Engagement rings

Earning not-so-big bucks doesn't mean you can't bring home the big rocks. Think outside of the little blue box and go vintage, handmade or nontraditional.

Date: September 17, 2008 5:38:34 PM EDT
To: inyc@timeoutny.com
Subject: Where can I find…

…a non-diamond engagement ring that is classy and old (ish), and won’t set me back three months of unemployment? I’m thinking white gold set with an aquamarine, maybe.
Jackson Heights, Queens

Little King Ltd.

Little King Ltd.
This intimate shop is chock-full of unexpected baubles. Is she (or he) a fan of the Chrysler Building? Get a ring featuring the iconic landmark in your choice of metals. Going fancy? Check out a beautiful light blue sapphire in palladium (a metal in the same family as platinum) for $3,000 or a rose-gold and pink tourmaline ring with an intricately etched band for $720. But be careful of aquamarine, warns gemologist Jennifer O’Sullivan: “It’s a very soft stone and may not withstand a lifetime of wear and tear. Sapphires are much stronger and come in all shades of blue.”
319 E 9th St between First and Second Aves (212-260-6140, littlekingjewelry.com)

Fichera and Perkins
If you book it too quickly down University Place, you might miss this dim store tucked away in the middle of the block. Lou Fichera and Ron Perkins have been in the same location for 34 years, putting the sweethearts of “some very guilty men” in forgiving moods. Please your sweetie with a traditional Irish claddagh wedding ring from the ’40s with a deep purple amethyst for $495.50 University Pl between 9th and 10th Sts (212-533-1430)

Ilana Fine Jewelry

Ilana Fine Jewelry
Just a few doors down from Fichera and Perkins, Ilana Fine Jewelry has more vintage and estate gems, such as a teardrop opal ring with diamond accents from the ’50s for $1,450. If you inherited grandmother’s jewels and they need some TLC, bring them here where the repair services can resize, restore and renew those family heirlooms.
42 University Pl between 9th and 10th Sts (212-473-1057)

Gold Label by Tina Tang
Is your lover more modern chic than retro artsy? Visit this downtown cool design studio and find an 8mm sky blue topaz in 14-karat white gold, a new take on the old standby, for $550. Designer and former Wall Street equities trader Tina Tang appeals to the green set, as well, by donating a portion of her proceeds to tree-planting organization American Forests and offering eco-friendly packaging and wrapping.
48 Greenwich Ave between Charles and Perry Sts (212-645-3124, goldlabelbytinatang.com)

Doyle & Doyle

Doyle & Doyle
For the Gemini gem-lovers out there, a unique flip ring comes with black onyx on one side and a rose-cut garnet and diamonds on the other for $575. A three-stone ruby ring framed in diamonds with a yellow gold band is $1,800.
189 Orchard St between E Houston and Stanton Sts (212-677-9991, doyledoyle.com)

Clay Pot
Opened in Park Slope in 1969, long before the stroller invasion, this family-run store boasts a large bridal collection from more than 75 independent designers. Michele Mercaldo’s Sapphire Fade Band features sapphires across the spectrum, from pale blue to deep navy, set in a palladium band for $1,765. Or surprise your diamond in the rough with Melissa Joy Manning’s Diamond Slice Ring—a dark, raw diamond in a hammered gold band for $1,080.
162 Seventh Ave between Garfield Pl and 1st St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (800-989-3579, /clay-pot.com)

Cog & Pearl
This other Park Slope gem features handmade goods—from tees to home decor—and a nice selection of jewelry from independent designers. The owners handpick featured designers like Liza McLaughlin, who created a charming ruby solitaire with a twisted band for only $80. All the rings in the store are under $300, many of which are suitable for an understated, unique engagement ring. Many designers are happy to do custom work, too.
190 Fifth Ave between Berkeley Pl and Union St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-623-8200, cogandpearl.com)

Etsy (etsy.com), the Amazon-like site for crafters, sells wares from virtual storefronts, so you can start your married life on a lazy note by never leaving the couch.

I Do Now I Don’t (idonowidont.com), on the other hand, is a celebration of failed engagements—but don’t let that dissuade you. With auctions of some impressive rings, this site can either blow your budget or yield a supreme deal.

See more You asked for it