Meet Your Designer, Ben

Creative Purpose. Explore Ben’s design philosophy.

Based out of our Bellevue studio, Senior Designer Ben has a flair for bringing imaginative jewelry designs to life. Not merely a metal ring, he believes in the sacred power that a one-of-a-kind design uses to help express and channel the wearer’s intentions. In this sense, he truly enjoys listening to and learning about the questions, concerns, and desires that each client brings in with them. Let’s get to know Ben as he shares more about his design and technical background, his favorite materials, and his repertoire of jewelry styles!

This matching wedding set highlights an engraving pattern from a client’s ring they wanted to include in a new design. The wide band features a carved pattern with milgrain edges, while the engagement ring will feature fine hand engraving. Custom engraving patterns are just one of the ways you can make a wedding set unique to you.

A Life Of Design

I have an international background that includes growing up in the UK, going to high school and college on the East coast, and living in Japan to earn a degree in Japanese Studies. Design has always been a passion of mine through illustration and painting, but I received my professional start in the design industry by way of interior design in Toronto and then designer furniture in London. I transitioned into fine jewelry when I moved to Seattle in 2010.

My paintings are often geometric in nature and full of technical detail, which gives me a good eye for translating a client’s vision into a design sketch which can be modeled in 3D. I believe that any concept can be turned into a beautiful ring by using the principles of form and function. With that as a foundation, I enjoy sketching a diverse array of jewelry styles, from intricate and elegant to clean and vibrant.

All About Diamonds

I am a certified diamontologist by the Diamond Council of America, which is a fancy way of saying that I like to geek out on diamonds! I’ll be happy to discuss any questions you have. Want to know the differences between lab and mined diamonds? Or to understand symmetry and polish on a grading report? Let’s talk! I like to present the facts and also helpful tips to help you find the perfect engagement diamond.

Designers are here to enrich,
not dictate, a diamond purchase.

There are quite a few hurdles when trying to choose a diamond online and even in person. There is a lot of misinformation online and I strongly recommend using the experience and expertise of a designer/gemologist to help guide you. We are certified in diamontology and we can apply the tips and tricks that we have learned to help ensure that you are getting exactly what you want and not paying more than you need to. There is never any pressure to purchase and I am even happy to help advise clients on purchasing a diamond elsewhere if we are unable to compete with another vendor.

Diamonds are not just round brilliants.

Beyond making sure that a rustic diamond has been cut and polished well, I recommend choosing a rustic diamond purely based on aesthetic preferences. Gem-quality rustic diamonds are not common in jewelry stores, so there is less variety to choose from. If it speaks to you, then snag it before it disappears! Rustic diamonds are often cut as ‘rose cuts’ which means that they are flat on the bottom. This allows the gem to be set lower into a ring. If an ultra-low setting is desired, then a rose-cut or rustic diamond might be an excellent option.

More to Metals

Where custom design truly shines is the use of precious metals, and Ben is an expert. Here are his favorite ways to make custom design even more exciting with how he interprets the material as a designer.

Feel free to mix and match.

Two tone metal designs are a fantastic way of being able to even further customize a design aesthetically. This can be done in so many different ways. It could be used to tie in the use of colored gemstones, or it could be used to allow more versatility if the wearer enjoys a wardrobe of jewelry in multiple metal colors.

It can make a design more dynamic or it could be used in a purely functional way, such as a yellow gold ring that has platinum prongs for added durability. A two-tone ring with yellow gold can also be strategic to help make a center diamond appear less yellow, or it can be used to highlight the color of a diamond or color gemstone. Don’t forget that men’s bands can be unique, exciting, and dynamic. A two-tone mens band can be a conversation starter! Maybe try a hammered or rustic finish in platinum and then add a precise 18kt yellow gold inlaid pattern, such as these:

Don’t forget about green gold!

Many people are drawn to the color green, whether in a green sapphire or an emerald. Green gold has just enough of a green hue that it can really help accentuate green gemstones. It is a very subtle effect, but it does make the ring look a little exotic too.

Make gemstones saturated with a colored metal.

Choosing a colored metal can really highlight and boost the color of a sapphire or diamond. Below are some examples of how dramatic the color of a center stone can be when set in a yellow or rose gold setting. (For an example of green gold, look above!)

