Ten/Ten Designers Share the Stories Behind Their Brilliant Creations


Designers Marla Aaron, Bia Bongiasca, and Lauren Harwell Godfrey

Now that we’ve introduced you to the participating Ten/Ten designers and the stories behind their inspiration, we wanted to dive a bit deeper and show you what it takes to bring their ideas to life. So with the creation of the rings in mind, we tapped Marla Aaron, Bea Bongiasca, and Lauren Harwell Godfrey to answer a few questions.


“When we were asked by De Beers to take our popular DiMe ring and turn it into an engagement ring it was the perfect opportunity to play with a stone that could also be a closure—like the jeweled clasp of an evening bag. So, we treated it the exact same way. The fact that the diamond ring houses a secret, a message perhaps only meant for two people, makes it incredibly special.”



Designer Marla Aaron in a short video detailing the making of her ring.


Marla Aaron’s ‘DiMe Siempre’ ring with its ingenious bezel-set diamond doubling as the clasp.

A detail shot of the clasp of Aaron’s ‘DiMe Siempre’ ring for Ten/Ten.


Blue Nile: Can you tell us about the craftsmanship of your ring from the idea phase to the finished product?

Bea Bongiasca: The designing was quite fast because I was very inspired by this project, which of course helps a lot! Once I decided on the final design we made it into a 3D CAD model and added the measurements of the diamond in the file as there is a mechanism where the two rings have to fit perfectly together with the diamond. That was probably the hardest part as it wasn’t a given that it would work.

In fact, once the prototype was 3D printed and cast from the wax it had to be readapted before it was enameled—because enamel also has a thickness to it which had to be considered. The enamel is painted on the ring by hand and then placed in an oven to ‘cook.’

When the enameled ring was ready, we stacked it with its matching diamond ring and they fit perfectly! It was a great moment! Once the first ring was ready the others were easier to make. We had know-how from the prototype so there were no bumps in the road!

BN: What do you enjoy (or find challenging) about the production process (vs. the inspiration/sketching process)?

BB: Normally, I frequently visit the atelier where I make my jewelry, which is in another city in Italy about three hours away. Because of the situation with COVID-19 I wasn’t able to visit as much as I would have liked. I really enjoy being involved in the making, especially of the prototypes, which is often the phase where there is a lot of problem-solving as it’s the first attempt. This ring took longer to prototype than it did to make because I wanted to make sure the design was the best that it could be before even thinking of making it.


A portrait of Bea and her cat in the studio.

Bea Bongiasca’s ‘You’re So Mine’ ring set with its removable white enamel casing.

BN: One of your signature design elements is your enamel squiggle. Was there anything different or challenging from a design standpoint about incorporating that into your design for Ten/Ten?

BB: I think that it was a good challenge as making an engagement ring is something different to what I usually design, so it was a new and exciting venture in itself. I wanted to stay true to my brand DNA yet be realistic in that the design had to be simple and timeless. It had to be something that you would want to wear forever. This is what gave me the idea of making a ‘ring jacket’ so that it could be worn as a solitaire but also with the enamel. That way you could dress the ring up or down depending on what you feel like.

BN: Your signature designs aren’t heavy on diamonds. Was there anything about working with a diamond (vs. gemstones or crystals or other elements) that made this project different or special for you?

BB: Yes, definitely! I think it makes a big difference. I don’t usually focus my designs around gemstones, but in this case it was really the star of the piece as it often is for engagement rings. Furthermore, as we are working with natural diamonds, we had to design pieces that would look just as amazing with a smaller carat stone as a bigger carat one. It is always special to make an engagement ring because you know how important and life changing it will be for a couple.


An exploration with varying carat weights illustrates the beauty of Bongiasca’s ‘You’re So Mine’ ring with diamonds of different sizes.

A detail from Bongiasca’s mood board, with intertwining vines—like a couple about to get hitched.

BN: Your website highlights your love of pop culture and the visual language of East Asia. Can you share a bit about why these things inspire you and how they influence your designs?

BB: I love the aesthetic perfection that you can find in the small things from the plates at the restaurants to the flowers in the hotel lobbies. It sounds banal but everything is so curated and cared for that it gives a designer like me great joy. There is a harmonic balance. I feel like I incorporate some of this visual language in my work, but mix it with my western vision, if that makes sense. It isn’t something figurative that you see in the jewelry as much as an influence of color and balance.

