7 Mind-Blowingly Unique Engagement Rings From Cool S.F. Gals

In a city as distinct and unique as S.F., it only makes sense that everything we do is a smidge out of the box. And, while there are some traditions we wouldn’t dream of ditching (namely any of them involving food) — sporting a run-of-the-mill engagement ring definitely isn't one of them.
Unsurprisingly, we found seven locals who feel the same, and have opted out of the princess-cut mold for glistening, strikingly one-of-a-kind commitment bling. From a serpent-embellished hoop to a Bliss Lau-designed stunner, see how these ladies made their nuptial baubles just as singular as they are. Prepare to let out some audible oohs and ahhs — this lot is that good.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio

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1 of 14
Name: Laura Hollabaugh
Gig: Fashion Stylist
Hood: Noe Valley

Tell us about your ring.
"The ring is from the 1940s, and the stones are from the late 1800s. There are 12 diamonds that encircle a center diamond, which is surrounded by black enamel detailing."

How did your special someone propose?
"On a seaside drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur, Ryan suggested we pull over to watch the sunset. We walked down a path to a spot overlooking the water, then all of a sudden he got down on one knee and proposed! We celebrated with champagne he had brought, and watched the sun go down."

"Then, he took me to dinner at Post Ranch Inn. We star-gazed through the telescope on the deck and had more champagne by the fire, while sounds of waves crashed in the background — it was lovely. We spent the weekend in Big Sur, and shared the news with family and friends two days later, once we had cell service."
2 of 14
What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"It's beautiful! I love that it was passed down to Ryan, and that it has some family history behind it. Knowing that his grandmother wore it to cocktail parties in the 1940s is pretty magical. It's elegant and completely me."

How would you describe your style? "My style is laid-back. I lean toward easy, sophisticated pieces, with a touch of glamour and vintage — usually accompanied by a slightly tousled 'do."

What’s the story behind the ring?
"The ring belonged to Ryan's grandmother, Jean. The stones were given to Jean by her father, and she designed it."
3 of 14
Name: Mela Asfaha-Grayson
Gig: Wedding Coordinator
Hood: Oakland

Tell us about your ring
"The ring is a square, insertable pavè band set that is 14k white gold with one princess-cut diamond on top and six small diamonds on each side. The wedding band is a square, white-gold ring with diamonds around."

How did your special someone propose?
"My husband proposed at my college graduation celebration in front of friends and family. He asked me to come play a game at the front of the room, then asked the crowd to participate in helping me find my gift. He presented me with three covered trays and asked me to guess which one the gift was under. The crowd was screaming out suggestions on which one I should pick, and I went along with the suggestions."

"One tray had a graduation plush teddy bear, the other one had my favorite cheese cake, and the third one had chocolate-covered strawberries. None of them had my real gift. He then went and presented me with a fourth and final covered tray, which had white-chocolate-covered strawberries and in the middle was a note that said: Will you marry me? Before I could look up he was on his knees and asked me to give him the honor of being his wife."
4 of 14
What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"That the ring is unique and modern. I love that it is square rather than round. I also love that it is white gold."

What’s the story behind the ring?
"I saw this ring in a magazine a year prior, and absolutely loved it. He kept the magazine with the ring and purchased it for me."
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5 of 14
Name: Jenny Chung
Gig: Shop Owner at Acrimony, ACRE/SF, and No.3
Hood: The Richmond

Tell us about your ring.
"It's a completely custom piece that I designed with Bliss Lau. The diamond was chosen by my fiancé. It's a custom-cut round stone with 127 facets — a standard brilliant is 57. The ring is channel-set, so you can slide the middle ring out from the outside bands."

How did your special someone propose?
"On Christmas Eve, in front of the tree, with our two cats wrestling and fighting in the background. He proposed with a family heirloom ring, and made it a point to let me know it was just a place holder for the ring he knew he wanted me to have instead."

What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"It's two pieces, but they are set together, so they don't slide around on my finger because I hate that! If I want to be a little more subtle, I can wear the center piece alone and put the other piece on a different finger, like a knuckle ring! I also love that it's so special, it makes me think of us and how unique our relationship is."
6 of 14
How would you describe your style?
"Unexpected, fun, and non-conformist. I like well-made things that I can wear in multiple ways. My favorite pieces are usually ones that I can dress up and down, which saves me time!"

What’s the story behind the ring?
"Being a part of the process in a custom-design is one of the more amazing experiences in getting engaged. We first met to discuss what things inspire our relationship, what shapes and colors make me think of 'us,' and what elements are absolute musts in the design. From there, she just started to sketch, right in front of me. It was like everything I just said was pouring out of her brain and onto paper. The rest is history!"
7 of 14
Name: Edyta Szyszlo
Gig: Photographer
Hood: Lower Pacific Heights

Tell us about your ring.
"After trying on many rings in various shapes, sizes, and gems from the amazing collection of jewelry artists out there, I felt a simple statement of glamour and the function of multiple rings was more me. So, I have two engagement rings with a third to come for the wedding day. I wanted a textured, earthy-glam style that wouldn't interfere with my hands-on life and career, but still evoked a sweet wow-factor. Both rings are handmade by two different talented artists. The faceted gold band by Ariel Gordon and the thin gold, chocolate-diamond cuff ring by Chinchar/Maloney."

