Katie and Nic have been my two best friends since seventh grade. Even after high school, when Nic moved to Costa Rica, Katie moved to rural Idaho, and I stayed in Provo, UT, we all stayed in touch. The two of them eventually grew into a romantic relationship that I totally saw coming, and when they finally got engaged in late 2011 after ten or so years of on-again off-again mutual indecision, Katie told Nic that she didn’t want a big, fancy, store-bought engagement ring.

“No,” she told him, “I want you to make it.”

This didn’t come out of left field entirely. Although he spends most of his time as a biomechanical engineering grad student, Nic is also an accomplished jeweler, working in everything from whale-bone carving (he made me some Moby Dick cuff links in honor of my favorite book) to silver earrings and all sorts between. During their “off” times as a couple, he had made jewelry for other, lesser girlfriends—a silver pendant here, CZ earrings there—but for Katie, he decided to top it all (I suspect Katie wanted her ring to outshine the Nic-made jewelry of her former romantic rivals, but that’s just speculation).

So he made her this ring.

The finished product

The band and setting were made from sterling silver, a material with which Nic had often worked, but the gem—a gorgeous, emerald-cut sky blue topaz—was new to him. Luckily, he had a great resource at hand: his uncle, a professional jeweler and diamond dealer (and, coincidentally, a long-time Rio customer!). Putting their heads together, they came up with this design:

Nic’d do recipes in CAD software if he could

As you saw above, it turned out beautifully, and the bride couldn’t have been more pleased.

The happy couple

At the end of December, my dog Hitch and I made the drive north from New Mexico to Salt Lake City, UT, for the festivities. The ring, as is so often the case, became a prominent topic of conversation at the pre-wedding luncheon, as everyone who saw it asked where he bought it—Katie would just smile and point to Nic, who would blush a bit, look at the ground, and humbly admit its true origin (I think he got three or four additional marriage proposals but, hey, the names were already printed on the marriage license).

I drink a lot of Dr. Pepper

After a lovely ceremony and the taking of far too many pictures (all of which make me look like an early afternoon lush), we headed to a fantastic reception at the Provo City Library (coincidentally, the same venue that hosted our high school prom in 2002). As part of the wedding party, I showed up an hour early and stayed an hour late, so I was able to see countless adolescent friends show up to congratulate the happy couple.

In high school, Nic and I played in rock bands, taking stage at community centers, senior centers, and anywhere else that needed some background noise (but you’d be surprised how much old people like to dance to Chuck Berry). In accordance with our history, Nic and Katie asked that my band, Westerlies, which unfortunately broke up when I moved to Albuquerque to work at Rio, reunite for the reception. We were more than happy to, and a great time was had by all (Nic was even scolded by a few guests for paying more attention to the music than the guests in the receiving line, but it’s hard to ignore Zeppelin at a wedding reception).

I’m pretty new to jewelry; my writing background is in marketing and academia, and I’ve never owned more jewelry than an occasional Ring Pop or candy necklace. But when I mentioned to Nic back in October that I was coming to work for a company called Rio Grande and asked if he’d heard of them, his eyes lit up and he pulled a 2011 Gems and Findings catalog from the backseat of his car. Knowing that this industry provides a direct connection between not just our customers, but their lives—even their weddings—I knew that I’d be happy here.

Being immersed in jewelry since I started here, I’ve been able to hear a lot of fantastic stories about different pieces and how they’ve played a role in something special and personal in peoples’ lives. What are some pieces that you’ve made, received, or given? What has jewelry brought to your life?