to take a stone from my grandmother and make it into something new and beautiful for this party. (I would have loved to add something from my dad, but jewels weren’t really his thing, so what are you going to do?) But I also wanted something I would actually wear on the regular (the whole point of having an heirloom re-worked, you know?)
So thankfully the morning I was supposed to mail off my stone, I woke up with a brainstorm. What if I didn’t use the loose aquamarine? What if I used the much smaller teardrop-shaped aquamarine in a necklace that I’d inherited instead? I never wore the necklace anyway, and it had matching earrings that I could wear at the party. I sent a frantic message to Anna Sheffield’s team, apologizing for the late breaking idea, with pictures of the new stone.
As Anna says about designing rings:
Rings are ultimately a pretty tiny piece of jewelry, and they have to perform certain functions, like staying up right and sitting comfortably between the fingers. It’s also important the design is to a scale and proportion for the size of the finger it’s going on. Beyond that, I consider what area we have to include design elements, with the ring and stone size, and balance that with what is necessary for the design to work and look beautiful. I work with clients who give me a sense of what they are looking for and let me kind of interpret from there. And others who really have reference images and certain details they want to incorporate. It’s up to me to try and navigate the options and distill all of the elements into something that is cohesive and beautiful—as well as wearable.
There are a few parameters I always design within to keep rings wearable for everyday, and that’s mostly in the structure and the gold weight. I don’t want any ring to start out too dainty to hold up to a lifetime of wear. Over time the metal making up a ring will be worn and sometimes even warped, since this jewelry is on our hands and comes into contact with all kinds of other materials that can scratch or bend against from door handles and utensils to gym equipment.
So I mailed the stone, and they got to work:
About a month later they sent me back a mystery package. All they would say was that it was “stunning,” and holy shit, was it.
Also, it’s still huge. So what a nearly 30 carat stone would have looked like is beyond me. Ideas on how to use a beautiful but enormous aquamarine are welcome.
Maybe for our twenty year anniversary, I’ll have them make a matching starburst band like the one pictured here. Or hell, maybe for our fifteen year anniversary. Life is short. Might as well make it sparkle.
This post was sponsored by Anna Sheffield, who brings together unexpected combinations of extraordinary materials to create feminine yet unconventional, contemporary yet timeless, jewelry. They are committed to sustainability, ethical production and responsible practice. All of their ring designs are available to purchase as seen, or can be made-to-order according to your unique specifications. They can also create a one-of-a-kind rings for you, either remotely or in-person at either their New York City OR Los Angeles stores. Click here to shop their gorgeous in-stock styles or to find out more about designing your own custom ring.