A Match Made in Heaven
By Sallie W. Boyles | Photography courtesy of Verragio
The familiar scene is easy to imagine: A woman, bursting with joy, holds up her left hand to display a ring on her fourth finger. Her excitement immediately spreads to her friends, who suddenly realize she’s engaged. The details will be forthcoming, but their immediate focus is on the ring—the brilliance, cut, and size of the center stone; the precious metal and design features of the setting; the ring’s full effect, which speaks volumes about her personality, his desire to please, and their shared commitment.
While the majority of today’s brides and grooms tend to envision a sparkling white diamond for the engagement ring’s center stone, most want something that’s a little different from everyone else’s. They might decide to incorporate stones from a piece of inherited jewelry, mix metals, or add colored gems. Although they value certain customs, couples today are eager to start their own traditions and, therefore, they desire options.
With so many possibilities for engagement rings, consumers benefit from trusted experts who help them navigate the myriad of choices. Priscilla and Bob, owners of Emerald Lady Jewelry of Destin, Florida, say that guiding couples to select rings and designs of enduring quality is a highly gratifying role and, consequently, the reason they represent designer Barry Verragio’s five unique wedding collections for women and men.
Priscilla first took note of Verragio a few years ago while optimizing Emerald Lady’s website. “I kept seeing their sponsored links,” she says. As a fine jewelry retailer who joined her parents’ business seventeen years ago, eventually taking over Emerald Lady after her mother retired, Priscilla was extremely impressed with Barry Verragio’s stunning designs and uncompromised craftsmanship. “I had a feeling about Verragio,” she continues. “There was no question the line would be part of our store.”
A number of qualities distinguish Verragio from other manufacturers. Specializing in engagement rings, perfectly matched wedding bands for women, and complementary bands for men, Barry Verragio captures old-world elegance while injecting his own contemporary vision, one that is entirely fresh and unexpected. The attention to detail begins with his signature trademark—located beneath the center stone mounting—which incorporates two scrolls that join at a diamond. Having recently enhanced the insignia with an outline of pavé diamonds, the designer continues to build upon his miniature masterpieces.
Nothing escapes his discernment. Smoothly finished edges, for instance, make Verragio’s rings remarkably comfortable to wear. His jewelry artisans produce each piece individually, according to the wearer’s ring size and the particular center stone he or she desires, provided by the retailer. They also set every stone, including the pavé diamonds, by hand, to ensure every detail is perfect.
Verragio also accommodates customers who request changes to his creations, such as substituting colored gemstones for diamonds. In addition to varying the types of stones used, customers appreciate the freedom to select 14-karat or 18-karat white, yellow, or rose gold, or platinum, as well as having the option to add accents of contrasting metal colors. All orders are, in effect, custom crafted, but if someone wants an entirely original piece, the possibilities are endless—with one caveat: to maintain the integrity of his brand, Barry Verragio personally approves all modified elements to his core designs. This, combined with Emerald Lady’s own design sensibilities, ensures that every customer receives the kind of individualized, personal service and guidance they would want and expect while making such an important purchase decision.
With so much personal discretion, customers rarely purchase the ring in the showcase, even if they fall in love with the setting. “In the past two years, we’ve possibly had two Verragio sales that were not special orders,” says Bob. One customer, for instance, wanted to remount a marquise diamond in a Verragio setting intended for a round stone, so Verragio added prongs to adjust the mounting. Although round brilliant and princess cut are currently the most popular diamond shapes, Verragio and Emerald Lady also cater to those who don’t want what everyone else has. They have created rings featuring virtually all diamond cuts, including cushion, radiant, asscher, oval, and heart.
“What we love about Verragio is that the rings become personal heirlooms, not run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter pieces,” says Priscilla. “Unlike other wedding ring manufacturers that mass-produce their products overseas and use mediocre grades of accent stones, Verragio selects diamonds which are among the highest color and clarity grades of any national brand. We’re about building relationships, and so is Verragio. We’re known for our quality and they’re known for the same. In short, we’re a perfect match.”
This is one of the biggest decisions people make. It’s a joy to share these special moments in our customers’ lives and help them select and create a spectacular ring they will cherish forever.
In many ways, Barry Verragio, a Moscow native, is unlike his contemporaries. An artist by nature, he always enjoyed working with his hands and creating “something out of basically nothing.” After moving to Manhattan at the age of fourteen, he enrolled in a city-subsidized jewelry fabrication course and quickly became a jeweler’s apprentice. Along with his detailed metalwork, Barry showed an affinity for using all shapes and sizes of diamonds. He proceeded to learn on the job as a bench jeweler for ten years, but he also spent four years at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where a particular professor, Maurice Galli, left a lasting impression.
While encouraging Barry to pursue bridal jewelry, a sector in which a talented designer can flourish by creating timeless pieces, Galli also reminded him to keep the woman in mind while designing. For example, just as a gown should enhance, not overpower, a woman’s beauty, a ring should complement, not overwhelm, the beauty of the stones. Living by that philosophy, Barry Verragio developed his own trademark setting technique, the Lumino, which suspends the diamond to reveal all sides of the stone, thereby exposing every facet to light.
As a result, what comes to light are the exquisite qualities of each Verragio ring. “After couples look at the collections, we encourage them to go shop around at other stores,” says Bob. When they return to Emerald Lady for their Verragio rings, he says, customers have no doubt they are making the right choice.
“This is one of the biggest decisions people make,” says Priscilla. “It’s a joy to share these special moments in our customers’ lives and help them select and create a spectacular ring they will cherish forever.”
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Emerald Lady Jewelry is proud to be the exclusive Verragio boutique in the Florida Panhandle. Hours of Operation: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Tuesday–Saturday, and by appointment. For more information, visit www.emeraldladyjewelry.com.