SK Love Stories


Hello! Kennedy here, our Social Media Director at SKFJ. The month of February is a fun one – it’s the month of love. And being in the wedding business, we have a lot of love to celebrate. This is why we invented SK Love Stories, where we feature couples that we’ve had the absolute pleasure of working with to create their dream ring(s) to symbolize and celebrate their unique love. I’m chiming in because I personally had the pleasure of working with Emma and John at one of our pop-ups in Chicago. They were one of our first appointments, but one of the most memorable. Emma and John casually strolled into our suite with what felt like the intention to simply play with some shapes and styles. After trying on one certain Annika ring that featured a very special Old European, it was quite obvious it was the one. After some design changes and a very adorable pom-prosal (see below), this lively couple is engaged to be married. Read on for their sweet love story that took place in high-COVID times!

Names: John Barlow + Emma Ward

Current location: Chicago, IL

Meeting date + location: March 2020 – Hinge App

Wedding date + location: November 4, 2023 – Barcelona, Spain

Sofia Kaman Love Story Engagement

Back to the start of all of this – how did you lovebirds meet?

Emma hit on John via Hinge in late-March 2020, right before COVID lockdowns began.

Your first date – give us the details.

After talking for a while on Hinge, we got to the point where we finally decided to meet in person and go on a date. While we were discussing getting something on the calendar, COVID lockdowns began and all of the restaurants and public spaces in Chicago were closed indefinitely. With the typical dates no longer available, John came up with the idea to do a “Facetime date”, where we would both get delivery from the same restaurant, in order to be able to comment on the food so it felt like we were actually dining out together. John would then Venmo Emma the cost of her meal. The date went surprisingly well and we Facetimed late into the night. John was a gentleman and paid as promised. After the success of the Facetime date, we discussed how much we wished we could meet in person. With COVID lockdowns still in place and Chicago’s cold winter still ongoing, options remained limited. John proposed meeting at his place for dinner. In order to make Emma comfortable with the idea, John sent a picture of his driver’s license, to prove his identity and for her to provide friends and family should she go missing. She agreed. Emma was dropped off by her six-foot-tall, D1 water polo player sister, who was going to “handle things” should she not hear back from Emma throughout the night. John greeted Emma at the door in an apron and was preparing soup and homemade bread for dinner. We watched a movie and did a puzzle. The rest is history.

Sofia Kaman Love Story Engagement

When did you first say “I love you”? Who said it first?!

Right away, probably two weeks into dating. We were both equally infatuated. We aren’t sure who said it first, but it was probably John because he’s a Pisces.

How or when did you know that your significant other was the one?

It was very early, probably one or two weeks after meeting and spending time together. Both of our prior relationships had been with toxic, controlling partners. We immediately bonded over how free we felt with each other, our empathetic natures, and our ability to heal and support each other.

Sofia Kaman Love Story Engagement

The proposal – please tell us the story!

Emma had a series of intense, unexpected surgeries the first year of our relationship. John stood by her side and supported her through it all. (This was another factor that showed Emma that John truly was the one). Something that helped Emma through the surgeries was John’s promise that they would get a dog after her final surgery. Enter Monty the teacup Pomeranian. A year into getting Monty, the most precious, tan Pomeranian, they decided he needed a friend. Turns out the breeder still had Monty’s biological brother and sole littermate. It was destiny. Emma flew to Pittsburg to pick up his jet-black brother we named Merlin. ANYWAYS, Emma was getting back from a 12-hour night shift as a labor and delivery nurse, when John let the Pomeranians out in the back yard after she had parked. Monty was wearing a little sign around his neck that said “Marry” and Merlin was wearing a sign that said “Me”. John then came outside wearing a heart-shaped sign around his neck with a “?”. Emma was so stunned (and tired from her shift) she stood there blankly for a second as things registered. Then she immediately walked to John and hugged him. He got down on one knee as the poms ran around them both. It was truly a magical Pom-posal.

What is your favorite thing about your significant other?

Emma loves that John is patient, calm, collected, and a loving attentive Pomeranian/cat dad. Emma also loves that John is a foodie and likes to cook. John loves Emma’s empathetic nature, surprising humor, and constant undying support.

Sofia Kaman Love Story Engagement

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

Since most of our time as a couple was spent in the vacuum of lockdowns, we had a lot of time on our hands. One time we got really into watching seasons of Rue Paul’s Drag Race. Emma does hair and makeup for weddings as a side-gig, so decided to do drag makeup on John, and ended up creating his drag alter ego, “The Duchess of Rockwell”. Another time, John got into a phase (probably about 3 months) where he was absolutely determined to learn how to shuffle dance, as all the cool kids were doing on TikTok. Emma was recovering from one of her surgeries at the time, and John would shuffle dance with flapper hands to make her laugh hilariously. The jury is still out on if he shuffle dances well.

What’s your go-to date night idea?

Ordering in, Pomeranian cuddles, and watching a range of shows or movies depending on our mood. Be it Yellowstone, The Great British Baking Show, or Rue Paul’s Drag Race, we have range. We recently bought a Japanese futon, which allows us to lay on the floor to get extra cozy.

Let’s talk jewels – how did you choose this ring?! Who took the reins on designing or choosing your ring? Give us all the deets.

Both Emma and John wanted a non-cookie cutter, unique, vintage-inspired engagement ring, that was as much of a work of art as a ring (high standards, we know). In the quest for the perfect ring, John stumbled upon Sofia Kaman while searching the web for “Mermaid Style Jewelry”, because Emma has always loved mermaids. John instantly became obsessed because they had the “Mermaid Vibe” (whatever that is) he was looking for. John showed Emma Sofia Kaman’s Instagram and she fell in love. We were planning a trip to Santa Monica to try rings on in person, when destiny struck, and Sofia Kaman did a pop-up event in Chicago. John immediately booked a time to meet. Emma had no idea what she wanted, but Kennedy was amazing and so beyond helpful. We loved so many pieces, but Emma kept going back to one solitaire ring, that had a beautiful Old European Cut diamond as the star. Since Emma works in healthcare, she wanted something low profile she could wear under sterile gloves. The setting of the diamond she fell in love with wasn’t as flush as she wanted, so Kennedy proposed putting the diamond in a Billie setting. We were sold and bought the ring the same day! We can now confirm the Billie setting can be worn with sterile procedure gloves with no issues at all. And of course, it is complemented by ALL the laboring moms on how beautiful it is!

Alright – so what does the future hold for the two of you?! Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Creating one big happy family with the addition of human children.

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

We will take them all, thanks. No, Emma likes the Small Melt Ring, Evangeline – Knife Edge Band, Engraved Leaves Band, French Cut Channel Set Band, and the Scalloped Crown Band.

Do you have an SK Love Story to share!? Submit it here for your chance to be featured next.