All That Glitters

From engagement ring redesigns to treasured groom’s gifts, master jeweler and custom designer Omar Portigliatti has a few gems of expert advice.



How can I give my girlfriend an engagement ring she’s guaranteed to love?
Omar Portigliatti: Just make it personal. The key is to listen for clues and look at her style.
If she will only be satisfied with a piece she chooses herself, bring her in for a consultation. If you’d rather surprise her, casually ask for her opinion on different architectural styles and fashion pieces. If you can give your designer a starting point—or a Pinterest board—he or she can take it from there.

I saw my ring on another woman’s hand at a party. What does this mean?
Although your ring is very special, it’s not really one-of-a-kind. If uniqueness is important to you, we can customize your ring—or make a new one, using the same stones—to make it truly your own.


My grandma gave her engagement ring to my fiancé so he could propose. It means so much—but it’s not my style. Any ideas?
Restyling an antique piece is a great way to incorporate the past with the present.
Custom designers can take a basic solitaire and reimagine it with a halo or hand-engraving for a vintage look. We can transform a six-prong setting into a four prongs setting. We can take a busy piece and simplify it.
Many older rings have been repaired several times, so the structure is weakened. Restyling will guarantee that you have a brand new piece that will last you for many years to come.

I inherited all of my deceased mother’s jewelry. How can I honor her on my special day?
Brides often add a beloved brooch to the bouquet or choose a necklace as their “something old”—but you also can repurpose the jewels to create a brilliant new accessory.
For example, a father left behind a set of cufflinks with blue sapphires. These were not conducive to a traditional engagement ring, but we were able to incorporate them into a hair comb for the bride to wear as her “something blue.”

Do I need to get the band that comes with my engagement ring? It’s so plain.
A mistake people often make is to focus entirely on the engagement ring and invest all their money in the wedding, then scrimp on the band. You may spend thousands on a cake and only a few dollars on the band that you’ll wear for a lifetime.
If you already have a band that came with the set, we can customize it with a special phrase on the inside, decorate it with stones and hand-engraving, or convert it into a totally new design.


Can you give me some advice in choosing a wedding band for my beau?
I always recommend that brides choose a precious metal for their future husbands, rather than purchasing trending alternatives, like titanium and tungsten. A precious metal band can be sized, altered, personalized, passed down and incorporated into future pieces, whereas alternative metals cannot. The only way to repair or personalize an alternative band is to replace it, losing memories in the process.

How do I choose bridal jewelry to complement my ring? What are the rules?
Right now, brides are mixing and matching colors. If you choose to do that, stick with one style, such as traditional, Deco, vintage or modern.
At a minimum, a bride should have a pair of stud earrings and a solitaire pendant or necklace that suits the neckline of her dress.
In the South, it’s tradition to wear pearls on your wedding day. As a gift, a pearl necklace can be affordable and classic.
Looking to accessorize more? We can design a custom hairclip, brooch, statement earrings, a bangle or a tennis bracelet.

What should I get my fiancé for a “day-of” wedding gift?
It’s a European tradition for the bride to give the groom a fine watch. This is not only a token of love but a valued lifelong accessory.
A classic mechanical or automatic watch with a refined leather band will be a versatile gift for everyday or special occasions. When you cross the threshold from quartz, you are gifting a true timepiece, rather than a trendy fashion accessory. Most mechanical watches are handcrafted and meant to be passed on through generations.
I’d suggest a Swiss brand, such as Hamilton or Omega. If it’s in your budget, a high-end piece from Cartier or Rolex not only meets these standards but will bring a certain status and excitement to your gift. Vintage Rolexes can be affordable and upgraded to new condition with a small investment.


What are some unusual or special materials we can work with?
We can accent a classical white gold or platinum design with colors, such as rose, yellow or even green and blue gold.
For the conscientious bride, conflict-free gems can ensure the fair treatment of miners and dealers in developing countries. Also, although brilliant cut is the most sparkly, it is also the most wasteful. Half of the diamond is lost in the cut. Understated “fancy” cuts—such as Ascher, radiant and emerald—are uncommonly beautiful and make better use of the diamond.