Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a custom engagement ring take to make?
**Rush orders can definitely be accommodated depending on the design. Simply let us know your planned proposal date.
To help with planning purposes: Once you’ve chosen a diamond, we require at least a 50% deposit to get started making your custom ring. Most people take care of the full payment at the start, but we only require 50% down, so you can simply choose whichever works best for you.
**All rings from Vanessa Nicole Jewels are uniquely designed and fabricated on premises.
How much time on my part do I need to invest?
Clients can be as involved or uninvolved as they’d like. Some people simply want to sign off on the design and stay out of the picture until their ring is ready to be shipped. Others want to keep in contact every week to know where we’re at in the process. Unless you specifically say you don’t want updates, we’ll email you about once every 7 days to let you know the status of your ring.
How does the process work?
1. CONTACT THE STUDIO
Fill out the message form on our CONTACT page. Our custom rings start at $8,000 (including the diamond & custom setting). Vanessa Nicole will personally work with you one-on-one throughout your entire engagement ring experience.
2. FILL OUT THE DISCOVERY QUESTIONNAIRE
After filling out the initial Contact form, we’ll send you this Questionnaire via email to find out exactly what you’re looking to create. Our clients come to us either knowing nothing about rings or they’ve searched the internet for months. Whatever step you’re at, we’re happy to help answer all your questions.
3. TOGETHER, WE’LL DESIGN YOUR CUSTOM RING
Most people have photos of a few rings they like and want to customize those designs into their one dream ring. Others have a design they already love but want us to re-create it custom in order to personalize their engagement ring experience. We can show you plenty of images for inspiration based on your desired center stone shape.
4. SELECT YOUR DIAMOND
You get to personally select the diamond she’ll wear on her finger for the rest of her life! Other stores boast of a large diamond inventory, but that means they need to sell them. VNJ doesn’t keep a diamond inventory because we prefer not to feel pressured to only sell what we own. Vanessa visits multiple diamond dealers to view dozens of diamonds in order to create a gorgeous selection of 3-5 stones for you to choose from. (If you’re out-of-town, we do your Diamond Selection in HD video – we’ve NEVER had a client dissatisfied with their choice)
5. CAD MODEL (Computer Rendering)
Once we’ve discussed the design and you’ve chosen the center stone, your ring will be modeled on the computer to fit the exact measurements of your diamond. You’ll be sent a computer rendering via email in 7-10 business days to approve. This will allow you to see your ring from all angles before it’s actually created in precious metal. At this point, you can make adjustments to the ring or, if it’s perfect, you can say “green light!” for it to move onto the next step.
6. YOUR ENGAGEMENT RING IS COMPLETE!
The ring creation process takes between 4-6 weeks from when you select your Diamond, and you’ll receive weekly updates on your ring’s progress. It will be expertly crafted using our proprietary diamond setting technique, which maximizes the brilliance of each diamond – this is why our clients say their ring sparkles more than their friends’ rings. Once it’s finished, you may either pick up your ring at the studio if you’re in San Diego, or we can ship it complimentary fully insured to your home or office. If necessary, it can be resized soon after the proposal at no extra charge.
I do not live in San Diego. How does that work with the design process?
Information specifically for out-of-town clients: CLICK HERE
I've had so-so experiences with jewelry stores and am admittedly dreading the idea of doing this all wrong. How is your company different?
We are VERY different from other stores. It is quite rare to have the opportunity to work directly with the artist who will be creating your ring. There will be zero miscommunication because nothing goes through a “salesperson”. We put a tremendous amount of time and energy into creating each ring and this is why we have a perfect 100% rating of happy clients (we’ve literally never had a client dislike their ring… EVER).
Plus, we offer the ‘Making of Your Ring’ DVD service, which is the only one of its kind in the world (we’ve checked). This DVD documents the creation of her engagement ring. We briefly interview you saying wonderful things about your girlfriend and then layer that voiceover onto the footage of creating her one-of-a-kind ring, exclusively for her. Women LOVE it. Our whole purpose as a jeweler is to make the moment where you present her with the engagement ring the most amazing memory ever. Based on how women react to the film, it really makes each piece a cherished work of art. This film will make you look VERY romantic. It’s not a requirement to do the film as a client of VNJ, but it’s a service that is offered if you’re interested. Look here for more information about it, as well as watch examples of Client Films: CLICK HERE
What do custom engagement rings typically cost?
Complete engagement rings from Vanessa Nicole Jewels start at $8,000. The main variable that makes the final price fluctuate is the center stone. It’s important to know your budget upfront. This will determine your options for the ring design, as well as determine how much we can apply towards the center stone.
