From our first date in London…
When I was 20, I did an exchange program with King’s College in London so that I could study abroad for a semester. During my last month, I met my now-boyfriend, Alex, on Tinder (of all places). Alex was born and raised in central London, and I fell in love with him—and the city—during that month of early dating and throughout the countless trips across the pond that followed. I felt like I’d met someone I was instantly comfortable with (a rare gem, indeed), and we had a whirlwind romance that turned into a four-year (and counting!) long-distance relationship.
Talks of marriage began a year into our dating, and this past New Year’s Day, I sent Alex a mood board of my engagement ring aesthetic, should he so choose to pop the question. The assortment of sapphires and diamonds, toile ring boxes (very Jessica McCormack!), and inspiration photos of a lavish hotel suite at The Ritz in Paris, plus a Tracy Emin neon sign, neatly summed up my personal style. You might say it was my way of sending good (read: glittering) vibes into the universe. My worst nightmare is the man of my dreams proposing with a ring that just isn’t “me.” Cue the Sex and the City flashback to the episode when Carrie prematurely pulls a now infamous pear-shaped ring out of Aiden’s gym bag that quite literally makes her stomach turn, so Samantha swoops in and he exchanges it for a stylish Asscher cut diamond instead.
With a proposal on the horizon, we’ve window-shopped for engagement rings. But before Alex says those four little words, we both decided to dive head first into the wonderful world of bespoke designs at the jewelry box that is the Jessica McCormack townhouse in Mayfair, London. After all, McCormack has coined “character” as the fifth and most important of the traditional four Cs (carat, cut, clarity, color), which she says, regardless of technicalities, comes down to how the diamond makes you feel.
To our first bespoke ring design experience…
For Alex and me, London is at the heart of our love story, so, naturally, our first stop on the road to “I do” is Jessica McCormack’s beautiful townhouse, where we spent a recent Thursday morning co-designing a potential future engagement ring. Considering it was our first custom wedding ring appointment, neither of us knew quite what to expect, which only made it all the more exciting as we strolled hand-in-hand along the cobblestone streets to 7 Carlos Place. (It also was proof that for couples who may be considering going the custom wedding ring design route, it doesn’t mean sacrificing an element of romance or surprise!).
Having written nearly 1,000 real wedding features for Over The Moon, I’ve seen my fair share of rings by the best jewelry designers in the business, and Jessica McCormack tops the list. Known for her classic yet cool signature design aesthetic, she has an A-list clientele that includes Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Meghan Markle, and Zoë Kraviz, to name a few. During their engagement, Nicky Hilton and James Rothschild worked closely with the designer, making the jewels of their dreams a reality.
From the moment you step into the sixth-floor 19th-century townhouse, you instantly feel at home. The warm wood foundation invites you in, and you will want to stay for a while (if not forever)—it’s the perfect setting for designing heirloom-worthy pieces for a couple’s first of many milestone moments. The menagerie of fine art, artifacts, and library of books that sit amongst the three jewelry floors have been carefully curated by McCormack, who began her career in the jewelry department at Sotheby’s.
Upon walking up the stairs and down an emerald hallway to the Bridal Floor, we were greeted by Jessica McCormack’s team of experts, who gave us a tour of the airy, light-filled space. We marveled at the mix of Edwardian-era and bespoke display jewelry cases, photography by Sally Mann and Erwin Blumenfeld which lines the walls, and a beautiful one-of-a-kind rug by Sussy Cazalet.
I absolutely adored Jessica McCormack bridal manager, Shefali Malontie—and not just because she complimented my Brock Collection x Over The Moon dress. She was exceptionally knowledgable and incredibly patient—she’s the real-life version of an engagement ring fairy godmother, who you also want to be best friends with. Naturally, she was sporting the Bamboo Fine Yellow Gold Ring, which stacks so well and makes for a unique band. The Oval Sapphire and Diamond Halo Ring, pictured above, caught my eye as it resembles Princess Diana’s and now Kate Middleton’s iconic engagement ring only with a double gold band—a shining start to the day.
With the McCormack team’s help, I tried on multiple options from the bridal collection and quickly discovered my affinity for an Eternity ring. The way that the gems encircle my ring finger just feels right, and suddenly, I understand what McCormack means about a diamond with dazzling character. It was also interesting to hear McCormack’s team explain that heart cuts have been the most popular stone shapes for brides recently; Lady Gaga’s engagement ring instantly came to mind. Alex took a liking to the bands featuring blackened gold that married form and function. “They looked wearable for everyday,” he said pragmatically. Working in finance, I knew Alex would also ask about prices, but I was pleasantly surprised when the McCormack team shared a nice range.
The Jessica McCormack signature Button Back rings, which feature buttery smooth, wide settings that rest directly on the finger, are comfortable to wear—perfect for those who are transitioning from not wearing much hand jewelry to never taking a piece off of their ring finger. Meghan Markle famously wore the Signature Sapphire Heart Button Back Ring to Wimbledon in 2019. The Button Back baubles in white gold also make the diamonds appear more voluminous—which is a plus for my sparkle-loving eyes. It felt surreal and oh-so-special to be surrounded by that much bling. I felt like a kid in a 100-carat candy store.
Ultimately, I fell in love with the Mermaid Old Mine Diamond Ring from the Signature Collection. It’s unique and speaks to four-year-old me, who told a teacher that I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. However, I would take advantage of the bespoke experience and the in-house workshop to make the ring completely my own. While I tend to gravitate toward a more-is-more look for my future engagement ring, I did find that my round-cut carat limit sits around three—anything larger takes over my hand entirely–and the one in the mermaid ring is a bit too large.
Still, we both agreed on what fun it would be the play with changing the blackened gold to white gold and switching the cut to an emerald or an oval. You might say that this experience has awoken the inner jewelry designer in me. I’ll be reuniting with the McCormack team in late autumn when Alex and I have a follow-up appointment. With the first sketches in hand and promptly put on a new and exclusively Jessica McCormack engagement ring mood board, I’ve since joked to friends that if I’m not proposed to with that ring, I just might have to decline—(Hint, hint, Alex, my ring size is a 5 1/2!).