Nikolay Piriankov, Taylor & Hart CEO and co-founder, knows what it means to fall in love, but when he was ready to propose to his now wife, Vaivara Piriankov, he noticed a gap in the jewelry industry: the inability to customize a ring. 

The Piriankovs’ love story would be the catalyst for launching Taylor & Hart, the ethical ring company that provides bespoke (aka custom-made) services that allow customers to choose the design that best reflects their personalities and love story. In today’s social-media driven culture, marriage proposals are becoming a collaborative act. While a surprise proposal is still a thing, there has been an increase in the number of couples who opt for a placeholder ring, leaving the woman time to design her own engagement ring.

Taylor & Hart prides itself not only in its ability to cater to its customers’ design needs, but also on its transparent diamond sourcing process. In an effort to meet the growing consumer desire to live sustainably, the company produces eco-friendly, ethically-sourced, lab-created diamonds.

At Darling, we love companies that celebrate life’s milestones in personal and sustainable ways. When we found out about Taylor & Hart’s engagement rings, we could not wait to learn more about this company. Darling got to chat with Taylor & Hart’s CEO to learn a little bit more about the backstory of this growing ring brand.

Tell us about your engagement story. 

For some time, I’d known I wanted to marry Vaivara and spend my life with her. We got engaged in South Africa in 2012 while we were on holiday, traveling around the wine country of the Cape.

There were two or three days when we had the most beautiful weather. She was riding ostriches, and we were stopping and doing wine tastings everywhere. We did a bungee jump, and I guess, riding off that wave, I thought, “Well, I haven’t purchased the ring, but what’s more important is the timing and the place.” On Friday, January 13, I asked her to marry me in Franschhoek. 

How does your engagement story connect with the creation of Taylor & Hart?

When I came back, I didn’t have a ring. We hadn’t started the company yet, but I was in the process of talking with David, my co-founder, about launching a diamond ring company. I went through the frustrations that a lot of our customers have in terms of trying to find a company that could design a ring in the way that I wanted.

I had some very specific ideas. We enjoyed our time in South Africa so much, and I wanted the ring to be inspired by the two oceans meeting at Cape Point. I wasn’t creative enough to know how the ring should look, but I definitely had ideas that I wanted a designer to incorporate. So I went through the process of working with a designer to create the ring. It was my experience that really validated why we should start a business in this space.

I went through the frustrations that a lot of our customers have in terms of trying to find a company that could design a ring in the way that I wanted.

During the process of designing the ring, the most frustrating part was how few companies offered a fully bespoke service. Most companies expected a commitment before you could see something. When we launched our own company, we kept this idea in mind. We wanted to give our customers the confidence that they were doing the right thing before they had to pay anything. Since I was going through this process as well, many of the decisions we made at the time were focused on what’s right for the customer. 

What sets Taylor & Hart apart from other jewelry companies? 

At Taylor & Hart, we always say, ‘We listen first.’ There’s a high level of empathy, of trying to understand our customers’ needs, emotions and preferences and then designing an experience to match them.

As a company, we don’t hold stock, but, at the same time, we’re able to move quickly once a customer has a deadline in mind. It’s always been about being super lean while simultaneously having a fast-track manufacturing experience that produces a high-quality result. We also want to be super transparent about the process of how we make rings and how we source our diamonds and gemstones. All of these lessons come from my engagement experience and wanting to involve my partner in the process while still keeping it a surprise.

We also want to be super transparent about the process of how we make rings and how we source our diamonds and gemstones.

Another thing that sets us apart is our clicks-and-bricks model, which means you can order an engagement or wedding ring online and then visit one of our London or New York showrooms to get a real impression of what we do. At Taylor & Hart, we remove the distance between the screen and the person behind it, adding real value to a digital purchase by capturing each couple’s unique love story. 

What trends do you see in the wedding ring industry today?

One major shift in today’s diamond industry is the demand for transparency. As for gemstones, lab-grown diamonds, which are diamonds grown using technology that mimics the natural diamond growing process, are here to stay. They are a true reflection of the times we live in. Millennial consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the industry’s impact on the environment. Taylor & Hart tries to meet the demand for transparency and ethical diamond creation processes. Every design we craft can be set with lab-grown diamonds. 