The purpose for knowing your budget is so Vanessa has a max # to approach her trusted diamond dealers with when making the selection. The price of a diamond is based on many factors and she will source the best/largest diamond that fits within your desired number. Vanessa Nicole Jewels doesn’t keep an inventory of diamonds because this allows us to seek out the best possible diamond based on your desires rather than be forced to just sell what we own.
Fire & brilliance are absolutely #1 when it comes to searching for the perfect selection, yet there is no grade for “Fire” or “Brilliance” on a certificate, so you can rely on our trained eyes to keep those factors in mind when putting together your Diamond Selection. We have relationships with the top diamond dealers in the country who only sell ethical diamonds that abide by the Kimberley Process. Based on your answers in the Questionnaire, we select gorgeous diamonds for you to choose from. Vanessa will show you a selection of diamonds within a range up to your max # and let you choose the one that stands out the most. All will be gorgeous quality.
***Vanessa approaches clients about diamonds in the most upfront manner possible because she doesn’t agree with the BS that a lot of salespeople say when showing diamonds. It either has fire & brilliance or it doesn’t. Period. It’s either gorgeous or it’s not. Period.
What is the investment for the Making of The Ring™ video?
This priceless film service is $500. It highlights the entire creation of her custom engagement ring. Based on how women react to the films, it really makes each piece a cherished work of art. This film will make you look VERY romantic and women love it! Look here for more information about this service, as well as watch examples of Client Films: CLICK HERE
Do you supply the diamond for my ring?
We provide diamonds for nearly 100% of the rings we create. If you happen to already have a diamond, such as an heirloom stone, we can certainly create a custom setting for it. Vanessa Nicole Jewels doesn’t keep an inventory of diamonds because this allows us to seek out the best possible diamond based on your desires rather than be forced to just sell what we own. Fire & brilliance are absolutely #1 when it comes to searching for the perfect selection, yet there is no grade for “Fire” or “Brilliance” on a certificate, so you can rely on our trained eyes to keep those factors in mind when putting together your Diamond Selection.
Based on your answers in the Questionnaire, we select gorgeous diamonds for you to choose from. Vanessa will show you a selection of diamonds within a range below and up to your ideal budget, then you get to choose the one that stands out the most. All will be gorgeous quality. ***Vanessa approaches clients about diamonds in the most upfront manner possible because she doesn’t agree with the BS that a lot of salespeople say when showing diamonds. It either has fire & brilliance or it doesn’t. Period. It’s either gorgeous or it’s not. Period.
Can you easily guide me to choose the best diamond?
Of course! 99.9% of our clients aren’t diamond experts. You are great at YOUR job and we are great at ours. We would not expect you to know everything there is to know about diamond rings, just like you would not expect us to know much about what you do for a living. Our clients are Engineers, Lawyers, Techies, Majors in the US Army, Geologists, etc.
We are experts when it comes to diamonds, so rest assured we’ll help you select an amazing diamond and create an absolutely spectacular setting for it. Our reputation is built on happy clients and we intend to keep our reviews 5 stars.
I may be tempted to purchase an "internet diamond" …
A diamond from Vanessa Nicole Jewels is not considered an “internet diamond”. Purchasing an “internet diamond” is a risky proposition. In that case, you simply “scroll, click & buy” the diamond and cross your fingers it looks good in person. Typically, the diamonds on virtual inventory lists are not actually seen by the company selling them – it is simply a large database. The problem with this is you can’t rely 100% on the certificate to determine a diamond’s beauty & brilliance. At Vanessa Nicole Jewels, we are your trained eyes. We personally sift through dozens of diamonds based on your Questionnaire answers to seek out an elite selection that will all be *gorgeous* options. Our #1 factor in finding a diamond is the fire/brilliance.
Internet sites selling diamonds won’t create customized HD videos in various lighting conditions, detailed emails, point out the pros/cons, & invest time into researching multiple diamond dealers in order to put together a selection that will have a careful balance of what you’re looking for while still staying within budget. We don’t charge extra for this service.
Virtual diamond websites that only offer a video of the diamond spinning on a stage does NOT show the true optical properties of the diamonds. Our competitors show you only one lighting environment that isn’t realistic to the daily lighting you will see it in. We will show you diamond options in 3 lighting environments that mimic everyday viewing conditions. You can’t even compare the service. Some consider Vanessa Nicole Jewels like a concierge that goes above and beyond for clients, but honestly, we simply treat each client like a friend (being real & upfront, with no gimmicks). This is exactly why we’ve never had a ring returned, and why we receive dozens of Christmas cards from clients. When was the last time you put a retail store on your personal Christmas Card list? This is because we really get to know each client, and actually care about making this an amazing experience for you. As you can see from all our Reviews, each client has been ecstatic 100% of the time with their experience and final result.
