Jeweler Lance Shapiro wants to put a ring on it — for both of you
JEF TINGLEY | Contributing Writer
From Wagner to J.R.R. Tolkien, rings have always held a precious place in popular culture, representing everything from unending love to unbreakable bonds. And with marriage equality gaining ground, more same-sex couples are finding themselves in a position to be able to choose the perfect collection of metals and jewels to display their unending commitment.
When it comes to designing rings that will stand the test of time, Lance Shapiro, owner and designer of Shapiro Diamonds, advises couples to skip the trends and create unique pieces that reflect personal touches in their love story.
“Your love is completely unique, and your rings should be as well,” says Shapiro, who has designed a host of custom rings for same-sex couples.
Nothing is out of bounds when it comes to customizing, it seems. Among some of his favorite creations were matching bands with diamonds, intertwined initials and an ambigram, with the date the couple met spelled in Arabic, as well as the shape of island where they first laid eyes on each other. For another client, the rings were imprinted with each other’s fingerprints. Another duo, who happened to be New Orleans Saints fans, opted to incorporate fleur de lis into their design. The possibilities are endless and as diverse as the couples themselves.
Historically, experts advised about three-months salary as a general budget rule of thumb for engagement rings, but Shapiro says that this “rule” — like so many traditional customs in today’s modern world — is changing.
“We are seeing our clients choosing to spend more on their rings, which will last a lifetime, and less on their wedding, which will last only one day,” he says. But he’s careful to add that having a budget in mind before shopping is the key to a more enjoyable — and affordable — ring-buying process. And while matching gold bands are still acceptable for swapping with your loved one at the altar, that’s hardly the requirement nowadays.
Among the rings Shapiro has sold to same-sex couples, he says that traditional white diamonds continue to be a frontrunner, based mostly on their simplistic beauty. But popularity isn’t the only consideration — he’s also seeing more frequent usage of alternative color stones like black diamonds, yellow diamonds and other precious colored gemstones.
“This allows clients truly to personalize their rings, creating one-of-a-kind sets that are as unique and special as their individual love story,” he says.
For male-male couples, Shapiro continues to see low-profile bands dominating the choices, but increasingly these have embellishments, from small accent diamonds to even a large center diamond.
“These stone are still set low-profile so as not to look overly feminine, yet they still allow men to have the sparkle they deserve,” he says.
For female-female couples, Shapiro confirms that, indeed, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Regardless of the union (same-sex or opposite), women often prefer a traditional (large) center diamond, sometimes accented by smaller diamonds or surrounded by a diamond halo. In this instance, after the ceremony the wedding band is many times added to the engagement ring to create a two-ring set.
For couples looking to break with tradition, alternative metals such as yellow gold, rose gold and black gold are gaining in popularity.
“Tungsten carbide is also very much in demand, due to its incredible strength, durability and light weight,” Shapiro says.
Lastly, Shapiro cautions buyers to take into consideration the functionality of the ring as much as the aesthetic for the would-be spouse.
“Medical professionals have difficulties with high-profile settings, because of the rubber gloves they use at work,” he says. “Many choose to have a second ring to wear to work only — a dainty band, with no diamonds. People who enjoy cooking or gardening often select channel settings, which are more durable and sturdy.”
As Beyoncé said, “If you like it then you better put a ring on it.” Little did she know so many decisions about budget, metals and design awaited first.
For more information, visit Shapiro Diamond Showroom & Custom Design Studio, 5420 LBJ Freeway, suite 280. ShapiroDiamonds.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2014.