Renee Shaab knew exactly what she wanted in a diamond engagement ring long before fiancée Chris Kaufmann popped the question on Dec. 17, the last night of Hanukkah in 2020.
The Los Angeles resident, who is a group sales manager at vintage e-commerce site The RealReal, had befriended fellow Angeleno Chelsey Bartrum, founder of Starling Jewelry, six years prior—and the two already had history working with the designer on custom pieces.
“I would do styling projects with her and she’d pay me back in jewelry,” Shaab explains. “She’s made me a gold anklet that I haven’t taken off in five or six years. So, when it came to the engagement, I knew it was Chelsea. I told Chris, ‘Chelsea knows exactly what to do.’”
Shaab had been collecting photographs of rings from no specific brands on Instagram for years (she and Kaufman will tie the knot on Dec. 5, the last day of Hanukkah). And she’d always come back to one style: an emerald-cut diamond set east/west on a thin yellow gold band.
She showed her Instagram page to Bartrum, and soon after the designer pinned down a diamond she knew Shaab would like. From there, the collaboration flowed quickly and naturally.
Aside from the fact that they were friends and frequent collaborators, Shaab says she liked that Bartrum works with recycled metals, and that all her pieces are locally-made in L.A. It also felt right to support a small business and a friend. Choosing an “off-the-rack” ring just wasn’t an option.
Bartrum’s history of repurposing heirloom jewelry also meshed with Shaab’s love of vintage pieces. “All of that was super-important to me,” she says. And because the band is very thin, the ring can also be stacked with other rings to create different looks, a plus for the fashion-loving Angeleno.
Her future hubby, Kaufmann, will likely choose a solid gold band, in the Jewish tradition, also made by Starling Jewelry. Shaab’s wedding band will be her great grandmother’s ring, an heirloom that was handed down to her mom. Her wedding-day jewelry will be vintage pieces, including earrings and a necklace, sourced from The RealReal.
All photos courtesy of Renee Shaab