When I met with local jewelry designer Lauren Priori at her Rittenhouse showroom earlier this week, we decided to conduct our meeting as if I was one of her clients: I shared a few engagement ring photos I have stashed away on my phone (mostly oval, both with and without halos); we talked shape, carat size, setting styles and budget (which, for our purposes, was unlimited); and finally she sketched my dream ring, right there before my very eyes. And that’s exactly what she does for every soon-to-be engaged couple (or person) that walks through her doors.
Lauren has worked in the industry (mostly with estate jewels) for quite some time now, but her solo business, L.Priori Jewelry, is a newer venture; just this past December she branched out on her own and began working with couples full time. Now she’s right at home in her quaint little showroom, where instead of handling a large inventory of product, she can focus on custom creating the perfect ring for each client. “Providing the concierge service lets me source the finest stones, use the best caster and contract the best diamond setter—without the typical brick-and-mortar markup that pays for heavy inventory,” she says.
Here’s how it all works: During the initial consultation, Lauren’s goal is to get a good sense of the client’s style, lifestyle and timeline—she’ll ask a bunch of questions and look at any inspiration photos they brought along. From there, she’ll source a few diamonds and invite the couple to look closely at each stone, as she talks them through balancing the four C’s to maximize their budget. (I even used a loupe to take an up-close look at some gorgeous round diamonds—it’s so neat to see them magnified!) At this point, she will also finalize the design by referencing mounting samples and sketching a mock-up of the ring.
After all of that is said and done, Lauren works with the best fabricators and hand setters in Philly—many of them over on Jewelers’ Row—to actually build the ring. The timeline from the first meeting to the final product can span anywhere from two to six weeks.
It’s really quite a different experience than shopping for rings at a jewelry store; since Lauren has her own private showroom, the whole process is incredibly personal, relaxed and unhurried—which is super important when you’re picking out such a significant piece of jewelry.
To learn more about Lauren or to check out other rings that she designed, head to her website here.