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!

HANA + JAMES’S STORY

It is officially February, and SK Love Stories are back! If you’re new to this series, every week in February we introduce a couple that we have worked with and who have an extra special love story to share. We are kicking off this year’s Stories with a dynamic couple who have been a part of the SKFJ family for quite awhile. Meet Hana Mayeda and James Murray.

From when James happened to “stumble” upon THE ring one day to Hana dripping in SK jewels on their big day, we’ve been so lucky to work with this fun couple over the years. You might even recognize Hana from our last holiday campaign, Dream Dwelling! It’s been such an absolute pleasure to know them – read on for this lively couple’s love story!

Names:  James Murray + Hana Mayeda Murray

Current Location:  Los Angeles + Jackson Hole, WY

Meeting Date + Location:  March 2017 in Ojai, California

Wedding Date + Location: June 8th, 2019 at Cielo Farms in Malibu, California

How did you meet?

Hana: We were at a yoga retreat in Ojai, California. When our eyes caught I was hit by something electric. We waited almost six weeks to officially start dating. It was my feeble attempt to try to control something and somehow pace myself, when in actuality I’d fallen in love with him the moment we met.

The proposal – please tell us the story!

James: I proposed in Sundance, Utah during the film festival. After a fireside lunch we walked around the resort grounds. I had hired a photographer to hide in the snow-covered bushes. When I got on one knee, Hana instantly fell on her knees too. Best yes I’ve ever heard.

Hana: What was funny was that I was the one who suggested we take a walk not knowing that was James’ plan. The setting was exquisite with pristine snow. I almost asked a woman who was shooting with a long lens but instead of interrupting her I pulled out my phone to take a selfie of us. Suddenly James dropped to one knee, and caught me completely off guard and I fell to the ground. Turns out that was the woman James hired so we got beautiful photos from the day after all!

proposal photo

When did you know that your significant other was the one?
James: At first sight. I’d never believed in such stories. Then it totally happened to me. Hana is a deep beauty, equally compassionate and fierce with a heart of gold. I adore her.

What is your favorite thing about your significant other?

Hana: I love his generosity and the way he moves through the world with such intentionality and gratitude. He’s got a pure heart and has spent a career showing up for others – he truly believes in people’s basic goodness. He’s curious and is constantly growing and learning. He’s creative and driven. He’s basically super sensitive + empathic but manly as ****.

What made you choose this ring?

James: I was just holiday shopping on Abbot Kinney and thought, I’ll just go in here look. SK was the first jewelry store I walked into. I looked all over and was about to walk out the door, when I saw the ring. “Uh-oh,” I thought, I’m not going to be able to leave the store without that ring. I asked your stylist what’s the story with this ring. She said “Oh YEAH, we all love that one, we call it the Wonder Woman ring.” It was very different from what Hana had “suggested” so I got it as an “I love you” gift… it was really clear to me that Hana was meant to have it. It immediately became her engagement ring once Hana saw it 🙂

Hana: I’m still blown away. He hit it out of the park.

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

Our relationship has been full of synchronicities and spontaneity since day one. Both avid travelers, a few weeks after we met James asked what places around the world were on my bucket list. The first place I named was Tibet. He said, “I have a friend leading a group there in a few weeks.” The next day he called me and said, “no seriously, do you want to go to Tibet?” Three weeks later we were in the mountains of rural Tibet.

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

We love day dates – like hitting the infrared sauna or going to acupuncture and then getting a burger afterwards. James is a fantastic chef so he’ll make a beautiful dinner or surprise me with tickets to a basketball game or a concert. Or he’ll bring home flowers (always two bouquets!) just because. Seriously, he cooks, cleans and can sweep me off my feet. He’s like a unicorn.

Alright – it’s the morning of your wedding. What’s going through your heads?

Ever the procrastinator, I’d written my vows at 3am the night before when I was too excited to sleep. That morning consisted of a meditation, during which the sun came out for the first time in what felt like weeks, coffee, and GF Gjusta bread with extra butter. It was a whirlwind getting ready – it’s own happy chaos surrounded by my closest girlfriends. I was doing my best to stay grounded and calm but I was so excited, I definitely was jumping all over the place.

What was your favorite part of your wedding?