I am not sure if I am ready to commit yet. Can we still do a Diamond Selection?
We do the diamond selection for clients who are prepared to make a diamond choice. Of course, there is no obligation to purchase at that point, but it’s really rare for someone not to choose one. We spend significant time to source an amazing selection of diamonds based on exactly what you hope to see, so it’s really rare for us not to find something you absolutely love. We hold the diamonds on a 5 day courtesy hold off the open market while you make a confident decision.
Once you’ve chosen a diamond, we require at least a 50% deposit to get started making your custom ring. Most people take care of the full payment at the start, but we only require 50% down, so you can simply choose whichever works best for you.
After we finalize the design and do the Diamond Selection, how long do I have to make a decision?
Once you’ve selected your diamond from the Diamond Selection, as a courtesy, we offer a 5 day hold period for the diamond before payment is required. Typically with any type of item for sale anywhere, it’s first come first serve, but our holding period is a courtesy so no one else can have it while you make a confident decision – we never want anyone to feel pressured! (If you plan to do a bank transfer or send a check to save 1.5%, we understand the Post Office or bank transfer lag times may hold it up for a few days. No worries, we’re real people, not a computer so we’re reasonable when it comes to that sort of thing.
Once you’ve chosen a diamond, we require at least a 50% deposit to get started making your custom ring. Most people take care of the full payment at the start, but we only require 50% down, so you can simply choose whichever works best for you.
What goes into the price of a diamond?
There are many factors to consider when trying to pinpoint the price of a diamond such as Color, Clarity, etc. Here are a few more factors that come into play.
1. SHAPE: Round diamonds are generally more expensive than other shapes simply because 92% of people choose round diamonds – there is a high demand for them.
2. DIAMOND MARKET: The diamond market fluctuates (most often quarterly, sometimes monthly). It is based on demand for specific carat weights, stone shapes, desired color, etc. So if someone bought a round 1ct diamond a year ago, that price may be lower or higher now based on what the world market is dictating.
3. WHERE YOU BUY FROM: If someone purchases a diamond from a brand like Tiffany or Harry Winston, one would spend considerably more for the same diamond than they would from an independent jeweler. And once it’s out of that blue box, no one would even know that it’s a diamond bought from Tiffany. Similarly, if you purchase a diamond from a discount online retailer, there are numerous horror stories about getting a poor quality diamond since they just chose based on the certificate. It’s very easy for an online “shop” to close at their own convenience, thus eliminating the option to return it. A smart option would be to discuss your ring with an independent jeweler such as Vanessa Nicole Jewels.
Do you sell clarity enhanced or laser drilled diamonds?
Vanessa Nicole Jewels does NOT sell clarity enhanced or laser drilled diamonds unless specifically requested from a client. (Click For More Info)
Are your diamonds Conflict-Free?
Our diamonds are guaranteed to be conflict-free based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees with partners who are known to us and share a kindred commitment to humanitarian rights. Our diamonds are produced in accordance with the United Nations Kimberley Process in cooperation with legitimate sources NOT involved in funding conflict. The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. The trade in these illicit stones has fueled decades of devastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. (UN Compliance Statement Regarding the Kimberly Process: For any product fabricated from rough diamonds mined from January 1, 2003 onward, our vendors certify that the diamonds provided have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. They guarantee that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by their supplier of these diamonds.)
How can I judge clarity?
During the process of a diamond’s growth there are several factors, such as pressure, temperature, and cooling, that may alter or may change the diamond’s structure. When these changes occur it may cause inclusions in the diamond; in fact, creating the diamond’s own unique fingerprint. Clarity is graded upon a multitude of factors: the number of inclusions, the intensity of the inclusion, the position of the inclusion, the color of the inclusion, the structural integrity of the inclusion, etc. These imperfections may range from barely perceptible growth lines which may not even be visible under a 10 x microscope, to major dark spots that are visible to the naked eye.
Clarity is graded upon a multitude of factors: the number of inclusions, the intensity of the inclusion, the position of the inclusion, the color of the inclusion, the structural integrity of the inclusion, etc. As in the grading of color, there are no natural divisions along these grades, but organizations like the GIA and EGL have attempted to provide a set of standards to be used when grading the clarity of diamonds. The grades may vary from one diamond dealer to the next. For instance, an inclusion under the table should be graded lower than a spot near the edge. Or if it’s a black inclusion vs. a white inclusion. It is important for the customer to understand that the process of grading for clarity is not an exact science, but there are guidelines which determine the grade.
