Margaret Cross is an independent fine jewelry designer who occupies a unique space in the market. She specializes in mourning jewelry: jewelry designed to beautifully memorialize a lost loved one. Though she also crafts every day fine jewelry, Cross has become the go-to designer for mourning jewelry that feels personal and timeless, but also very much on trend.
Recently, the Brooklyn-based designer announced that while she’ll continue to create custom mourning pieces, she also plans to drop bi-annual collections of engagement rings featuring many of the same hallmarks she uses in her remembrance pieces, including salt and pepper diamonds and macabre imagery. Have a bride in the market for an edgy engagement solitaire style with skulls on the shank? Cross is your designer.
Cross, who founded her collection in 2009, says she’s always loved making alternative bridal rings, but “over the years my focus has shifted to working with clients to create custom mourning pieces.”
Her new plan—releasing a small collection of one-of-a-kind diamond rings twice a year—makes doing both more feasible. The first collection of rings, which are featured in this story, dropped this month; the second will debut in the fall. We caught up with the designer to chat about the new series.
Have you had collections of ceremony/bridal rings in the past?
Yes! I like to start with the stones, or a theme, and build a cohesive collection around it. My first collections of diamond rings sold on my website and at Love Adorned here in NYC. The problem became that designing new collections was frequently put on the back burner as I fulfilled custom requests (for nearly identical designs in these collections, as often happens). So, I wasn’t sitting down and coming up with new designs as often as I would like.
What made you want to dive more into ceremony/bridal?
I absolutely love creating these celebratory pieces. It’s really the perfect complement to mourning jewelry—love and loss go hand in hand. I love hearing the stories of the people who buy these engagement rings and creating deeper connections with them. Very often this is their second piece, and the first was a mourning piece, or vice versa. It’s such an honor to be the designer chosen to create these milestone pieces in a person’s life.
The plan is to have twice-annual drops of diamond rings?
My clients love to propose around the holidays and on summer vacations. So, keeping that in mind, drops in the spring and fall seem to make the most sense. I thought, let’s give them lots of time because rushing for a ring is no fun! Spring & Fall also happens to be the name of one of my favorite poems by Gerard Manly Hopkins that I encourage everyone to check out.
Love the salt and pepper diamonds you use! Why do you love them — and do you prefer them over colorless diamonds?
I do, I particularly love finding diamonds with distinct “peppering,” carbon inclusions formed at the time of its creation. If it were up to most, all of these bits would be left on the cutting room floor. I think we can forget that these diamonds were dug from the earth. I also love the idea of a stone that “isn’t recognized” by diamond grading systems because of its perceived “flaws.” Although I can appreciate a colorless diamond, there is so much beauty in the imperfections. I think my customers tends to want a unique stone, and truly no two salt and pepper diamonds are alike.
Design-wise, what did you strive for in this collection?
Something that makes you feel really good, and cool, while being timeless, and with hidden details. Like, including a secret skull or an engraving for your eyes only. I wanted to make [designs] you still want to wear every day in 20 or 40 years and pass on for generations.