Customizable Wedding Jewelry from Gemvara

Win $1,000 toward your own Gemvara piece!

When it comes to shopping for engagement rings or wedding bands, it feels like there are only ever two options. You can go to a big box store where the selection is varied (and maybe a little more classic), but where the sales people probably have the WIC guide to (up)selling jewelry hidden behind their desks. Or you can shop indie, and hope that you’ll be able to find something that suits your style and your budget. For the longest time, I thought that was it for options. But recently I had the opportunity to design a piece of jewelry with the online jewelry store Gemvara, and I quickly learned I could not have been more wrong. Gemvara is all about letting you design jewelry exactly how you envision it, priced at exactly how much you want to spend, with customer service that operates much more like a small business than a big online jewelry retailer.

One of the things I love most about my own engagement ring is that Michael designed it himself. He combined a setting he thought I’d like with a kind of diamond shape I didn’t even know existed, and now I have a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry that is exactly my taste. When Michael went to the store to buy my ring, he could only guess at how the stone and setting would look together, but Gemvara saves you both the trip to the store and the guessing game by letting you play designer in real time.


When Gemvara offered us a $1,000 budget to design a piece of jewelry (and another $1,000 for one of you, so keep reading), Meg told me it was mine. I’ve gone close to full time with APW this year, and she wanted me to get a piece of jewelry to celebrate making a living doing a job I love. I set out to Gemvara to design a piece that fit the bill. (What’s a “congrats on that job, self” ring look like?) I started playing with their customization tool, and suddenly I had six different rings I wanted to buy and had to make Meg help me pick the final one. (SPOILER: it’s the ring at the top of the post.) In the process, I learned a few really important things about Gemvara:

1. they have the customer service of a small business, wrapped up in a really polished website. A quick glance at Gemvara’s website puts them at the same level of professionalism as some of those big box stores I mentioned above. But they couldn’t be further from that. All of Gemvara’s rings are handmade in New York by Gemvara’s artisans per your order. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what you want, they’ve got jewelry consultants available by phone or live chat seven days a week. They have an unheard of 101-day return policy (Gemvara doesn’t care that basically everything is a custom order, they’ll give you a full refund. Even on engraved pieces). Plus, they’ve got a bunch of other awesome customer service perks like free FedEx Express shipping, free engraving, and one complimentary resizing if your ring doesn’t fit when you get it. Basically, they treat you like a person, instead of like a walking dollar sign.


2. You can make pretty much anything your heart desires, in real time. If a diamond ring isn’t on your list of wants, Gemvara has over twenty different natural gemstones to choose from, including some you’ve probably never even heard of. (Rhodolite garnet anyone? Iolite? Exactly.) If your taste runs a little more classic than indie, Gemvara‘s styles range from super modern and streamlined, to delicate and vintage-inspired, and are available in quarter sizes from size four to ten. Each and every one of their pieces is one hundred percent customizable, which means you can change the metal type (for both the body of the rings, and in some cases the prongs and other design features), the center stone, the surrounding stones, you name it. And that goes for earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry too. The appearance of your design changes in real time on the Gemvara website, complete with a rendering of how it might look on a hand to give you an idea of scale. I am always extra keen to see how jewelry looks on real people, so I used a combination of Gemvara’s real-time customization tool and customer photos to select my final piece.


3. They have something in your price range. Because Gemvara’s collection is so vast and because they let you design your piece using whatever combination of stones and metals suit your fancy, you are guaranteed to find something you love that you can afford. I was only frustrated for a second when my initial emerald design came in waaayyy over budget (oh emerald ring, I will have you one day). Because then I played around with making the center stone an amethyst, then garnet, before settling on a black onyx and white sapphire design that I actually like way better than my original emerald. In fact, the more I played with the customization tool, the more I fell in love with the idea of my ring. And if you don’t want to torture yourself looking at designs that are too expensive, you can just tell the Gemvara search filter to show you all the combinations that come in under your budget and bam, now you’ve got your own personal jewelry playground.’s even prettier in person. Seriously. I mean, my design was pretty, but the digital renderings don’t hold a candle to the product in person. (Side note: Gemvara has showrooms in New York City and Boston if you want to see the jewelry in person before you buy.) But more than just liking how it looks, I am finding that my Gemvara ring is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry to put on each day, because it’s something I made, just for me.


It turns out that Gemvara knew exactly what they were doing when they gave us the option to design our own piece for this post. Because now I’m hooked on the idea that I can just create my own big girl jewelry instead of waiting until the perfect piece falls in my lap (that’s the very definition of big girl jewelry, no?)

And now for the super, awesome, amazing news. Gemvara is giving away $1,000 to design your own piece of jewelry! That was not a typo. $1,000 towards your own, personally designed piece of Gemvara jewelry. Having spent more time designing my ring on Gemvara than I care to admit, I can assure you that $1,000 goes a long way toward a beautiful, custom piece with Gemvara. In fact, to inspire you, I put a few of my favorites that I didn’t end up getting below. Someone please buy that Acadia ring. It’s the prettiest.

GemvaraMaddie’s Gemvara Picks Under $1K*: 1. “Sansa” Round Black Onyx in 14K Rose Gold with White Sapphires ($850) 2. “Cecilia” Cushion cut black Onyx in 14K Rose Gold with White Sapphires ($1,000) 3. “Acadia” Emerald-Cut Rose Quartz in 14K Rose Gold ($497) 4. “Vela” Emerald-Cut Amethyst in 14K White Gold Ring with White Sapphires ($731) 5. “Flowering Pearl” Lavender Cultured Pearl in 14K Rose Gold Ring with Diamonds ($850)

Here’s how to enter:

  • Head over to the Gemvara website by clicking here and then register your email address with them.
  • Browse Gemvara’s collection of customizable jewelry (have fun trying to resist getting sucked into the customizer tool for hours).
  • Choose a piece that you love.
  • Then come back here and comment with the name of your favorite piece.
  • (Bonus points if you design your own piece, because I want to see what you make and tell you how pretty it is. Though it doesn’t help your chances of winning, it will help your chances of being my friend.)

The contest is open for one week, and it closes at midnight on August 14th.The winner will be announced on Monday, August 18th! (For the full terms and conditions of this giveaway, click here.)


Picking an engagement ring or wedding band should be a process that makes you feel empowered (not pressured). With Gemvara’s customer service team and practically limitless selection, you don’t have to compromise what you love for what’s available, and you’ve got a whole support team ready to help you turn your idea into a reality. Plus, when people compliment you on your ring (as people are wont to do) you can gleefully tell them you (or your partner) designed it. And bragging rights are always priceless, if you ask me.

Don’t forget to enter to win $1,000 toward a Gemvara order! In the meantime, for the next 72 hours, apw readers get 15% off all Gemvara products. Click here to redeem.

*Prices reflect 15% discount

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