Heirloom stones from both families unite into new wedding ring
When Joe Lozito began his quest for the perfect engagement ring for his fiancée, Jen O’Neal, he had an inkling of where to begin, but no idea about the long journey the ring would take, nor about the journey the stones had already taken.
Jen sums up the ring’s journey: “The stone came from my parents, the diamonds from his parents, and it was made by a jeweler in Washington.”
The stories of the stones begin in New York and Thailand. Let’s start with the New York stones. Joe grew up in New York, the son of opera singers. Joe’s mother, Adele, died when he was 15, and her wedding ring was safely set aside. Because the ring had been stored away for many years, Joe had forgotten what it looked like. At Joe’s request, his father, Art, showed him the ring, which had a marquise stone and four small diamonds. With his father’s blessing, Joe took the four small diamonds, and his brother received the larger stone.
When Joe asked Jen’s dad for his blessing to marry his daughter, Jen’s mom offered the center stone of her ring, a star sapphire. Jen, who grew up in Olympia, fondly remembers her mom wearing the ring, and the sapphire is even more meaningful since it is Jen’s birthstone.
The star sapphire had come from Thailand when Jen’s father served in the military and went to Vietnam during the war, about 1968–69. “It was an awful place that he didn’t want to be,” says Jen. “My mother didn’t want him to go.” One day he went to Thailand with a Thai friend who took him to a jewelry store. There Jen’s dad bought the star sapphire stone for his wife in Olympia. “He brought something beautiful back from such an ugly time in their lives,” Jen says.
During the first four months of Joe and Jen’s engagement, Jen wore a green plastic engagement ring, a nod to the couple’s interest in science fiction. She was patient because she knew a real ring was in production.
Joe wanted the heirloom stones – four small diamonds and a star sapphire – to be made into a contemporary engagement ring. Jen’s family had long shopped at Hartley Jewelers in Olympia, so Joe talked to Rick Hartley about designing Jen’s ring.
The design process started with making two-dimensional sketches. When the ring design drawings satisfied Joe, the goldsmith, DeAnn Hamilton, created a wax mold. Joe approved each step of the process through photographs because he was in New York. When the design was finalized, a casting mold was made. After several more steps in the process, finally, the ring was completed.
“It’s an extensive process,” explains DeAnn. “Once the custom ring is created, we destroy the mold, so it’s truly one-of-a-kind.”
About designing a contemporary ring, Rick Hartley says, “We get to blend a heritage from two different families into an heirloom ring that is a daily part of their lives. They are wearing part of their histories. We help them create something that’s unique and different.”
When Joe finally had the ring in his hands in New York, he took Jen to a waterfront town with crab houses and seafood shacks – a town that reminds her of Olympia – to give her the ring.
Joe and Jen were married on Oct. 22 on Long Island. They incorporated other family heirlooms and vintage items, including a cake knife and old books, into their wedding décor.
They live in New Jersey and work in New York City.
Reprinted with permission from original author, South Sound Wedding & Event Magazine, summer 2012. Photos by Jennifer Strader Photography.