A lot of big names in the jewelry world have been revamping their engagement ring collections and marketing campaigns in an effort to appeal to millennials. Well, the designers and founders of Jemma Wynne—Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin—don’t have to try getting into the mind of the millennials. They are millennials and they know exactly what type of engagement rings their generation wants. The design duo’s bridal collection is one of the best and most imaginative available today. I sat down with the designers to learn all about it.
What inspired the engagement ring collection?
Jenny: For my eighth wedding anniversary, I wanted something new and cool that was more representative of Jemma Wynne. Casual luxury is our philosophy and I wasn’t wearing my ring because the setting was too fancy and traditional feeling. One of the things we are known for is our open bangles. We mimicked the shape with an open ring. I used my original Asscher-shape diamond on one side and added another to the other side. When it was done, I knew it was a piece I wanted to wear every day.
Stephanie: Jenny’s ring really started the collection. When ELLE’s Accessories Director, Maria Dueñas Jacobs [another millennial with amazing taste] saw it she asked us to make her an open ring using a pear-shape stone she had received from her family. When Maria showed her ring on Instagram a lot people reacted and it catapulted us into the bridal category.
What I love about your collection is it feels alternative and eternal at the same time. How do you achieve that balance?
Jenny: The small details are what make the designs different. The way the stones are set at an angle or in an east-west direction [sideways]. Our east-west marquise ring has been very popular. We recently mounted an oval in the same way and that looked great. The bezel setting that surrounds the stones on some rings also looks of modern. When we use prongs, we make them as unobtrusive as possible. Our goal is to show off the shape of a gem.
Speaking of the gem’s shapes, you use a vast array from pears, marquise, Asschers and even shield shapes and diamond lips. You rarely use round brilliant-cuts, the most popular diamond shape for engagement rings. Why is that?
Stephanie: The fancy diamond shapes add something different to the designs especially when they are set in unique ways. The diamond lips was a really quirky undertaking that took us a year to have specially cut. Sometimes people do come to us with a family stone that is a round diamond. We always do something different with it like set it in a hexagon border of small diamonds.
When it comes to gems you don’t use typically alternative stones like diamond slices or black diamonds. You use diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Why have you stuck with these traditional stones?
Jenny: Precious gems provide the refined look that we like for the rings. The ruby is kind of new to the collection. People are becoming interested in them again. The emerald and diamond open rings are one of our most popular gem combinations. Nice emeralds can be a lot less expensive than two diamonds. When the gems are paired together they make a significant and special ring.
In terms of metals you also stick mainly with the classics, yellow gold and platinum. Yet the bands on your rings have a thickness that is unique to engagement rings.
Stephanie: The yellow gold comes from our passion for 70s jewelry and all things 1970s. We love the way the gold accentuates the emeralds. It looks rich and beautiful. In terms of other metals, we do like the authenticity and weightiness of platinum. We have also worked in rose gold and done black rhodium on gold.
Jenny: The thickness of the band makes the rings feels as substantial as an engagement ring should. The width of the bands also makes them feel good. Whenever someone tries on our rings, they mention the nice feeling.
How often do you add new engagement rings to the collection?
Jenny: It doesn’t follow the same flow of the regular collections. The rings are often inspired by a stone or a variation on something we created for a client. We don’t usually launch engagement rings with our collections. The exception to that rule was the engagement rings we did as part of the Signet Privé Luxe collection. The styles are very diamond intensive rings with shield-shape gems at the center.
How do people contact you about your engagement rings?
Stephanie: We get an email through our website. People say, ‘I have a diamond and would like to make it into my engagement ring’ or we begin from scratch. People also find us on social media. They see things on Instagram and connect to us.
Jenny: We guide them through the process. If they are in New York City, we invite them to come to our studio where we work one-on-one with them. It is an intimate process. We love it because we don’t always get to meet our clients since our jewelry is sold through stores across the country and online. The engagement rings are special.