I was never a big diamond engagement ring person before I started working at APW. To me, they all started to look the same. Sure, I could pick a square one or a round one, and I could pick white gold or yellow gold. But beyond that, I was kind of like… 🤷 what’s the big deal? But then I learned about jewelers like Ken & Dana Design, who make engagement rings and wedding bands that are so unique they actually feel worthy of all that engagement ring hullabaloo. Plus, all of their rings are 100% ethical, from the gemstones to the metal (and they offer my new favorite lab-created diamonds.) And when I say unique, I mean:
Whatever the opposite of bored is, I am it and she is me. The best part about working with Ken & Dana Design is that you can create the exact ring you want. While they offer a beautiful selection of ready-to-ship designs that are just as unique as the rings above (hi, OMG this ring), what Ken & Dana specialize in is custom creations. As founder Ken Leung explains:
When designing a custom ring, we start with the intimate process of getting to know our clients and what they want, and then we meticulously craft the ring to the client’s very vision. We are always accessible and there with the client on their journey to finding and creating an engagement ring; the difference between a mass-produced ring and what we create is that we make each and every piece with love.
Which, I mean, that’s what you want from the artist who’s going to be crafting your engagement ring, right? Ken is a second generation jeweler, after his experience in 9/11 caused him to reconsider a career path on Wall Street. And since founding Ken & Dana Design, he has remained firmly rooted in putting people—and the planet—first. All of Ken & Dana Design’s pieces use recycled metals and conflict-free diamonds and gemstones, plus they donate a portion of every sale from their engagement rings to Global Witness, an organization that works toward ensuring that natural resources drive peaceful and sustainable development, rather than providing funds for conflict and corruption.
As part of their commitment to ethical jewelry, Ken & Dana also offer lab-created (or grown) diamonds, which if you’ve been paying attention, you know I’m 100% here for. Lab grown diamonds are scientifically identical to mined jewelry, but created in a lab to ensure ethical sourcing (that’s one of them in the photo above). They are also produced using half the energy of diamond mining, which saves about 30% on cost, and a lot of worry over how “ethical” ethical really is. (You can read more about Ken & Dana’s material choices and their commitment to ethical jewelry, or we’ve been told they are also super helpful in person at their Manhattan workshop/showroom.) Plus, I just kind of love what Ken had to say about using lab-created diamonds:
I always tell clients that I’m happy whether they choose natural or lab diamonds (truly I’m indifferent); I’m just here to present the facts and give them different options. To me, lab-grown diamonds are just one medium, and a very good and enduring medium. Combine this with meticulous craft and you have an art that is worthy of an engagement ring. Even if the medium was paper, if you are willing to put enough time, love, and energy behind it, it becomes a treasure.
I’m not crying, you’re crying. You can see some of the stunning lab-grown diamond rings that are ready to ship from Ken & Dana Design right here. But let me just give you a peek at a few of my favorites:
Here’s what Ken & Dana’s clients have to say about their experience working with the jeweler:
It was really important to me to have an engagement ring design that was unique and ethical, and I wanted to also give an engagement ring to my fiancx. I knew I was setting a high bar trying to find a place that had a variety of different lab-grown stones AND used recycled metals AND had good options for men’s engagement rings. Ariel was incredibly patient as I changed my mind about what type of design I wanted several times, and she was extremely flexible, giving us many different options, talking us through, helping us find our style. I cannot recommend this place enough! —Ava R.
No matter what the wedding industry tells you, there are no rules about what your engagement ring needs to look like or what it should cost (or that you even need to have one. Your commitment is enough, y’all). But if you are going to spend the money and you are going to get a diamond or gemstone engagement ring, can I just cast my vote for saying screw it to the 4-C diamond Olympics and yes please to an ethical piece from an independent designer who makes pieces that look like this:
Ken & Dana Design’s engagement rings start at $2,250 for rings with a stone, and $1,000 for settings without stones. But the best way—and most fun way—to get a feel for what’s possible is just to start browsing. So if you need a break from the monotony of your Tuesday, then go see Ken & Dana’s lab-grown options here, or browse by style (nature-inspired, vintage-inspired, modern), shape, or other gemstone options (sapphire, moissanite). Because y’all, I’ve seen a lot of engagement rings in my time. And they just don’t make ’em like this anywhere else.