Jewel Journal

OLIVIA + MARK’S STORY

This week’s Love Story begins in a land far, far away… Singapore! Introducing Olivia and Mark, a down-to-earth couple that has a lust for life, adventure and their pup, Zorro. Mark first came into the showroom when he was in town in 2019, and after a few different visits (with his sweet mother by his side!) and a bit of back-and-forth on a narrowed down selection, he decided to merge two rings together that both had elements that Mark saw as Olivia’s perfect ring. A few months later – voila! We were ecstatic to see them engaged and are so happy to be sharing their love story this week.

Names: Mark Saavedra and Liv Blanchette

Current Location: Washington, D.C.

Meeting Date + Location: July, 2014 in Singapore

Wedding Date + Location: January, 2021 in Antigua, Guatemala!

How did you meet? We met in Singapore, where I was interning for the summer and Mark had just started a new assignment. We connected so well that we kept in touch after I returned to the States. We found a common taste in music and for a few months our relationship was solely sharing music back and forth over email! We officially started dating when I moved to Shanghai, about six months later.

The proposal – please tell us the story! Mark and I both love road-trips and the outdoors, so for the long Columbus Day weekend this past October, we packed up our dog and went on something of a spontaneous road trip south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There was one hike that I had really wanted to do because of the fall foliage, so on our last day before turning back north, we drove out to it and hiked up.  While we were enjoying the view of the waterfall at the peak all by ourselves, Mark hugged me and said I was his favorite person. Then he reached in his pocket and while I was asking him what he was doing and he was replying “nothing,” he knelt down and asked me to spend the rest of our lives together. I was completely surprised – so much so that I was a little upset that he hadn’t even made me shower that morning! After enjoying our happiest of moments together, the intimacy broke when a small crowd cheered – hooray! – from another viewpoint across the gorge who we had no idea were bearing witness to the start of our lifelong commitment.

When did you know that your significant other was the one?

Liv: I knew after I spent Christmas with Mark’s family in the Philippines after about six months of dating. His family is so wonderful and welcoming, they made me feel completely at home. Months earlier, on one of our first dates in Hong Kong, I had lost my high school ring, which was devastating. I went to an all-girls high school that is big on quirky traditions, of which getting your ring is one of the biggest. We spent hours retracing our steps all over Hong Kong searching, but never found it. Mark didn’t just work with my high school to replace the ring and the original engraving as a gift for Christmas, but he also contacted my family, friends, and teachers from high school to recreate some of the traditions from when I got it AND made a video of it all for me. It still makes me cry to think about it! It was hands-down the most romantic and all-around wonderful thing anyone has ever done for me. I knew then that I wanted to celebrate all of our future Christmases together.

Mark:  I sensed early on in our relationship that Liv was special but knew after one of our first trips together to Cambodia and Vietnam that she was truly one of a kind.  In Cambodia, we supported the Water for Life project volunteering to construct and install bio-sand water filters in village households to provide convenient access to clean drinking water, reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases and improve hygiene and sanitation conditions.  Afterwards, we traveled throughout Vietnam on buses, trains, motorcycles, tuk-tuks and boats, learned about Vietnamese history, culture and traditions, and made lots of stops to soak in its natural beauty and enjoy the delicious cuisine.  Despite the challenges, including transportation mishaps, lost luggage and having her purse stolen, she maintained her high-spirited nature (mostly) throughout the trip.  I realized then that her thirst for adventure was equal to mine and that I wanted to create memorable experiences with her all over the world.

What is your favorite thing about your significant other?

Liv: How he handles tough situations- not only is he unwaveringly calm, but no matter how angry, frustrated, or sad I am, he can always, without fail, make me laugh, even if I don’t want to. That he takes his time doing everything (also one of my least favorite things about him, depending on the situation). And, of course, his taste in music and his love for adventure- the two things that brought us together!

Mark: A few of my favorite things about Liv are characteristics we share in common, including her insatiable wanderlust and love for nature, plants and animals – especially our beloved pup “Zorro.”  I am always impressed by her empathy towards others and willingness to sacrifice.  Liv’s compassion and altruistic intentions are contagious and I am a better person for it.  Her fondness of simple pleasures and devotion to her friends and family are also reasons why she is my favorite person 🙂

Mark, what made you choose this ring?

