Ask the Expert: Jeweler Justin Koop

As a third-generation jeweler with 20 years of experience, Justin Koop, vice president and graduate gemologist at Koop Diamond Cutters, sure knows his way around a custom wedding ring.

Justin Koop

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

What advice would you give someone considering a custom-designed wedding ring? Don’t be scared, especially of the price. People may associate a high price with a custom design. Honestly, we can usually save people money. Also, Pinterest can make things better and more difficult. If a bride pins every ring she even remotely likes, she may have 6,000 ideas for inspiration, but they’re all different.

What advice do you give couples during the initial consultation? Keep things practical. You want to be sure this ring is going to be comfortable with everyday wear. Also, be patient. A lot of times brides don’t want to leave their engagement ring here with us, but it’s best to leave it to ensure that the band fits up next to it.

Describe how the process works. It usually starts off with an e-mail or text [photo] of the engagement ring that people already have. I’ll either do a hand-sketch of what their wedding ring will look like next to the current engagement ring, or we’ll do a CAD—a computer-aided design. Once we decide on a style, they’ll bring in their engagement ring so we can make the model fit up next to it.

Do you see more custom designs for the wedding ring or for the engagement ring? Both. With us, it usually starts with the engagement ring. I’d say nine-and-a-half out of 10 wedding band sales we do, we’ve already done the engagement ring.

Are there types of customization you recommend not doing? You do not want to do diamond on diamond. It’s a popular trend right now, but what happens is they rub and start breaking each other apart. Make sure there is a buffer of metal on the band or that the diamonds do not extend too far past the edge of the ring. If you’re going to do diamond on diamond, make sure you solder them together so there’s no movement.

What are the hottest trends you’re seeing right now? Rose gold, halo rings, and shared prong bands. I’ve also sold four solitaire rings in the past week. They’re making a comeback.

What’s one unique customization idea you’d recommend? Put the fiancé’s birthstone inside the ring so that it touches the skin, but you can’t see it from the outside. Another popular idea is to engrave the wedding date.

by the numbers

4,000: The number of jobs completed by Koop Diamond Cutters each year.

2-4 weeks:Duration of the entire customization process at Koop Diamond Cutters, from the initial consultation through the final fitting.

2-3: The number of in-person consultations and fittings often required for a custom ring project.

9 out of 10: The number of Koop Diamond Cutters clients who go the custom route.

$500–$700: The baseline price for a quality custom wedding ring at Koop Diamond Cutters.

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