As the judge said when asked to define pornography, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”

There are many elements that go into good design; many of them subtle and a matter of taste.  There’s the rub: what one person likes another may hate.  Overall, there is some sort of consensus regarding good design.  We know it when we see it.  Or we do in the aggregate.  For example, in architecture there are recognized masters of good design: Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright, Corbusier, etc.  In jewelry, there is Louis Comfort Tiffany, George Jensen, Lalique, Cartier, etc.

Many online sites suggest that anyone can design their own engagement ring.  But what does it mean?  It means you choose from among a wide variety of pre-made ring mounts, select a diamond of a certain size and quality, and request that it be made in the metal of your choice.  That’s not exactly design; it’s selecting among options.  Good design is much more than that.

In the case of CAD (Computer Assisted Design), it’s true that a person can produce a unique design.  The question remains whether the outcome is good design.  Because the operators of a CAD program have no experience with how a ring is made directly, by fabricating it from metal, they have no sense of restraint.  It’s all too easy. Resulting CAD designs are often over the top, clunky, heavy, inappropriate, fussy, gaudy and frankly ugly, in my opinion

Here’s an example of bad design:

CAD design engagement ring

CAD design engagement ring

And here’s an example of good design:

What makes this good design?  Clean lines put focus on the central element, the antique diamond.  The rose gold prongs holding the stone sets this element apart from the yellow gold shank.  The prongs are custom made to hold the stone revealing evidence of the human hand, not a machine made prong setting.  The two colors of gold mean that the ring was made by hand; machines don’t do that.  Though simple, there is balance in the weight of the shank and the size of the stone–the shank is not too skimpy nor too heavy and the prongs are in balance with that weight.  The metals are 18K gold.  Can you tell the difference between 18K and 14K colors?  Yes, it’s subtle, but it’s noticeable.

None of these things jumps out at you, but it all adds up to one thing: good design.  This is one very special ring for a very special person.  Simple, but elegant.  Good design.

Questions?  Call me  304 350 0268 or email