Something that people always ask me when they find out that I’m a married jewelry designer is, “how did your husband find an engagement ring for you?” And they are always excited to find out that I actually designed and created my own engagement ring! With love in the air, I figured now would be a perfect time to share the story of how I came to design and make my engagement ring.
My husband Drew and I met in the Savannah Striders Running Club in 2012. On our first group run together, Drew asked me what I did for work, and I explained that I was a jewelry designer. He asked if “every kiss truly begins with Kay” to which I rolled my eyes. He quickly responded, “I pity the guy who dates or marries you. He’ll never be able to buy jewelry for you!” Ah, but little did either of us know what the universe ironically had in store for us!
When I first met Drew, I was finishing up college, and the business idea of Kristen Baird® Jewelry was just a dream. We started dating during the summer of 2012, and I filed my business paperwork in January 2013. Drew has been there with me and Kristen Baird Jewelry since day one. He has been nothing but supportive and helpful as my business has grown and evolved.
In 2014, I moved to Nashville to attend the New Approach School for Jewelers (NASJ). During that time, I met John Burleyson, a gemcutter in Nashville. He brought his gems to NASJ, and I fell in love with this one color-change spinel. It was stunning. I remember telling my friend Angela from school that I HAD to have this stone, and if I got married someday, I’d use it for my own ring, but if I never got married, I’d still use it to design a client ring. So I bought the spinel and a similar stone – I call it the sister stone. I actually still have the sister stone and want to make something with it someday! Ah, the list of “someday projects” never ends.
When I returned from NASJ, Drew proposed to me shortly after. It was such a shock to me because I thought we were done. He hadn’t said a thing about a ring, so I thought. “Of course he will mention a ring since I’m a jewelry designer, and I will have a little buffer of time to think about it and prepare for the proposal.” But to my surprise, he went non-traditional and asked for my hand without a ring. And suddenly, there he was, proposing! One business perk is when I have clients who ask me my thoughts on breaking any sort of tradition, I now have a fantastic, true-life story to fall back on!
After he proposed, Drew said, “Now you get to make your ring.” And I said, “That’s great because I already have the stone!” But in true fashion, like any maker, I was working on all my client projects, so I actually finished my engagement ring, his wedding band, my wedding band, and my bridesmaids’ jewelry only TWO days before our wedding. Talk about last minute, but that’s kind of how I operate!
I went through a lot of variations and failed experiments on this ring, but I settled on a design that had a modern architectural flair to it. Looking at it now, I still love it a lot, but my style has changed dramatically since then. About two years after our wedding, I finally found my style. It was a true “artist struggle” for me, but I did finally figure out my designer voice.
I will always keep my original engagement ring, but I look forward to adding bands that are in my current style. However, that’s the beauty of my organic style now. It goes with everything! My journey started as an architecture and interior design student and ended with a jewelry degree and an “organic” voice, so it makes sense that my rings show that transformation and journey as well!
Yes, I get asked ALL THE TIME if I was inspired by Princess Diana’s ring for the design of my own engagement ring. Her ring, which became Kate Middleton’s ring, is a sapphire with a diamond halo and it is similar in look from afar. But no, I had never seen that ring before. In fact, that ring really wasn’t in the spotlight at that time anyway, but came into view more recently.
Let me tell you, while creating my ring, I realized that I am my WORST client! I am a tough client and a harsh critic. I think that working with myself as the client really opened my eyes to how I needed to structure my commission process. I actually “saw” the process from the inside and outside at the same time. I “felt” the pressure as the designer/maker, but also as the bride. I was a wishy-washy client, but also a nervous and excited bride.
At the same time, I was a perfectionist designer with a desire to get it just right. With lots of expectations on both sides, it was strange but cool! To that point, I was still early in my business with only two years in, and I hadn’t done many commissions yet. So to be honest, this ring started my commission process, and it was a great one to start with! That combo, whew, it was a challenge.
So there it is – the story of my dream ring and unique journey. Thank you for taking the time to read. If you have any questions or want to work with me on your dream ring, be sure to reach out through my Commission Inquiry Form at https://www.kristenbaird.com/pages/commission-inquiry.