Tips, tricks, and advice from the pros.
The Ring Leader
Want your engagement ring and wedding bands to really shine? Consider going custom, says jewelry designer Megan Flynn.
Like many successful entrepreneurs, sisters Megan and Moria Flynn were inspired by a childhood pastime. “We were always making jewelry as kids,” Megan says. As preteens, they even dabbled in wholesale, selling bracelets crafted from friendship pins to a store on Mount Desert Island, Maine. “We didn’t have cable,” Megan says, “so we had lots of time on our hands.”
Fast-forward to the recession, when the sisters again found themselves living together at their parents’ house—and making jewelry together, too. After creating a few pieces for Megan to wear to a wedding, the Flynns decided to spin their hobby into a profession, opening up a South End studio and, shortly after, the retail showroom M. Flynn.
For brides- and grooms-to-be, the chic boutique showcases handcrafted engagement rings, wedding bands, and other aisle-ready baubles. The sisters are currently honing their skills on jewelry-specific CAD (computer-aided design) software and taking part-time courses at the Gemological Institute of America so they can continue to expand their custom offerings. Here, Megan schools us in the art of big-day bling.
—Marni Elyse Katz
Tell us about your custom jewelry design process.
First we listen to what the client is thinking about and get an idea of budget. Then we brainstorm ideas and put together a mood board. When we’ve settled on a basic look, we use a jewelry-specific CAD software program to further refine the design. The program lets us provide a detailed rendering of what pieces will look like.
Is the custom route for everyone?
It’s great for clients who are looking for something different, and who want to take part in the design process. But some people need to touch and feel the jewelry. The CAD software helps, but the ring won’t be right there in front of you.
Do clients come to you with ideas already in mind?
People pay attention to wedding blogs and Pinterest boards. Some bring in photos of different rings that they want to blend into one design. That’s where we can really help—we are able to work with them to transform their ideas into a finished product.
So is it men who are seeking out one-of-a-kind engagement rings and getting involved in the actual design?
The men who come to us for engagement rings do so because their fiancée has poked them. This past spring we did quite a few nontraditional engagement rings, though always at the direction of the bride.
Can you tell us about a particularly original commission?
We recently designed a ring featuring a huge pink sapphire that rivaled the cost of some diamonds we’ve purchased. We surrounded it with marquise and half-moon diamonds for a starburst effect. It was thrilling for us.
Are colored stones becoming more common?
Yes. Clients are choosing less common colored stones and experimenting with different combinations, not just mixing sapphires with diamonds. Recently we designed a ring with tanzanite accents. It’s a bright, purple-blue stone that the couple had seen when they traveled to Africa together. They incorporated it as a reminder of the trip. We’ve also used pink sapphires, tourmalines, and, of course, canary diamonds.
What cuts of stone are popular?
We’re seeing a mix of cuts. We had one client ask for alternating round and baguette stones in an eternity band. We’re currently making another eternity band with marquise-cut diamonds that are nested to look like petals. We’re having fun playing with different shapes. Moria made a ring for herself using marquise-cut stones that she set in a crisscross pattern.
How can a bride rework a vintage or heirloom piece?
We love working with inherited pieces. But vintage jewelry is often very delicate, and you don’t quite know what you are getting. Clients often bring us old pieces to be reset or repaired. Many older pieces are worn thin, and too fragile for everyday use. We recently reset a ring a bride inherited from her grandmother that she planned to wear as her engagement ring. We simply reset it in a similar manner.
What are brides looking for when it comes to wedding-day jewelry?
More and more brides are commissioning fine keepsake pieces to wear on the day of the wedding. We call it the Kate Middleton trend, because she wore earrings that her parents had custom-made for the wedding. We also had brides this spring who did complete outfit changes, wearing one gown for the ceremony and another for the reception, along with complete jewelry changes.
And how about accessories for their attendants?
It used to be everybody had to wear the pink necklace to match the same pink dress. Now brides are more open to finding dresses and jewelry that match each girl’s personality. It’s refreshing.
Have you had any bizarre requests?
More than a few couples have asked to incorporate their pets into their wedding jewelry. We’ve had brides engrave their dogs’ faces onto cuff links. We even had a couple ask to engrave an image of their pet on the inside of their wedding bands, but there really isn’t much room for that sort of thing.
M. Flynn, 40 Waltham St., Boston, 617-292-0079, mflynnjewelry.com.
Megan Flynn offers advice for selecting wedding bands and sparklers.
Size It Up
Buy the highest-quality stone you can afford, not the largest. A beautiful stone can be highlighted with a great setting or smaller stones around it, but there’s no way to hide or change a bad-looking stone.
Be Color Conscious
If you really want an eternity band but a diamond one just isn’t in the budget, choose colored stones like pink sapphires instead.
Consider incorporating a sapphire or blue topaz into a wedding-day jewelry piece for your “something blue.”
Keep It Comfy
Comfort-fit bands have tapered edges that easily slide over knuckles and don’t dig into the skin. The extra layer of rounded, interior metal ups the cost, but it’s money well spent.