Meet Your Designer, Ellen

What brought you to Green Lake Jewelry Works? 

I’ve been mildly obsessed with engagement rings since I was in high school. I grew up in a very creative family, with a mother who is a talented painter, a grandfather who produces incredible stained glass pieces and watercolor artwork, and grandmothers on both sides who had long and successful careers as interior designers. They encouraged me to find a career that let me work creatively. I attended Cornish College of the Arts, where I studied User Experience (UX) Design and Visual Communication. My education taught me how to take an interaction with a client and glean the information necessary to help guide them to the best options for their budget, lifestyle, and aesthetic.

What was it like shopping for your engagement ring?

It was rough! I already had a collection of engagement ring pictures from my high school obsession, but I had no clue what I wanted when I was finally given the opportunity to create my own. I knew I wanted an oval center stone and something antique-inspired, but aside from that, I was totally lost. It was actually my wife, Ellie, who found the original design, and I’m so glad she did. I’m sure I would have loved my ring if I had come up with the whole design myself, but it means so much more to me that she was the one to choose the inspiration. Once she presented me with the idea, I was able to take it and run with it until I landed on a design I was excited about. Six months later, my wife and I were married on top of a friend’s apartment building in South Lake Union on a classic overcast Seattle day.

After three years with my amazing wife and beautiful ring, I have gained a lot of perspective about jewelry buying. I worked with a different online company on my engagement ring, and while it is beautiful, it simply wasn’t built as well as it could’ve been. I am happy with the design, but the ring wasn’t made to last a lifetime — or even the next five years. Since starting at Green Lake Jewelry Works, I have really come to appreciate just how important it is to have a team of professionals working on a piece. From start to finish, everyone on the team here works as hard as we can to make sure that every piece we produce is built to last a lifetime. It means so much to me that I can help others save themselves the time, money, and stress that might come with working with companies not quite up to the Green Lake Jewelry Works calibre.

What ring advice do you have for couples getting engaged?

I have two pieces of advice. First, take advantage of Green Lake Jewelry’s expertise and jewelry professionals. With all the knowledge I have gained since working at Green Lake, I really wish that I had spent just a little more money, and had a higher quality ring made. No jewelry is going to last forever, but everyone on staff here is incredible, and we all work very hard to make sure our clients are taking home durable, beautiful pieces that fit their lifestyle and aesthetic. No one will steer you wrong. 

Second, stop worrying about social conventions or what people “normally” do. Are you a masculine person who wants a big center stone? Wear that rock! Do you worry about which side of the engagement ring the wedding band goes on, or what to do if you don’t want a wedding band? Who cares? My wife doesn’t wear her engagement ring, and I don’t wear my wedding band, and no one bothers us about it. These rings are meant to be a reflection of your relationship and the love you have for each other, not societal conventions. It doesn’t matter what other people think, just what you and your future spouse think. Check out some of my unconventional pieces below!

Laurie and James wanted a set that had corresponding designs that could fit both of their styles. Laurie tried on an east/west emerald cut ring and fell in love instantly. You could feel it in the air, how perfect of a fit the ring was. The gorgeous ocean colored radiant cut Montana sapphire we found was just the cherry on top! Her fiance, James, was head over heels for his center stone, another beautiful radiant cut Montana Sapphire. He wanted a little sparkle in his ring, so we worked together to design a show-stopping three stone trellis ring with pear-shaped diamond side stones to accent his sapphire.

The end of a marriage does not mean the end of a diamond’s life! This ring, inspired by antique dinner rings, was designed for Karly who wanted to bring her gorgeous princess cut diamond out of the jewelry box and onto her hand. 

What are your favorite rings to design?

I’m a sucker for an antique inspired design or a cluster ring, but my favorite designs are always going to be the personal and sentimental ones. As anyone in my life can tell you, I am a very sentimental person. I have tiny love notes from my wife taped to my computer, and I still have every single card I’ve received for the last decade in a box in my closet. I mean, I even chose the shape of my center stone, an oval, because that is the shape of the diamond in my grandfather’s wedding ring. Because of this sentimentality, I am always interested in what small details can be added to a ring to make it mean more to you.

Lori came in with a few different ideas for her engagement ring. She really a classic bezel set solitaire design, but she was also interested in something a little more non-traditional. She wanted the ring to be a surprise, so she sent in her partner, Jeffrey, and her best friend Ashley to meet with me and design her ring together. In the end, we came up with a gorgeous cluster design made up of yellow diamonds, with four small stones from a ring of her grandmother’s flush set in the shank.

Haley wanted a ring that would make her feel like “a witch taking over the world”, and this three stone design did it. We used side stones from her grandmother’s engagement ring, and she and her fiance Bob chose a beautiful sapphire to be custom cut by the Green Lake Jewelry Works lapidary. These stones came together in a beautiful and sentimental ring that Haley is excited to wear every day.

Dylan brought Rosie in for the initial consultation so I could get an idea of her style and personality, then we worked together to surprise her with this meaningful engagement ring. This includes an heirloom diamond center stone, antique single cut melee diamonds, and Rosie’s favorite diamond shape, a clean baguette. On one side face of the ring, Dylan had us engrave the ridges of McGregor Mountain as a personal touch for his future wife.

What projects are you working on now that you’re excited about?

I have two pieces that I am super excited about! I truly love all of my jewelry designs, but these pieces hold incredible importance for the clients. The first, a piece that very recently finished, is an antique Incan bib necklace recreation for a client who had the original stolen. We worked off of two photos that she had of her wearing the necklace, her memory, and auction photos for similar necklaces. It has been a long process, but the necklace turned out looking amazing (dare I say — better than the original) and the client is elated with the final piece.

One of the two reference photos we have for the original necklace.
Sketches of the five “men” that make up the bib.
Seattle shop foreman Joe working hard at getting the shape absolutely perfect on the farthest shapes. These guys are tiny!
The finished necklace.

The second piece I’m excited about is an Armenian inspired halo ring. The clients, Lucine and Brian, wanted to create an heirloom piece to celebrate Lucine’s heritage that could be passed onto future generations. She spent time curating the perfect inspiration images for me and sharing the meaning of each motif that she was interested in including. The overall shape of the design is based on the eight pointed star, which is a very common motif in Armenian art. Lucine told me that the Armenian people were the first to work with interlacing “knot work”, so I made sure to include it in the design as an intricate motif that would support the halo. Underneath the center stone touching her finger, I included a Wheel of Eternity, or Arevakhach (Sun Cross), which represents the concept of everlasting and celestial life. The details on the shank are inspired by the Khachkar (Cross Stone) of Medieval Armenian Art and a pomegranate, which symbolizes fertility and abundance for the Armenian people.

Iterations of the shoulder detail for Lucine and Brian’s ring.

Every Piece of Jewelry Has a Story

A push present for a new mother of twins.

A rare red beryl with a delicate halo.

Rings designed for two brides.

Many Ways to Make A Cluster Ring

Antique Clusters:

This antique inspired ring was designed using only family stones. Leslie and Hagan wanted a way to include both sides of their new family, so we used sapphires from earrings that Leslie was given when she was young, and diamonds from two heirloom engagement rings. Through the stones come from vastly different sources, they combined together in a beautiful design that Hagan and Leslie will cherish for years to come.

Modern Cluster Designs:

Cluster Side Stones: