The ring surrounding this is my (James's) wedding ring. Not your everyday wedding ring (I hope). I think we'd both realized for quite a while that we wouldn't want stock-ish rings. I had a general idea for the rings, well, quite a while ago. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
While we had talked about the idea of the custom rings at some point or another, we found ourselves browsing engagement rings at a few stores one night in January of 2006. A thanks to Zales for schooling us on the necessary lingo and whatnot.
Of course, we went from 'browsing' to 'taking one home' very rapidly. And why? Well, we found a shiny ring. Quite shiny. Shinier than most everything in the case. 4C's wise, it wasn't anything spectacular - but looking at it.. well, did I mention shiny? And sparkly. It caught both of our eyes.
The funny thing is, it seemed to be on sale, to boot. Marked down about about 35%, even. Which, as one might imagine, is a fair chunk of change when it comes to a diamond ring. There was a 'sister' ring, basically, about .01 carat larger, but otherwise, matching in stats. It didn't come close. And it was considerably more expensive for some reason.
So at some point, with us both being fascinated by the overly shiny thing, I finally turned and whispered to Kirin - in possibly the best proposal ever - "If I buy it, will you wear it?". I'm pretty sure she thought I was nuts at that point, but she agreed anyhow. (Guess she must be, too, hmm?)
Now, in his defense, I was well aware before I even became involved with James that Virgos aren't especially sappy or romantic. However, they are usually sincere, so I didn't think he was all THAT crazy for his eloquent proposal. Besides, he did reword it later on down the line to be more "traditional."
Anyhow, the next thing you know, we were walking out of the store with it. Or not, really. It seems -someone- who shall remain nameless wanted it to, you know, actually fit and what not. So instead, we had to leave it to be resized. Picky people and their "Wanting things to actually fit".
Oddly, I don't actually remember when we actually got the ring. But I do remember that, after we actually got it, there would be times where I'd wind up staring at it, fascinated. (Note: This is still true sometimes :)
So, we still needed the wedding bands. After waffling back and forth a bit, we finally decided that we'd resurrect the idea of the custom ring. When we bought the engagement ring, we weren't entirely sure whether we were going to keep the diamond in that ring, or if it would just be a placeholder. The store had offered to remove the diamond from the mounting for about the price of the ring itself (IE - we'd break even on the deal).
The basic idea was that instead of having a standard wedding band, we'd create a wrap consisting as a pair of dragons, joined at the tail, clutching at the diamond. We started out by looking online to make sure noone had anything similar, first off (yay for Google Image Search.
While noone had anything quite like what we had in mind, we did find rings here and there that had some aspect of the idea, and started putting them together. Once we had enough of an idea, we had to figure out, well, who could actually make it happen.
So, since about the time I moved to Seattle, I've been bombarded on the radio by commercials for E. E. Robbins, which incidentally was only a couple of blocks from my old apartment. I knew, from their commercials, that they did some custom work, so we figured we'd make the trek down, random print outs in hand, to talk with them.
The sales person we talked to fetched the actual goldsmith. He took one look at our design, and basically flat out told us that he couldn't do it. Well, rather that he could try it, but wasn't comfortable trying to get the level of detail that we were asking for, and with the amount of work it would entail, he'd have to charge upwards of $5000 a ring (ouch!). He -did-, however, give us a referral and basically told us that if anyone could do it, it would be these guys.
So we finally made it to Green Lake Jewelry Works a week or so later. We met with one of their... artists, I suppose. She took what we had, made a quick sketch, and gave a rough estimate (Note: significantly NOT $5000 / ring - I think, in fact, that my reaction to the price was an amazed "you're sure that's for BOTH of them?"). Not the best bargaining tactic, I suppose.
Anyhow, it was a somewhat fun process - first they made detailed sketches and got approval. Then, they cast the rings in a lovely dark green wax, and let us check it out. Minor tweaks here and there, and voila, they had rings cast in gold for us to check out.
The most annoying bit was trying to find gems for the eyes. We originally wanted to have our matching birthstones. It turns out finding itty-bitty green gems (though not peridot) is easy. Finding itty-bitty -red- gems on the other hand requires you to try to move mountains, or have them explicitly cut.
In the end, we eventually settled on just getting the greens. We had partially deviated from the birthstone plan anyhow, as we couldn't really get peridot cut that small, and the red honestly clashed (looked a bit like Christmas). I was somewhat nervous as they basically would have to massacre the dragon head and rebuild it around the gems - but I have never been able to tell the difference.
And did I mention that they're shiny?