BN: This is a bit more on the inspiration side, but are there things you typically do when you’re in your studio to solve design challenges or stay inspired?

BB: I think that this year has been a bit more challenging on the inspiration front because there was very little exploring and travelling to be done! Even places that are often big sources of ideas like art galleries and museums, at least in Italy, were closed for most of the year, which was a real shame. At the same time though, it is very rare to have so much time at home to think and reflect, so in the end I think there was a weird balance that kind of worked.


Blue Nile: Can you describe the craftsmanship of your ring from the idea phase to the finished product?

Lauren Harwell Godfrey: I have had so much interest from people in my own engagement ring that I created, that I thought it would be really interesting to use that as the foundation for this project. The next step was to figure out how to make it at a price point of around $4,000. This spurred an investigation of materials: What would be beautiful and have impact but keep me in this price range?

Once I settled on mother-of-pearl as an accent, I started sketching and thinking through all of the little details that would make the design feel special. We made a sample first, and it wasn’t perfect, so we had to go back in and make adjustments—all part of the process of getting to the final 10 rings!


A portrait of Lauren Harwell Godfrey in her studio.

The designer’s sketch of her ‘Motu’ ring.

BN: What do you enjoy (or find challenging) about the production process (vs. the inspiration/sketching process)?

LHG: I’m not a bench jeweler, but I do enjoy the production process and find it challenging at the same time. The challenge is in having someone translate my vision from sketches to an object. I am VERY specific and when something isn’t as I had intended it, I go back and have it reworked. This can add a lot of time to a project, but it’s crucial. Holding the final, perfect piece in my hands for the first time is magical.

BN: We love the mother-of-pearl halo in your design for Ten/Ten. Was that material purely an aesthetic choice, or is there something symbolic about mother of pearl?

LHG: It was both an aesthetic and symbolic choice—I named this ring “Motu,” which is named after the reef that surrounds the lagoon in Bora Bora and where I had my honeymoon. Mother-of-pearl is a material that reminds me of Bora Bora and the way that I used it, it’s like a Motu around the beautiful Botswana diamond.


Harwell Godfrey’s beautifully-crafted ‘Motu’ ring.

Mother-of-pearl being measured to form a luminous halo around the center diamond.

BN: You had a career in advertising (and a detour through culinary school) before you became a jewelry designer. Is there anything from your advertising or culinary background that influences your design process?

LHG: Yes, both of those careers have a lot of influence on how I work. In advertising, I worked as an art director/creative director and spent 15+ years centered upon bringing ideas to life. This has directly translated to my jewelry work. I get a lot of comments about how I am a visual communicator and how that is helpful in getting my work produced in the way that I intended.

The culinary world is about working with your hands and assembling the right ingredients in a way that makes something balanced—I look at jewelry in the same way sometimes—what are my ingredients (gold, stones, etc.), and how am I going to put them together to make something incredible.

BN: Your website highlights your love of ancient textiles and ethnic patterns. Did you bring those passions to bear in your Ten/Ten design?

LHG: The use of geometry is a big part of what I love in those objects and by using a hexagon as a foundation for this design, that comes through here. I also love the balance of soft and hard in these patterns. By pairing the detailed, rounded bead band with the angles of the hexagon, I think that tension and surprise is found in this ring too.

BN: The hexagon is such a powerful shape! We love it! What inspired you to use it in your Ten/Ten design?

LHG: I love it, too! A hexagon fits perfectly around a round diamond and brings a bit of interest to the shape.

BN: Engagement rings are typically worn every day (while most of your designs are made for swapping and layering). Did this change the way you approached this design?

LHG: I really thought a lot about creating something with enough visual interest to make it very special, but also have the neutrality to be able to be worn every day. I am very happy with how that worked out here.

BN: This is a bit more on the inspiration side, but are there things you typically do when you’re in your studio to solve design challenges or stay inspired?

LHG: Traveling helps me to stay inspired and since that was not an option this year, I dove into a lot of books. I ask myself what I would like to wear when I am working on something. I have found that question always leads me to a good place.


About the Author