Play with Volume

Volume helps create form in a 3D space. It is this form that adds realism to a design. A clay sculpture of a cat is going to seem more real than a painting of a cat. For me, volume and the resulting textures and shadows and reflections that it creates will add to the realism in a similar way.

Volume is an important design element because every jewelry piece has a length, width, and depth. It will affect the aesthetics as well as the ‘feel’ and comfort of being worn. The primary viewing angle of a ring is the top view from above, and so in that sense I can start all of my design sketches as a flat sketch from that angle, and it will provide an excellent foundation for the rest of the design. Once the design looks good from above then the rest of the volume can be designed very quickly. Ultimately, the sketches and CAD renderings will only go so far, and it will be the 3D wax model of the piece that will really make the volume come alive, so to speak.

These three sketches illustrate options for how accent diamonds could be included in a custom design:

1. Two round diamond melée framing the center stone
2. Four bezel-set diamonds
3. Two bezel-set marquise diamonds

Below, you can see the client chose option three, which was then milled for production.

Design Repertoire Highlights

Reference historical aesthetics.

There is something to be said for certain jewelry designs that have endured through the decades or even centuries. By referencing time-honored design motifs, you can rest on the history of what is considered extremely pleasing to the human eye. Despite the fact that we love to design completely new and unique pieces, oftentimes it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel.

Ultimately, I think that if a design can evoke a particular time period or a non-common place theme, then it will be effective at transporting the viewer’s imagination elsewhere. Where that could be…well, that is up to each client and their wishes.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is symbolic meaning.

Explore building off natural elements with textures and geometry.

Taking cues from the forms, shapes, and textures found in nature is a great start to creating a rustic piece of jewelry. This could be the rougher texture of rock or tree bark, or it could be the curves and curls of vines and flowers.

Achieving textures that mimic nature in a piece of jewelry simply comes down to the tools that the jewelers use to apply particular effects to the surface of the metal. Sometimes, a jeweler will hand-make a brand new tool of their own to create a unique texture. A lot of creativity goes into not just the jewelry, but the tools used to create the jewelry.

We can apply a natural element to a ring very literally, for example a four-leaf-clover that is modeled after a photograph, with precise engravings for the leaf veins. Or we can simply reference the shape, leave out the engraving and stylize the edges; this allows for the imagination to reference the four-leaf-clover subconsciously, without it being totally in your face.

I think that any natural design element can feel more ‘polished’ as long as it looks like it has been designed with a purpose and has been created with a lot of attention to detail.

Design what makes you happy.

I usually encourage my clients to come up with ideas for unique design elements by analyzing their lifestyles and identifying any hobbies, interests, passions, and inspirations that can be applied to something in the ring. This could be a favorite animal, sports object, fabric texture, or pattern. The sky is the limit, but I recommend drawing inspiration from what makes you happy in life!

This custom wedding band was designed to honor the couple’s three pet dogs: a bouvier, german shepherd, and a golden labradoodle. Their pets are part of their family, and so the wedding is not just about joining two humans, but uniting their whole family together. It allows their dogs to be with the wearer even when they are not.

Ben’s Engagement Design Tips

Take away some of the pressure of proposing with a custom ring. Start simple.

Presentation mountings are very simple, classic, delicate solitaires that allow the center gemstone to be the focus. It is an excellent way of minimizing the cost of the ring so that you can put all of your budget into the center stone. Since presentation mountings are relatively inexpensive, it is also a great opportunity to have the center stone set into a ring that can be worn while you are still planning for the permanent design in the future. Lastly, it is a great method for an individual to propose with a center stone in a ring while still being unsure of what the partner wants to design. It can take the pressure off and allow the partner to be involved in the design of the permanent ring after the proposal has occurred.

Collaborate as a couple, and with your designer, to create the perfect design.

Getting engaged is a big step towards sharing a life with someone else. This means that decisions are made together as a team rather than individually. What better way to start off this union than enjoying the process of designing a ring(s) together as a couple! It can be fun and insightful to learn about each other’s design tastes and collaborate together.

Likewise, when helping clients find a design direction, listening to a couple’s collaboration and thoughts are the only way to find the right direction. I ask questions, and I shut up and simply listen and absorb the words and the vibes that I receive from the clients that I work with. Every project is different. There is no perfect formula. I enjoy communicating information, ideas, and sketches for each and every client that I meet with. I am happily at your service.