After I visited SKFJ, I found a few rings that caught my attention.  All were beautiful and elegant in their own way and I left thinking that any one of them would be great.  I knew Liv would love any ring that I chose for her, but I really wanted it to be special.  I had a good sense of what would be most meaningful but also consulted Liv’s mom and brought my mom to SKFJ for emotional support (kidding).  When I returned a couple months later, I was relieved to see that my favorite two rings were still available.  I really drawn to the unique octagonal cut diamond on one ring and the natural earthiness of the twig branch band on another.  I had the idea of combining the two element together and fortunately Sofia was on site that day who agreed this was a great concept and worked with me forge the perfect ring for Liv (thanks Sofia!).

Do you have any notable stories that have stood out over the years – hilarious, sentimental, anything!

We always joke about opening a breakfast restaurant called “the flying wekka” because of something that happened to us while backpacking in New Zealand, where they have these duck-sized flightless birds called “wekkas.” One night a giant wekka crawled under the flap of our tent and got caught under the rain-fly, practically on top of us. We panicked and of course at the last moment before Mark was able to pop the fly to release the Wekka, it took a massive poop that seeped into the tent, getting all over our sleeping bags. “The Flying Wekka” would commemorate how badly we wanted to punt that wekka and make it “fly.”

How is wedding planning going? Do you have any advice for planning a wedding?

Wedding planning has been way tougher than we expected, but we’re getting more and more excited every day. Our advice would be to not ask for other people’s opinions until you’re ready for them. Oh, and I have a few favorite wedding planning podcasts that I would definitely recommend!

What are you most excited about for your wedding?

While we would love to celebrate in Nicaragua where we lived together for two years, we decided to have the wedding in Antigua, Guatemala, which is one of our favorite places in Central America. We are super excited to share one of our favorite little corners of the world with all our family and friends!

Are you going to honeymoon? Our wedding is kind of like a honeymoon that we’re sharing with all our guests, so probably not!

If you could add any piece to your SKFJ collection, which one would it be?

Liv: I love some of the petite boulder opal pieces, like the drip earrings and the ring- so stunning.

Alright – so what’s next for the two of you?!

I work in international environmental conservation and Mark is diplomat in the Foreign Service.  We will be in Washington, DC for another year and a half then off to wherever in the world this adventure called life takes us!

Do you have an engaging story to share of how you met your love? Stop by here and share for your chance to be the next featured Love Story!

JENNA + BROGAN’S STORY

This week we are featuring a sweet couple that was truly a treat to work with, Jenna and Brogan. From the moment that Brogan walked into our Santa Monica showroom with a custom hummingbird (common theme!) ring idea in mind to when he left with a beautiful (seriously – one of our favorite diamonds to date!) Old European Simple Solitaire, to bringing his soon-to-be bride, Jenna, into the showroom after he popped the question, they were a pleasure to have and we can’t wait to see where life takes them. Read on for this story of two lovebirds!

Names: Jenna Harling & Brogan Dunphy

Current Location: Palms, CA

Meeting Location: Santa Monica, CA

Meeting Date: 7/3/2015

Wedding Location + Date: 10/11/2020 in Camarillo, CA

The day you met… tell us everything!

Jenna: We met the night before Independence Day, 2015. I had just moved back from my completing my MBA in Scotland & Brogan had bonded with some of my old high school friends but we had yet to meet. I was headed down to the beach with a friend when I came upon Brogan and two of our mutual friends waiting for dinner reservations. Our eyes met & it was like the world melted away. I got butterflies & I could feel the static electricity between us. They invited us to join them & we decided to take them up on the offer. He was not only handsome but the conversation flowed freely, always finding a way to make me laugh. Having just moved back, we took it slow & after a couple of years of floating in & out of each other’s lives, we decided to make it official. It’s been a dream ever since, always finding ways to make the other smile or show each other how much we love one another. We’re constantly building each other up & learning how to blossom into our better selves. He is the turtle to my hummingbird, my perfect complement & other half.