Why are there no A, B, C color grades?
In order to avoid confusion with a multitude of differing, previously existing grading systems, the GIA / EGL system was created. “D” was designated as the highest color grade. This system is now recognized worldwide.
What's a Certified Diamond?
A certified diamond is a diamond that has been weighed, measured, color graded. Its cut is determined at a major laboratory by individuals trained in diamond quality. These individuals grade and certify diamonds daily as a profession.
ORDERS AND PAYMENTS
What Methods of Payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, Discover, Mastercard, Check & Bank Wire. (All international payments are required via bank wire)
We also have financing options available. If you pay via check or bank wire within the USA, you will receive a 1.5% discount on the subtotal.
For rings over $40,000 please inquire for special payment information.
Only a 50% deposit is required to begin creating your ring after we do the Diamond Selection, and the remaining balance is due once the ring has been completed. Most people take care of the payment upfront, but you have the option to do a 50% deposit. All rings that are less than $5,000 (such as wedding bands) must be paid in full upfront.
Do you offer Financing?
Yes, we do offer financing! Click here to learn more about financing options. While most people take care of payment in full, we only require a 50% deposit to begin creating your ring, and the remaining balance is due once the ring has been completed. All rings that are less than $5,000 (such as wedding bands) must be paid in full upfront.
How do I insure my ring?
We always recommend insurance for your engagement ring and/or wedding bands. It is the ONE material item you wear that literally takes a beating every day. Like a car, it will need a “tune up” every so often to make sure the diamonds are tight. All our appraisals are done from an outside source so there is no bias towards the value of the ring. If this is something you need for insurance purposes, we can have it ready when you receive the completed ring. You could get it appraised elsewhere later, or we can have it done now if you prefer to take care of everything at once. We recommend a company for insurance that only deals with jewelry, such as Jewelers Mutual, which Vanessa personally uses. They can supply a free quote for insurance, which you can compare to any other quotes you may receive. Further Reading: www.JewelersMutual.com
What if I don't know what ring style is perfect for her?
We understand that some men might not be sure what she’ll want, especially if it’s a total surprise without any hints. If you prefer, you may choose a diamond, propose with a solitaire diamond ring, and then design her ring style afterward, together. Vanessa will write a personalized note to your new fiancé describing how amazing you are that you wanted her to have the opportunity to design her *dream* ring.
How do I find out her ring size?
If you are surprising her, email us a photo of her and Vanessa will make an educated size estimate. (We’re usually spot on!!) The most accurate way to find out a ring size is to have her finger sized locally. (Be sure to have it sized for the correct width of the band since the size increases the wider the band is. Also, a right hand ring will be slightly bigger than a left hand ring.)
Can we have the ring resized if necessary?
Yes – and it’s complimentary! If you’re out of town, you may either take your ring to a local jeweler or ship it back to us. Ring sizing takes up to 3 business days depending on the volume in our jewelry studio. (Sometimes the same day, if possible) Please note that full eternity rings cannot be resized.
Is it okay that my girlfriend will be involved in picking out her ring?
Absolutely! In fact, a lot of our clients work with us “as a couple.” Typically what happens is she will let us know the design she loves, as well as the shape of diamond she desires. Then we work with you to pick out the best diamond. Plus, we have fun ways of adding in surprises for her that she won’t be expecting.
What's an Appraisal?
The Appraisal is necessary for Insurance purposes. An appraisal gives the ring a replacement value. We don’t personally do Appraisals in order to ensure there is no bias on the ring’s value, but we have someone locally who provides them and we simply pass on their wholesale rate to you, so it can all be taken care of when the ring is complete.
Will I be charged Sales Tax?
Sales tax of 7.75% is charged to clients residing within the State of California. No Sales Tax will be charged to orders shipped outside the State of California.
Do you make matching wedding bands?
Definitely! You can either choose a straight band or one that is sculpted to rest flat against your engagement ring.
Do you also offer men's wedding bands?
We sure do! We can make custom men’s bands out of 14k/18k gold (white, yellow or rose), or Platinum.
WARRANTY & RETURN POLICY
What is your return policy for the ring setting?
All custom rings are non-refundable, HOWEVER, if for some reason your new fiancé isn’t thrilled with the design of her ring, we’ll make a new ring setting to her specifications if returned within 15 days of receiving the original engagement ring. The original cost of the ring setting materials will be put toward the new one.