How did your special someone propose?
"After 11-plus years of being with Jared, it happened pretty naturally! I think we talked more about the type of wedding celebration we wanted then realized we should probably just make it official! One night during our cozy in-bed chats, just before falling asleep, we decided to formally ask each other one at a time. It was sweet, no fuss, absolutely us, and absolutely perfect!"

8 of 14
What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"I love the way light hits the faceted edges and creates bling. Both rings have a super-polished style to them but still have handmade quirks. The chocolate diamonds have an incredible chic nude color to them as well!"

How would you describe your style?
"I love quirky bold prints, earthy denim, and neutrals with a dash of glam. A mix of styles, but I'd say I'm somewhere around earthy-chic with a dash of gracefully sexy."

What’s the story behind the ring?
"Because Jared and I have been together so many years, we picked the rings out together. I didn't see the need to put the pressure on him, especially since I'm the one wearing it! After debating between a couple of ring styles, Jared made the final decision. I love that it's unique, non-traditional, made of ethical materials, and can be worn in different ways and different fingers if I want! Both being creatives, it feels great to support other artists' work."
9 of 14
Name: Marie McCarthy
Gig: Shop Owner at Fiat Lux and Rose Gold's Tattoo and Piercing
Hood: Castro/Mission/Haight

Tell us about your ring.
"My now fiancé designed it for over a year with one of our shop favorites, Daisy San Luis. It's platinum with two diamond-encrusted yellow gold snakes with ruby eyes and a 2.8 ct cushion-cut gray diamond center. Daisy says it's the Fort Knox-est of all rings."

How did your special someone propose?
"He actually proprosed twice. Once in private over dinner when it was just the two of us...it was very intimate. But, first publicly to my tattoo shop's Instagram — using our jewelry shop's Instagram. Our lives are intertwined with our shops, so even though I had a feeling he was going to, I loved that all of our shop friends and our family experienced all that excitement with us. I'm still waiting on his third."

How would you describe your style?
"I like to keep people guessing. I wear conventional, clean-cut designer clothing against bold accessories and things that are unexpected. I think life should be full of off-guard surprises that make us laugh a little, and I'd say, in a word, that my personal style is kind of Goop meets Björk."

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10 of 14
What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"I'm a jeweler, and I own a tattoo shop, so anything I wear has to be kind of 'WTF,' and this ring is definitely that. I love that it's heavy so I can feel it — it's a huge chunk of platinum. But it's also a little delicate because the gold snakes make their way to the top in a subtle way. There are diamonds all around the cross and down the backs of the snakes to give it a lighter feel. It's this juxtaposition between light and dark that make this ring so special and such a perfect reflection of our lives. You can also see the mark of the handmade throughout the ring. Daisy actually riveted the cross onto the platinum base rather than just cast it, and little details like this make it so special."

What’s the story behind the ring?
"It combines two images common to both our heritages. So, the base is a cross Alisee, representing my combined French and Gaelic heritage, while the two snakes represent our union, and are derived from ancient Greek jewelry, representing his heritage. Symbolically, the Alisee is a sign of strength and determination while the snakes are signs of rebirth, renewal, and transformation. I can't think of anything more thoughtful and dead-on."
11 of 14
Name: Carolyn Alburger
Gig: Associate Editor at San Francisco magazine
Hood: Nopa

Tell us about your ring.
"The ring is centered around an emerald-cut blue sapphire that was passed down to my fiancé, Blair, from his parents. I created the setting with the enormous help of Ashley Morgan, who is an amazing local jewelry designer."

How did your special someone propose?
"We were in Malaysia, on a small, super-desolate island called Tioman. Blair had his heart set on getting to the other side of the island to see 'The most beautiful beach,' so we negotiated with a toothless man who lent us his scooter. After a death-defying hour-and-a-half ride over the steep island peak, we arrived at the beach."

"Blair was in a funk because he thought it wasn't perfect enough and I had no idea why he was cranky, so I told him to go get us some beers and relax. He went, got some beers, and when he came back, he dropped down on one knee and proposed in the sand. I was 100% surprised. We were just about the only people on the beach. It was magic."

12 of 14
What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"I love that there is no other ring out there like this one. A lot of people think it's vintage, which is exactly what I was going for with the design."

What’s the story behind the ring?
"The sapphire is long, deep, and narrow, so it didn't look right in a typical vertical orientation. It was Ashley's idea to flip the emerald on its side and present it horizontally, which turned out beautifully. I wanted a personalized vintage look, so we went with the leaf design flanking the halo and a leaf-like design holding the sapphire up into the setting. I love the way it turned out!"
13 of 14
Name: Lauren Wolf
Gig: Owner of Esqueleto and Designer of Lauren Wolf Jewelry
Hood: Oakland

Tell us about your ring.
"My engagment ring is an antique piece from the early 1900s. The metal is platinum and the form is an early dye cut with an engraving. The center stone is a brilliant white diamond."

What are your favorite attributes about the ring?
"It's classic, old, and beautiful! And, the best part about the ring, is that I can mix it in with all my other rings, which is an absolute must!"
14 of 14
How did your special someone propose?
"Patrick purchased the ring at one of my favorite spots in Brooklyn, Erie Basin. We used to live next to the shop in Red Hook. He knew this is where I wanted a ring from and he was planning a cross-country motorcycle trip. So, he drove across the country on his bike, picked out a ring, and rode it back home in his jacket pocket! He waited a few weeks to propose after he returned home from his trip. He finally popped the big question at one of our favorite spots, the Paragon at the Claremont Hotel."