Fine jewelry expert and Founder of Kiss The Ring New York, Hattie Gruber is the woman behind Manhattan's biggest engagement ring and fine jewelry surprises.  With an emphasis on making jewelry that is classic yet unique for each person and occasion, Hattie prioritizes your story working with any budget to customize the ring or piece that's best for you.  Hattie shares her ring shopping 101 when celebrating one of life's biggest events and what to do when you love your your fiancée, but not your engagement ring.  Learn Hattie's favorite designs from her KTR Confetti Collection and her lessons learned as an entrepreneur in the male-dominated industry of fine jewelry. 

The main significance of the engagement ring is making a commitment to someone - not just buying a big piece of jewelry.

Engagement Education

What are the best occasions to buy fine jewelry?

Jewelry is special not just because it's beautiful to look at, but also because of what it signifies.  Whether it’s a birthday, graduation, anniversary, engagement or the especially delightful 'just because,'  jewelry is the perfect way to commemorate life’s special occasions.  I tailor each piece to represent the event - such as a pair of sapphire earrings for the birth of a baby boy, an engraved charm for a graduation, cufflinks with a secret message on the back, or 30 diamonds on a chain for a 30th birthday.  Part of the fun is making jewelry unique to you and your life events.

For the guy who wants to surprise his girlfriend with an engagement ring, what questions should he ask to pick a setting?

Usually the girl has dropped some hints, so knowing information about the design of the ring is helpful to create a ring she'll love.  If she hasn’t mentioned a ring setting, I recommend asking a trusted friend or family member who knows her taste.  Once my client knows the shape of the stone or ring design he would like, I can work with him to get the best ring for his budget.  Most of my designs are clean and classic with tapered or bullet shaped baguettes.  The halo style is also really popular right now.

Part of the fun is making jewelry unique to you and your life events.

What should we look for when buying an engagement ring?

Most of the engagement rings I sell are diamonds with an occasional sapphire ring.  When buying an engagement ring, the diamond shape is up to the customer.  The most popular shape is the classic round brilliant cut, but I also sell a lot of cushion and emerald cuts.

You want to make sure the stone is well cut, has the proper proportions, and looks colorless with no eye-visible inclusions.  The diamonds I sell are GIA certified, so you'll know the specific characteristic of your stones.  I then show my clients how to examine the loose stones to see the difference in cut, color, and clarity.  The rings are set and finished by hand to completely customize the design to fit your specific stone.  This ensures the proper fit for the diamond and security of the setting.  Generally it takes three to four weeks for the ring to be made, but I'm working on an engagement ring right now that's needed in a week!

What is your advice for finding the perfect ring for the couple on a limited budget? 

It's important to remember that the main significance of the engagement ring is making a commitment to someone - not just buying a big piece of jewelry.  I’ve created several gorgeous rings on limited budgets for different reasons.  We focus on what's important for the ring whether that's prioritizing the design or putting most of the budget into the diamond.  If you want a bigger diamond, you can still use one that is a little lower in color and clarity but still looks impressive.  There is no need to buy a flawless diamond!

Jewelry is special not just because it's beautiful to look at, but also because of what it signifies.

What ring would you suggest for the couple that can spare no expense?

When you’re shopping for a big diamond, I recommend an emerald or a cushion cut.  These shapes are gorgeous at a larger size without being too flashy, so I always recommend one of these - especially if you’re looking at anything three carats or bigger.

What is one of your favorite proposal stories?  

My favorite proposal stories always involve an element of surprise.  A friend's boyfriend (now husband) surprised her with a beautiful flower arrangement and a note saying to take her time getting ready and then to meet him downstairs.  She was met by a driver who drove her to Central Park where her boyfriend proposed in 'their spot' and then went to brunch with both of their families waiting to celebrate.  

Often guys like to propose on getaways to Paris or the islands.  I always suggest proposing right before the trip since you'll want to call your friends and family and being out of the country can make that harder!  Then go on the trip already engaged so you can spend the whole time relaxing and celebrating with each other.

We focus on what's important for the ring whether that's prioritizing the design or putting most of the budget into the diamond.

