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Alexandra HartRussian Doll Design Challenge: Design 1

Alexandra Hart, San Diego

When I read Galina’s story, her family’s ties to their Russian heritage spoke to me. I chose to create her engagement and wedding rings in 18k yellow gold with platinum accents. The kutya—a traditional Russian porridge made of ingredients that symbolize hope, happiness, and peace—helped lay the foundation for sections I would cast in platinum and solder to each side of the cast 18k engagement ring’s shank. I brought the grains, poppy seeds, and honey of the traditional porridge into the design by using 3.25 mm by 1.6 mm marquise-shaped white diamonds for the grains of wheat, 1.2 mm round black diamonds for the poppy seeds, and pear-shaped champagne diamonds for the honey. The asymmetry of the champagne diamonds adds a bit of whimsy and playfulness, something I see in Galina’s personal story. An additional platinum grain of wheat falls from the marquise-shaped diamonds into a deep V in the shank.

Alexandra HartThe alexandrite itself is, of course, the centerpiece of the ring, so I also wanted to bring in royal Russian history in honor of the stone’s namesake, Tsar Alexander II. A three-dimensional double-headed eagle, long a royal Russian symbol, can be seen on each side of the engagement ring. The four prongs holding the alexandrite are actually crowns set with 1 mm diamonds that rest on the eagle’s heads.

Alexandra HartWanting the rings to be not just a cultural symbol, but also a personal symbol, I designed the 18k yellow gold wedding band (or bands, if she would like one on each side) with folds representing the ribbons on ballet slippers, both those worn in the Russian ballets Galina attended and those she might wear as a dancer. The blue enamel over the yellow gold honors the enamel work of Russia’s renowned Fabergé.

From the moment I read the story, I knew I wanted to bring a very personal touch to Galina’s rings. Her Russian traditions combined well with her personal interests, giving her a firm foundation from her past and present life whenever she looks at her rings.

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