I have a loving partner, 2 incredible kids, and a gigantic dog. I wear a ring on my left ring finger, but we’ve never said vows. We’re sort of doing a Kurt and Goldie thing at the moment, but we’ve talked about marriage (or at least a massive party with all our friends and family) and we don’t mind the idea.
Of course that stirs wonderful and lavish ideas in my head. At the moment it’s pretty much a fantastical refuge— a place where I float when I’m not putting out fires as a mom or entrepreneur. It’s nice to think about floofy dresses (I totally had a dream that I turned my wedding dress into She-Ra cosplay after the ceremony), and sparkly art deco things, and first dances to earthy old jazz, and the grins on tulle-skirted flower girls. But at the same time I don’t even know if we’d have time to make that manifest, and I’m happy with my life, and the sweet ring I currently wear.
It’s a white gold piece with 4 (it used to be 5) beautiful amethyst gems set in a band and it means the world to me. I remember when Cap gave it to me. It was Christmas, and our youngest was 3 months old. Cap had just finished shooting a feature and we just knew. We knew we could make our dreams come true by working together, and supporting each other. My ring celebrated new beginnings, the strength and beauty of our family, and love in general.
The stones began to mean things to me, even when one fell out. There’s one for both kids, the dog, Cap, and I’m the setting that holds it all together.
“Ok. But if he proposed or gave you a new ring, would you wear it?”
Oh heck yes! But motherhood and practicality in general have given me a new outlook. I am a hands-on person. I lost a gem on my ring already, so that should be an indicator of how hands-on I really am. I change diapers, I wash dishes, I scrub floors, I paint things, I wash dogs…you get it. I need a ring that’s not afraid to do those things with me. Of course because I’m a bonafide contrarian it’s not the simple solitaires I gravitate towards, but the art deco pave designs. Oh. And it can’t cost like, anything. Because we have kids and summer camps and medical stuff and well, a ring is not at the top of my list.
Beyond that, I find the retail of jewelry daunting. I am not a big fan of steaming up display cases or feeling the unspoken pressure of my affordability range needling at me to not even dream of looking at ‘those ones over there’.
This was my mindset as I went to Livia Diamonds on Colborne Street in Toronto for what I thought would be an evening of diamond education, a recitation of the 4 C’s, and a few stolen glances at things we could never afford.
Instead, I was greeted by Livia’s owner Aret Oymakas, and told to just try on everything I wanted to and to make myself at home. I was immediately caught off guard by his charming and slightly shy demeanor, all the beautiful sparkly things peeking out at me, and the lovely, minimal and casual feel to the studio.
“I had a retail store once but I really prefer this.” He is speaking about his 2 year old appointment-only studio downtown near Church and Wellington. “It’s much better this way. People come in and make themselves comfortable, it’s always one-on-one, we talk… there’s no hovering over shoulders or display cases or distractions or pressure.”
Livia Diamonds is named after a combination of Aret’s wife Lida and his 7 year old daughter Olivia. Olivia’s artwork gets a place of honour on the wall.
“She was giving me advice for tonight,” he can’t help but smile. “She said Dad, just pretend you are alone, in your own home, talking to yourself…you’ll be great.”
‘Tonight’ is a red carpet event for the entrepreneur, and select press have been invited to learn about Livia’s unique design and customization process, something that Aret takes very seriously.
“We start with a 3D printed mold that you can try on. Then we create the ring out of the chosen metal…it looks rough until the next phase where we polish it…then we add the stones which I choose.”
As a third generation jeweller Aret knows how to choose stones whether they are $50 000 emerald cut diamonds, or popular gemstones like white topaz or morganite. He has a genuine and tactile sensitivity to creating beautiful jewellery.
“There’s so much more to consider than the ‘4 Cs’. Like haziness for example. It’s this quality that you can only see in person. So often people will go on line and based on their budget buy something…they think it’s a good deal because maybe the stone is bigger…but there’s this haziness… and besides the imperfection that you can only see when it’s delivered, it’s the stone that makes the ring so special. I just don’t think something that important should be done on-line…you should be part of the whole process of creation.”
And budget-wise Livia makes it affordable to have a custom piece. Aret offers an impressive range based on stone, setting, metal used, and style. As I said, I gravitate to art deco pieces with pave halos (something I thought was way out of reach), but the ones I looked at ran from just over $1200 to $6000 CDN. Of course the sky’s the limit.
“If you went with a morganite or other gemstone, the price could be cut in half…maybe more.” Wow. Maybe I wouldn’t mind a new ring after all?
So how do you get your S.O. to buy the ring that you’re in love with?
“People shop for an engagement ring together now and where it used to be 90% men coming in and making the purchase, now it’s a 60/40 split.”
When a couple comes in for a custom design Aret works with them to bring incredibly personal touches to their rings. One couple wanted to reflect their Hindu background in their ring. Another design seamlessly incorporated 2 diamonds from the bride’s grandmother. Still another design was inspired by Cinderella’s coach— the bride to be was a Disney fangirl.
One of the most amazing benefits to buying through Livia, is that you actually get a sample replica of your design with the purchase. I mean, an ‘I can’t tell them apart’ replica. This is perfect for vacations when you don’t necessarily want to travel with your valuables, or in my case to wear about 95% of the time because, life.
And then there’s the fact that a percentage of each purchase goes to benefit Toronto Hospital for Sick Kids.
“…I really like being able to help tell the story for a couple. I get to be part of the journey and that’s special.”
So what do you think, Cap? Green Lantern design for you, Millenium Falcon ring for me?
I’m just saying, with these prices I might just ask you. Consider yourself warned.