Meet Hattie Gruber

Neighborhood: Upper East Side

Occupation: Jeweler

Look of the Season: Leather leggings

Ultimate Accessory: Big gold bracelets

Favorite Store: Lisa Perry on Madison

Go-to Outfit: Black stretch pants, a blazer, and smoking slippers

Must-have Shoes: I live in Stubbs & Woottons

Favorite Nail Polish: Any hot pink Essie Polish

Can't Live Without Product: Tweezerman tweezers

Salon Recommendation: Davide at Davide Torchio is the best for cuts on the UES

Signature Scent: Frederic Maille Iris Poudre and Eau de Magnolia

Beauty Essential: Nars Portofino Multiple Stick and YSL Touche Eclat

Cocktail of Choice: Wine…and the occasional Tanqueray martini

Best Date: Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle for special occasions

Travel Destination: South Florida and London

Best Advice: Be yourself.

Favorite Quote: 'If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.'

De-Stress Technique: SoulCycle and long walks around the city

Latest Gadget: Bose Bluetooth mini speaker

On My Playlist: Motown and cheesy pop Spotify playlists

Favorite App: My Talking Pet

University: Washington & Lee

Sorority: Kappa Kappa Gamma

Graduation Year: 2004

Kiss The Ring

Can you share your favorite basic and breathtaking piece for fall / winter?

Every woman should have a pair of basic gold earrings.  Hoops are really popular because they're youthful and show up without being too heavy on the ear.

The new KTR Confetti Collection is classic but clever.  Different color cabochon stones are backed in mother of pearl which produces an amazing glow, then finished with a gold rope border.

It's much easier to sell something when you believe in the product and can stand by it.

What is your favorite fine jewelry piece in your personal collection?

My favorite piece of jewelry is my emerald and diamond ring.  It was originally given to my mother for her 21st birthday.  Emeralds are pretty fragile stones so by the time it was given to me, the emerald had seen better days.  One of my friends in the business has a stash of emeralds he gets from South America, so I was able to get a really beautiful new (bigger) stone at an excellent price.  He re-made the ring in platinum and I hope to pass it on to someone special one day - but not any time soon!

It helped me to spend quite a bit of time on the business plan and think about the strategy of the business.

What are the lessons you've learned being a female entrepreneur in fine jewelry?

Starting your own business is not something to take on lightly.  It really helped me to spend quite a bit of time on the business plan and think about the strategy of the business.  I find that while it evolves over time, my goals have stayed the same.  I knew it would be a lot of work, but it was also a lot more expensive than I ever could have imagined just getting off the ground.  

Social media is an excellent way to advertise and connect with customers for free.  It's also important to stay educated and know what you're talking about so you can have confidence in your products and ability.  It's much easier to sell something when you believe in the product and can stand by it.  I’ve found that since going out on my own, a lot of leaders in the male-dominated jewelry industry respect me more and have been very supportive.

While the business has evolved over time, my goals have stayed the same.

 

What are your bSmart words of wisdom for buying an engagement ring or our first piece of special occasion fine jewelry?

Buying an engagement ring or other piece of fine jewelry should be well thought out so you're completely confident in your purchase.  Generally these items should not be bought on a whim!  Ring shopping - or even the thought of ring shopping - can be stressful for some men, but once they get started they find that it's much easier than they thought.  If you start with a little information about what you generally have in mind, I can work with you to make just the right piece and answer all of the questions you didn’t even know you would have when you started ring shopping. 

It makes the process much easier if you're working with a trusted jeweler, instead of making the purchase online.  It can be tricky if the ring is an heirloom piece or if the groom-to-be is really proud of his creation.  Chances are he knows you well enough that the ring won’t be completely terrible, but if you don't love the setting, I suggest you speak to the jeweler when you go in for wedding bands.  The couple usually comes in together when shopping for wedding bands and typically each person picks out the type of band they prefer.  The bride-to-be can mention that a different type of setting would go better with the wedding band she likes.  The bulk of the cost of the ring is typically in the center stone so it’s not too expensive to change the setting.  If you want to be sure this doesn’t happen and you don’t want to talk about rings with your boyfriend, drop some hints to friends or family that might be able to steer him in the right direction in advance!

I’ve found that since going out on my own, a lot of leaders in the male-dominated jewelry industry respect me more and have been very supportive.

 

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