Ok… so how did he pop the question! 

Jenna: During our annual Ugly Sweater Party, I thought I was planning a typical evening with friends & family. While I was busy hosting, Brogan was busy planning his surprise proposal. Everyone seemed to know what would happen but me! Working with our closest friends, he had my best friend plant a neatly wrapped box under the tree with a beautiful (handmade) hummingbird to draw me in. During the number draw, he let me pick both numbers (a back-up in case I didn’t choose his present), landing me with an 11 & 14. During the White Elephant exchange, when it was my turn to pick, he nonchalantly pointed out the beautiful gift. I gasped in delight & unknowingly questioned “who put a hummingbird on it?! Did you do it on purpose?” As I start to unwrap the present, Brogan slips past to prepare. I’m busy focusing on carefully unwrapping the present, with the palpable tension in the air, everyone with their cameras up to catch the moment.  As our friends & family jokingly tried to hurry me along for the next number, I opened the lid & removed a piece of paper with the words “Will you marry me?”. I look up & Brogan is down on one knee. I was in utter disbelief & quietly questioned if this was real before smiling, “Of course.” With a kiss & hearts filled with happiness, he slipped the most delicate, sparkly engagement ring on my finger & voila, we were engaged!

When did you know that your significant other was the one?

Brogan: I knew when I told her I loved her. We’ve had a natural progression in our relationship to where we’ve been able to know each other as people then friends and more than friends and next family.

Jenna: I knew when he’d find ways to just be there for me, never expecting anything in return other than my smile or laugh. Maybe even from the first day we met & I felt the electricity between our souls.

What is your favorite thing about your significant other?

Brogan: I could never pick one thing about Jenna. Her smile gives my soul shivers, her laugh makes me feel complete. Her intentions with every interaction are more pure than imaginable, she shares enough love to save the world. Jenna Harling is my unicorn.

Jenna: I don’t know if there’s only one favorite, I love the way he makes me want to be a better person. He’s thoughtful, kind, selfless, confident, always going above & beyond to make those around him feel special. He’d give the shirt off his back to someone in need, all while working toward a goal to always be better than he was yesterday.

Brogan, what made you choose this stunning Old European Simple Solitaire ring?!

I found SKFJ when I first started planning the proposal. My initial thought was that we could custom design something with hummingbirds (Jenna shares a special relationship with them). I met with some of the ladies in the office and discussed options on the custom piece all whilst sharing the SKFJ online gallery with Jenna’s closest friends. I stumbled upon the simple solitaire and immediately thought it was perfect. Jenna and I had begun to discuss the next step of engagement and unwittingly came into SKFJ to “explore her favorite styles”. Jenna made her way around the showroom & chose the same simple solitaire I had picked as her dream ring.

Do you have any notable stories that have stood out over the years – hilarious, sentimental, anything!

We landed a free trip to Hawaii about a month into our relationship. As a couple we are a pretty lucky team. All our friends thought we were going to elope… we can do our 50-year wedding ceremony in Hawaii.

What’s your favorite go-to date night idea?

We love going to museums, art galleries or local cultural activities. We also enjoy finding new recipes to cook at home or dressing up for a nice dinner out on the town.

How is wedding planning going? Do you have any advice for planning a wedding?

Planning a wedding can be quite the undertaking for anyone/everyone involved. That being said…communication is a wonderful tool in all relationships. Establishing an understanding early on of what each person wants to be involved in, can help you divide & conquer. Starting early is key, it helps reduce the overall stress and there are plenty of blogs & Pinterest boards to help you plan the perfect wedding!

What are you most excited about for your wedding?

Having all of our friends and family in one place to celebrate the love Jenna and I get to share daily!

Are you going to honeymoon?

Definitely! Possibly Maldives’ & Sri Lanka but we’ll wait until the weather is better – perhaps May 2021.

Alright – so what’s next for the two of you?!

Wedding, honeymoon, house, and finally kids!

Do you have an engaging story to share of how you met your love? Stop by here and share for your chance to be the next featured Love Story!