Millennial consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the industry’s impact on the environment.

We’ve also noticed an increase in the popularity of yellow gold as a preferred metal of choice. Even grooms, who used to opt for platinum, are taking a bolder step by going for yellow gold. Other trends include the resurgence of colored and fancy-shaped gemstones, as well as engagement rings with narrow, plain or pavé diamond bands. Most of our top 10 engagement rings feature a clean, delicate design for more of a subtle appearance.

How does a wedding ring allow people to tell their stories?

In a time when everyone wants to express themselves, personalization is everything. You can do almost anything when it comes to customizing your engagement or wedding ring. With a variety of metal finishes, combinations and styles available for wedding rings, there’s a design to suit every taste.

One of my favorite examples of custom wedding bands is a matching his and hers set, which had the map of the world cut into the bands. This particular couple loved to travel and wanted this passion to be featured on their rings.

Wedding rings are a reflection of who a couple is. We do our best to match their vision with excellent customer service and seamless execution.

Photo Credit: Taylor & Hart

What design customizations are available at Taylor & Hart?

These days, everyone wants a customized engagement ring or wedding band because anything less feels impersonal. Shoppers are no longer being constrained by the limiting options showcased on local jewelers’ shelves. Thanks to the innovation of softwares like 3D CAD designs and printing, it is now possible for anyone to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that reflect their style and personality, while solidifying their creative freedom.

It is now possible for anyone to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that reflect their style and personality

The metal is the first to offer many options. At Taylor & Hart we work with platinum, 18k gold or a mixture of the two. The metal finishes also vary—from polished to wire brushed to pebbled, there are so many unique looks to a band. 

Photo Credit: Taylor & Hart

Diamonds and gemstones can also be cut into various fancy shapes and set in a number of ways, so if, for instance, you want your center stone to look bigger and brighter, you could put a halo around it or choose a cut that has many facets. Vintage cut diamonds, on the other hand, exude a more subtle and romantic glow.

The finishing touches can also make a great difference. Many brides-to-be personalize their rings with a filigree or milgrain detail, which gives a piece of jewelry an antique twist. When it comes to engraving, even your heartbeat can be captured in a visualized electrocardiograph. Anything is possible!

Photo Credit: Taylor & Hart

Why is it important that the wedding rings and engagement bands at Taylor & Hart are sustainable? 

One of the greatest moments of your life can also serve as a small step toward a better world. Ethical sourcing should be a hygiene factor—something customers should expect.

We know how important it is to feel confident that your ring was sourced from countries and businesses that have ethical policies and business practices. This acknowledgement is what transparency is. We are doing everything we can to ensure this.

What is one of the most creative custom rings that you have seen at Taylor & Hart?

One of the most exciting and creative Taylor & Hart ring designs featured four interlocking rings that came together to create one incredibly special and unique piece. Each of the four rings features half moon or baguette diamonds set in the shape of the first letters of the names of each family member. N for Nicholas, who designed the ring, S for Sophie, his now fiancee, and O for Oriana and L for Leo, their two children.

Each of the rings are engraved on the inside in Latin that says, “sapientia, Victoria, virtus et lumen, manus in manu, in aeternum,” which translates to “wisdom (Sophie), victory (Nicholas), courage (Leo – like a lion) and light (Oriana – new dawn), hand in hand, through eternity.”

Photo Credit: Taylor & Hart

How does Taylor & Hart hope to grow in the future?

The focus of Taylor & Hart will continue to be exceptional customer service and growing our teams of design experts. We want to disrupt the jewelry industry with our bespoke, flexible design process and transparent pricing. Every ring at Taylor & Hart is crafted with love and with the customers’ ideas and stories at heart.

This post is brought to you by Darling partner, Taylor & Hart. We’re proud to partner with brands that strive to create great consumer products. All thoughts and opinions remain Darling’s own.

Feature Image via Raisa Zwart

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