Our dance was epic. We added a number of personal touches like a custom neon sign, matcha/espresso bar and herbal superfood fresh juice tonics. The best part was seeing our friends and family’s reactions to our dance, the night, and the setting. It’s a cliché but bringing together so many people you love to celebrate love… especially your love… is simply indescribable.

Wedding planning is so different for each couple – what’s your advice for planning a wedding?

Step away from it when it gets stressful. Do something fun with your partner instead. Give yourself permission to be selfish + honor your desires. I had a great team of people helping me which I highly recommend. Remember mistakes will happen the day of and the more you can let them go and laugh at them, the more you enjoy the magic.

James: Definitely do a fun dance. Something that needs to be practiced. It will bring a couple back to love and keep the stress of planning at bay.

Did you honeymoon?

We left right away and went to a spectacular, magical inn on the coast of Northern California called The Inn at Newport Ranch. I was so grateful to James for planning it because I had decision fatigue from planning the wedding. We’re doing a bigger trip this summer to Europe.

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

The necklace I wore on our wedding day. Gah.

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

Lots of travel. Creative projects. Deepening our roots in our homes and enjoying the time as newlyweds. I just asked a woman I know how long we get to be newlyweds. She said, “honey, we’ve been married forty years and a few of these grey hairs of mine are definitely from him, but if you stay in the gratitude and keep listening to each other, you may not technically be newlyweds when you’re my age but you can still feel like that.”

James: more please.

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!

10 TIPS TO HONING IN ON YOUR DREAM ENGAGEMENT RING

DREAM ENGAGEMENT RINGS

One of the most rewarding feelings here at SKFJ is the moment you or your significant other declares  “this is THE ring.” So whether you’re putting together a wishlist to suggest to a special someone or choosing the perfectly suited engagement ring for your honey, we are here to help!

Here are our top 10 tips for honing in on YOUR dream engagement ring.

1) START BY DEFINING YOUR  PERSONAL SENSE OF STYLE

An engagement ring or wedding band is a meaningful and personal symbol to cherish for a lifetime and it should reflect who you are! Are you a minimalist who appreciates natural, understated beauty? A vintage romantic with a love for flair or a touch of drama? Or do you appreciate modern, geometric shapes and clean, smooth textures? Once you’ve defined your style, it will act as a guideline as you enter the world of engagement rings. Need some help pinpointing your style? Take our easy Engagement Ring Style Quiz here!

2) BAND TOGETHER

When choosing an engagement ring, think about if and how you’d like to pair with a wedding band. Do you prefer an evenly stacked set? Do you mind if the band doesn’t sit flush against the engagement ring? Or would you even consider wearing your engagement and wedding band on different hands? (We don’t have rules here!) All these factors play into choosing your wedding band, whether you’re into something on the more simple side like our Classic Three Diamond Wire Band or a more intricate nesting band that fits around your ring, like our Pear Shape Tiara Ring.

3 ) CONSIDER YOUR JEWELRY WARDROBE

Open up your jewel box at home and take some notes! Do you wear primarily yellow gold? Deciding you want to try rose gold for your engagement might not be the best idea if the ring doesn’t pair well with all your other favorites. Take into account what you wear on the daily, and go with your gut on the metal that initially makes the most sense to you.

4) CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE

If you have a profession where you work with your hands (medical professional, artist, etc) choosing a ring with a low profile and bezel might fit in best, rather than something very high set with prongs. If you know you are hard on your jewelry but you love delicate vintage pieces that possibly require extra care, consider choosing a newly made ring that has a vintage feel. Choosing a ring that fits into your life best will most likely give you the most longevity and most happiness along the way!

DREAM ENGAGEMENT RINGS

5) SPARKLE FACTOR!

Are you a mega-sparkle diamond diva or an understated, alternative gem type of gal?

“The type, quality and size center stone contributes the most to both cost and style of your ring.”

If you truly enjoy sparkle, a round brilliant, Old Mine or Old Euro, or even a Brilliant Pear cut are all great options for maximum shine. If you are more interested in having something with a modest brilliance, a rose cut, rustic diamond or even an alternative gem like sapphire or emerald are great options… A note for the guys: If you are considering a colored stone, be sure that she not only loves the color, but that she is comfortable wearing it EVERY day.

6) PRIORITIZE YOUR BUDGET

“The main thought to keep in mind when working around a tight budget is to PRIORITIZE. There are many ways to create or select a beautiful ring by choosing the elements of a style in smart way.”

