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 my own engagement ring! And since love is in the air recently because of Valentine’s Day, I figured now would be a perfect time to share the story of how I came to design my engagement ring!
My husband Drew and I met in the Savannah Striders Running Club in 2012. I joined that April with the intention of finding a new community since I was about to graduate from SCAD in May, and all my SCAD friends were leaving in June. I was only going to stay in Savannah for one year, but almost nine years later, that plan obviously changed. I met the most amazing group of Savannahians in the Striders along with this really nice guy...
One day while running with Drew and our friend Mo, Drew asked me what I did for work, and I explained that I was a jewelry designer. He asked if I liked jewelry from Zales and Kay to which I responded rather harshly about how that style of jewelry just wasn’t for me. 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 was ironically in store for us!
The first time Drew asked me out was to a group yoga class. I turned him down on dinner afterward, not actually thinking it was an official date. I mean, it was a group outing, and our mutual friend Sarah was there, too. He kept asking me out on group adventures with mutual friends, so I didn’t think much of it for awhile. That is until he finally, point-blank asked me, “Are you interested in me or not?” Way to put me on the spot, right?
Apparently, after taking me and some other friends on a run in Hilton Head (side note: the run was supposed to be four to six miles, but it turned into a death march of 14 miles!), Drew still felt like I wasn’t “into” him. He confided in Sarah about his concerns, and she nearly smacked him saying, “Any girl who will give up her Saturday to run 14 miles is into you!” So once he and I cleared the air, we were good to go!
On our first official date, Drew took me to a steakhouse on Hilton Head, and then we went to the beach to watch the sunset. He was so nervous that he dropped and shattered his phone screen when he opened the car door for me. That poor screen remained shattered for about two years after that!
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 really 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.
A Change of Scenery
In 2014, I moved to Nashville to attend the New Approach School for Jewelers (NASJ). Drew and I were still dating, but we both knew I needed this school to advance my career, so I relocated there for three months. During that time, I met John Burleyson, a cutter in Nashville. He brought his gems to NASJ, and I fell in love with this one 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 for myself or my son Paxton someday!
When I returned from NASJ, Drew was acting strange. So strange that I thought he was over me and that we might break up! It turns out that he was overthinking proposing to me and panicking about it for weeks on end. He ended up proposing shortly after. It was such a shock to me because I thought we were done, and 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!
A Ringless but Perfect Proposal
Drew had recently bought a house, and he got a grill so we could cookout on the patio. It was a fixer-upper house, so things were in shambles, but he asked me to come over for a barbeque. With a plate of hamburgers and hotdogs on my lap, sitting in a camping chair on the patio, he proposed! He held my hand, started talking really sweetly, and asked if I would marry him.
To tell you how much of a shock it was, I laughed when he said, “Will you marry me?” I thought it was a joke. But he clarified, “I’m actually proposing right now.” Apparently, I need things said to me bluntly! But in all seriousness, it was quiet and perfect. Down to earth. Not showy. No camera crew. Unintentionally, the fireworks at a Savannah Sand Gnats (now Savannah Bananas) game went off mid-proposal. It was exactly how it should have been!
A Ring is Born
After he proposed, he 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, and my wedding band only TWO days before our wedding. Talk about last minute!
I went through a lot of variations and failed experiments on this, but I settled on a design that had an 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.
While creating my ring, I realized that I am my WORST client! I am a tough client and a harsh critic on myself. I think that working with myself as a 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!
So there it is – the story of my dream ring and my 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 the Commission Inquiry Form.