When Hannah Florman wanted to repurpose some of her mother’s jewelry for her wedding, she couldn’t find a private jeweler she wanted to work with. That’s when it clicked—why not design the pieces herself? Her now-father-in-law, the owner of European Watch Company, put her in touch with folks who helped her conceive and manufacture her own jewelry, and Florman was hooked. “Friends started asking me to help them with their pieces, so I took gemology courses and then jump-started my own business,” she says. Now, almost three years later, her eponymous Boston-based company creates stunning custom bling for clients all over the world. “I’ve been in the business long enough that I’ll make an engagement ring for clients, and then a baby will be born and they want a present for that or for an anniversary,” Florman says. “It’s nice being able to continue with clients through all their life milestones.”
What are all the services you can offer a client?
[To start], designing and making engagement rings and wedding bands, as well as engraving. I have a beautiful hand calligrapher in Boston that does really amazing work. And I do custom jewelry [in general], so stuff for everyday wear. I also do repairs and repurposing. Someone will come to me with heirloom jewelry from their grandmother, and I can either melt the gold and remake it, or use the stones [in another piece].
You work with all kinds of gemstones, but primarily with diamonds. What do diamonds mean to you?
I like clean, classic pieces, and I think that’s what diamonds are. And I love how even though they’re flashy, they can still be understated. You know, a diamond is forever. It’s that cliché tag line, but it really is true.
When should someone who’s planning to propose contact you?
I recommend reaching out to me two to three months before you’re ready to propose. Setting a date for us to meet can take a little time, but once you pick a stone and a design, it takes about three weeks for me to make the ring. I’ve had people reach out to me within a month of proposing and we can make it work, but there are limitations on what we can do.
What about for wedding bands?
I always say two to three months before the event, whatever the event is. Especially with wedding bands, I like to get clients in as early as they can. You have 1,000 things to stress about when you’re planning a wedding, and the last thing you want to be worrying about is a) your wedding band and b) if [it will] fit. I offer free resizing with every engagement ring or wedding band that’s purchased, too.
What distinguishes private jewelers from jewelry stores?
There are a lot of differences, starting from the very beginning of the process. The person proposing will call me up, we’ll touch base on what they’re looking for, and then I’ll source six to eight stones specifically for them. When you go into a jewelry store, they have their stock, and that’s what they’re going to try to push on you. I have no stake in
the diamonds that I’m showing you—I’m just searching for stones that give my clients the best value. That could mean a stone that weighs 1.8 carats but looks like a 2-carat, or a stone with a lower color grade that looks like a higher grade because of its cut.
I also do a lot of diamond education with my clients. Before we look at the stones, I really run down the four C’s—[color, cut, clarity, and carat]—with them. I find that diamonds are oftentimes the biggest purchase my client has made, if they haven’t bought a car or house yet, so I want them to feel educated in that purchase.
And then, of course, I specialize in the customization of the stone setting. Clients will come into my office and say, “My girlfriend really wants the 1.4-millimeter band and the jewelry stores won’t do it.” And I will, as long as it’s strong enough to hold the stone. [I can also do] little tweaks and changes that jewelry stores say will cost you an extra $500. Everything I do is custom, so it doesn’t cost [extra] to go more custom. Obviously, the more intricate you get, the more expensive it’ll be because of the nature of the design. But if you have a strict budget, it’s much easier to still walk away with what you want when you’re working with me versus with a jewelry store.
Let’s say someone’s not into the traditional diamond ring. What are some alternatives you offer?
I’ve done diamond bands a couple of times. If you don’t want diamonds at all, you can do just a simple solid-gold, rose-gold, or platinum band. I’ve had clients do such creative things with hand-engraving—it’s always fun to hear the stories behind them, and it’s a really beautiful touch. Or I’ve had clients decide to get a center stone that they wear as a necklace if a ring doesn’t work with their lifestyle, or if they just don’t want that traditional-looking engagement ring.
Should people insure their rings?
Absolutely. I’m a proponent of it. Some people think insurance is silly, that the likelihood of you losing your ring is so slim that it’s not worth paying for every year. But I personally think rings aren’t that hard to lose. I think it’s worth it.
Hannah Florman shares four tips for keeping your diamond jewelry in top form.
SKIP THE LOTION
Lotion is a diamond’s worst enemy—it leaves residue that makes the diamond look dirty and dull. I know it’s annoying, especially in the winter months, but you always want to take off your ring before putting on lotion.
CLEAN IT UP
If you don’t have a diamond cleaner at home, an old toothbrush and a little bit of dish soap and warm water will do the trick. Some people also swear by Windex.
BEWARE OF DRAINS
Stay away from the sink drain—never wash your diamond over a drain unless you want the plumber to fetch it out.
Store your jewelry in mini ziplock bags (they’re called pill bags). If you’re traveling with a necklace, keep the clasp outside the bag to prevent the chain from tangling.
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