Make a list of characteristics you want in your diamond, with the top being the non-negotiable trait. If you know you MUST have a 2 carat diamond because anything smaller just looks “tiny” on your long fingers, then consider a beautiful champagne shade instead of completely colorless diamond, or perhaps think about a halo design in the same color as your center stone to create a larger look. Both of these changes will typically give you a larger impact for your money. Consult with a trusted diamond or jewelry professional to help guide you in making the smartest choices to get the best value for your investment.

7) SENTIMENTAL VALUE

An engagement or wedding band is perhaps the most sentimental object someone can have. Do you or your partner have a family heirloom that could be passed on or re-purposed in some way? Sometimes a dated style can possess a beautiful diamond that could be re-set in a new design, giving it a new life and creating a beautiful way to remember those in our lives. As much as we love designing something from scratch, we love re-designs as well! You can find more info on that process here.

8) GO GREEN

Ethical and environmentally sound gem and metal sourcing are big considerations for many people. Always check whether your favorite jewelry store provides conflict-free diamonds and works with suppliers who abide by the Kimberley Process. If natural diamonds are not your preference, consider a lab grown diamond. Lab grown diamonds are the perfect natural diamond alternative because they have all of the same properties as a natural diamond without the additional strain on the environment. We are proud to partner with Diamond Foundry, a leader in the field of lab grown diamonds. You can view our selection of lab grown diamond rings here, or start your own custom process here.

9) A WORK IN PROGRESS…

Sometimes that dream ring is really that- a distant dream. Whatever your situation may be, remember you’re marrying the person- not the ring!  There will always be room for upgrades as time and your life together evolves. Your ring can always be redesigned and additional bands to come can create a wedding stack that reflects meaningful milestones in your life.

10) THE “GUMBALL RING”

Everyone loves a great proposal story that starts with “a gumball ring.” Designing or picking an engagement ring together can be a romantic process that ensures everyone is happy with the outcome. And that way you’ll abide by the most important rule:  have fun with it!

October Birthstone: The Opal

It is officially Libra season friends, which brings us to perhaps one of our favorite gemstones out there…the dreamy and magical opal. This special October birthstone is absolutely mesmerizing and was once believed to have held lightning that fell from the sky during thunderstorms! Opals are well known for their “play-of-color,” the appearance of their magical rainbow hues shifting and flashing. The October birthstone has also been revered as a symbol of protection, purity, hope and truth. Opals hail mostly from Australia, Ethiopia, Mexico and Brazil and are a little more delicate/softer than other gems, so proper care is vital! Have a special Libra in your life (or want to treat yourself)?! Shop our favorite opal jewelry pieces below!

October Birthstone Opals

october-birthstone-opal-vintage-ring

Dreamy Victorian Opal Ring, $1,950

We’re almost at a loss of words to describe this magical vintage opal ring. This dreamy antique piece dates back to the Victorian era circa 1890 and has been captivating wearers for well over 100 years. Delicate engraving and a thin and comfortable band make this opal ring adorable and easy to wear. This October birthstone ring would make the sweetest birthday or anniversary gift!

one-of-a-kind boulder opal birthstone earrings

Boulder Opal and Diamond Hoop Earrings $1,820

What’s better than one opal you ask? Why two of course! These eclectic Boulder Opal earrings have the most vibrant flecks of blue, green and orange, making them the perfect earrings to go with any outfit! Hanging from a petite 14k yellow gold diamond hoop, these October birthstone charms are removable for a more simplified look.

october birthstone opal ring with diamonds

I Deco Dare You, $6,490

Positively radiating happiness, this one of a kind opal ring would be the perfect October birthstone gift for the vintage lover. An oval opal is set East/West in a 18K matte yellow gold mounting with Baguette and Round Brilliant diamonds. The swirling swatches of green, blue and yellow hues are reminiscent of a beautiful French impressionist painting. We wouldn’t be able to take our eyes off this stunning opal ring!

october birthstone opal ring stack

The Ariel Stack, $3,221.50

For the ultimate October birthstone gift, consider this epic opal and diamond ring stack! We adore mixing and matching shapes and textures to create a chic, one-of-a-kind look. The stones and bands of 14K gold are stacked to beach-y luxe perfection. These lightweight stacking rings are great for spicing up a relaxed outfit or adding a punch of color to an evening ensemble.