Each custom ring is created from scratch upon order and every effort will be made to ensure that the jewelry is exactly what you requested. You will have the opportunity to see your ring from various 3-D views in the CAD model before actually creating the ring, so you know exactly what to expect with the final product. In the event that you are less than completely satisfied, we will make every effort to resolve the issue to your approval. We want you to LOVE your jewelry for a lifetime. (We’ve never had this happen though –even with the pickiest of clients– so we’re pretty confident she’ll love it!)
Vanessa Nicole Jewels understands that some men might not be sure of whether or not their girlfriend will like their design choice. The #1 reason women say they love their ring is because of the thought he put into it. When one buys a ring from an inventory at an overstocked retail store, it’s like “shopping.” This, rather, is being involved in creating a piece of art for her finger. While there is a price tag on the ring, the connection your girl will make with her custom ring is priceless. One client’s fiancé said she would be more devastated if she lost her VNJ ring versus one from a traditional store simply because “this ring means more”.
What is your Warranty for the ring setting?
We build all of our rings to last, instead of using the thinnest metal possible such as mass-manufactured jewelry companies. While thinner metal helps to keep the cost down, it makes the ring structurally weaker and we want to keep your ring wearable for your lifetime and beyond. Should a small diamond fall out of your custom ring (.03ctw or less), we will replace it up to a stone value of $200.00 USD at No Charge for one full year from your pickup date. After one year, it is considered more of a maintenance repair so we would simply charge for the stone & labor.
The chain stores that offer a lifetime guarantee require that you bring it in every six months (to the exact day) for a check up. You must also have the original paper slip on hand each time for them to sign – if you lose it, the guarantee is voided. You can bet how many guarantees get voided when life takes over after a couple years.
As standard with many jewelry stores, the maintenance, repair, sizing or other service performed by someone other than the original maker (Vanessa Nicole Jewels) will void your 1 yr Manufacturer Warranty. Sometimes it's more convenient to size your ring locally. This can void your warranty because we cannot be held accountable for any outside work on the ring. The jeweler who crafts the ring and knows their product is able to better take care of necessary adjustments without complication.
Most manufacturing defects will show up quickly, usually within the first month of wear.
Manufacturing defects refer to the structure of the jewelry item, such as a band separating from the ring head due to a weak soldering joint, a deep pit on the metal, or a prong not fully tightened over a small stone. Jewelers can inspect a prong to see if it looks as though it’s been lifted/smushed during normal wear n' tear causing a small stone to fall out vs. a prong perfectly intact that simply wasn’t pushed over all the way to protect the diamond.
Bending of a ring is not considered a defect in materials or workmanship. Do not expose your ring to harsh chemicals or environments, as they can alter the appearance. These include, but are not limited to pools, hot tubs, and spas.
We have major incentive to make sure each ring is made correctly upfront since most of our clients are not local. That being said, rings are worn every day so it is possible a small stone could fall out on delicate micro pavé rings – It can easily be taken care of locally or sent back to our studio for repair.
More than 70% of our clients are not local, so we have the process very dialed in for creating an easy & smooth experience for you (as shown by all our 5-star client reviews).
It is important that your ring is insured under an insurance policy, since the maximum liability we can accept is $200.00. We do not guarantee against gemstones breaking or chipping. All Gemstones can crack, break or chip, even diamonds! You should add all fine jewelry to an insurance policy, such as Jewelers Mutual, which typically protects against loss, damage or theft.
How will my order be shipped?
All orders are shipped via UPS ‘Fully Insured’ and ‘Signature Required’. This means that your order will be delivered safely and will be fully insured until you have opened your package. All shipments are packaged discreetly with NO indication that your package contains any type of jewelry item. Our name, “Vanessa Nicole Jewels”, will not appear on your package either. Instead the company acronym, VNJ, is printed on the package. We can also send it to your work place if that is more convenient. We have never had an issue sending packages via UPS, which is why we happily use them as our shipping method.
What if the package is damaged upon arrival?
Insurance coverage on shipped packages ends upon delivery. When you accept the package, examine it thoroughly to ensure the security of your package has not been violated. Do this BEFORE SIGNING for it. If you suspect tampering or damage REFUSE DELIVERY and call us immediately at 619-800-0134. All orders are shipped double-boxed to maintain the integrity of packaging in the inner box. If you receive a box with damage showing on the outer box or you suspect tampering, open the outer box IN FRONT OF THE DELIVERY PERSON and MAKE SURE THE INNER BOX IS INTACT. If there is damage, file a report with the driver, get a written confirmation and call us immediately.
Click HERE to view our custom engagement ring gallery.
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