Tropical Lagoon Ring

Kristen Baird

Tropical Lagoon - Header

Imagine you’re on a tropical island, lounging on a secluded beach wrapped around a peaceful lagoon. Looking out at the water, you notice the different shades of blue and green, all of them beautiful, growing progressively darker as the gently rippling water deepens. This image is exactly what I sought to capture in the design of the Tropical Lagoon Ring, a quintessentially bespoke and truly collaborative engagement ring for one completely original couple. 

This dynamic duo loves to travel. In fact, I first met the guy years ago while on a trip to Germany. But their true love is tropical vacations: Hawaii, the Caribbean, Bermuda… you name it! On top of that, the gal is a professor of industrial design at SCAD, so she knows her stuff about design and was willing to wait to get exactly what she wanted.

When this couple came to me over two years ago asking if I would help them design the tropical engagement ring of their dreams, I knew we had a masterpiece in the making.

The Design Process

Tropical Lagoon - Design Plan

I think of all my commission projects as collaborations but because of the bride’s design expertise, this one was especially a “team effort”. She sent two Pinterest boards, one only of ring profiles and one of color palettes! We also tried on a ton of samples in my studio and she even did some sketching of her own.

In the end, we pulled from many of my designs, especially the rippling and flowing ring profile, but she wanted something more rounded, with more “puff” at the top. In terms of colors, it became clear quickly that she was very drawn to gradients of blues, greens, aquas, and teals. No surprise there!

I knew from our earliest sketches that this project was going to push my boundaries with CAD (computer-aided design). It would require lots of communication and plenty of trial and error to translate our vision through to the final piece. Now, the fun part was really going to begin….

First Iteration: The Engagement Ring

Tropical Lagoon - Gemstone Layout

This wedding and engagement ring duo was destined to go through several iterations. In the first go-around, We focused on just the engagement ring, which had a large central stone, a semi-bezel setting, and a rippling band. 

In the meantime, I went on a quest for diamonds and gemstones. I showed my client several large lab-grown diamond options for the central stone and she selected a stunning oval-cut diamond, about 1.6 carats. (For a stone that size, lab-grown diamonds are always a stunning and appealing option!) I also selected a variety of teeny tiny stones in those blue-green tones. 

When we looked at the first rendering of the ring, we immediately made some updates. It was almost there, but I wanted more thickness and flow to the band, and for it to fit together perfectly with the wedding band, almost like they were one continuous piece. I also wanted more taper and volume at the top.

Second Iteration: The Duo

The second iteration went in the opposite direction. Once the wedding band was added, the piece was way too thick for our concept. I actually went in with white-out to erase part of the design and get the exact shape that I wanted.

This goes to show that, even with amazing technology like CAD, there is still an element of this work that has to be done with hand sketching. No matter how much tech I incorporate into my work, I always end up breaking out my drawing utensils and doing some hand-drafting. That’s just the way my designs go! I love that about this piece because it truly utilizes the best of both modern and traditional techniques.

Third Iteration: Stone Placement

Tropical Lagoon - CAD Designs

The final step was placing all those tiny gemstones, creating the blue lagoon. We selected a combination of dark sapphire, light sapphire, teal diamonds, aqua diamonds, blue topaz, and clear diamonds. This was a true exercise in sizing, placement, and color. I created a chart with each gemstone and laid them out perfectly for approval. 

When I analyzed the final rendering of the ring, I matched it against the chart to determine which individual stones needed to be moved or pulled into slightly different places. With one final alteration to the placement of a tiny topaz stone, the design was complete and it was on to casting!

A Work of Art

The Tropical Lagoon ring is made from 18K white gold. This show-stopping piece can be worn comfortably on a daily basis, thanks to the low semi-bezel setting. The large oval solitaire hovers slightly in a split shank which flows directly into my signature wavy band, hand-finished right in my studio. 

The corresponding wedding band fits perfectly with the engagement ring, with a rounded puffy profile like the shape of a secluded bay. It features 16 flush-set gemstones in a variety of shades. There are no prongs anywhere on this piece, making it smooth, comfortable, and easy to enjoy.

Overall, the ring set captures modern elegance, architectural form, and the organic inspiration that I’m known for. This is what I got into jewelry design to do!

A Long-Awaited Proposal

Tropical Lagoon - Final Product

In addition to the over two years this ring was in progress, I had to keep the secret from the bride a full month after it was finished. The groom and I had a lot of fun, games, and a few hijinks keeping her on her toes and unaware that the masterpiece was finally complete. 

When he finally came to pick it up, I spent the day anxiously awaiting a text that would let me know they were finally engaged and that all our hard work paid off. Finally, I saw the message pop up on my phone. 

“I absolutely love it 💕😍 thank you… I keep looking at it lol.” So much joy!

The groom had arranged a big dinner with friends while his family was in from out of town, so I’m sure she would have suspected had she known the ring was finished. As it was, she was totally surprised when he brought the ring out after dinner. Soon, everyone was celebrating together. 

They are perfect. I love the name… I’m so happy. It’s so weird. I even love them as individual pieces too… which I think is great for traveling. Just like the asymmetrical band.  It’s so layered!”

I never thought I’d be so happy to hear someone call one of my designs weird! I’m absolutely thrilled that the piece is perfect for her: modern, beautiful, and great for traveling. She even told me she would be sharing the piece with her design students, so we have some new Kristen Baird fans in the making!

I’m so proud of this piece, but I’m even more excited to be part of this incredible couple’s story. Cheers to your next adventure!

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