David Yurman on the Importance of an Engagement Ring

When David Yurman first proposed to his then-girlfriend, Sybil, she demurred. The second time, her answer was the same. “Sybil knew we were a great team, but her bohemian spirit had always resisted the idea of tying the knot,” recalls the famed jewellery designer whose understated, sculptural collections have made his name synonymous with contemporary luxury. A man less in love might have been discouraged, but David’s persistence—and the couple’s commitment to each other—eventually won out, giving their engagement story the kind of happy ending usually reserved for romantic comedies.

David and Sybil Yurman met in 1969 while he was working for artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp in New York City. “Sybil was a sight to see… I was immediately intrigued,” says David of the woman who would become his muse, his business partner, and (after at least 10 attempts) his wife. She was a painter, he was a sculptor, and their creative collaboration, which began at the same time as their romantic one, continues to this day. Now, almost 50 years later, that partnership has resulted in a revered global brand and hundreds of timeless designs, including a line of elegant engagement rings.

Instead of merely setting stones in a band, the Yurmans approach the design of their bridal jewellery the same way as they approach every other piece they create: as a work of art that tells a unique story. “Engagement rings are the ultimate symbol of the unity and strength of a relationship,” says David, who advises couples to choose a design that serves as a constant reminder of the strength of their bond while complementing their personal aesthetics.

“When we started to think about creating bridal jewellery, we wanted to create rings that were designed and set around the stone—not the other way around,” he says. “This way, no two rings are alike, and each bride can have her own interpretation of both stone and design to match her lifestyle.”

Among their standout designs are the Crossover, featuring a crisscrossed pavé-set band inspired by a series of Sybil’s paintings, and the Wisteria, with an intertwined band reminiscent of creeping vines. “Our bridal offerings feature something for every bride-to-be,” says Sybil of their ever-expanding collections, which also include Lanai, with its pavé diamond-finished twist rings, and a line of faceted metal rings inspired by the work of pioneering contemporary artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay.

As to whether a bride should choose her own ring or expect her partner to do the work, Sybil remains ever the headstrong pragmatist. “I think deciding how and when a bride gets involved should be completely up to the couple,” she says. “We do see more women visiting our bridal counters alone to try on different styles, and I think that’s wonderful. Ultimately, though, whether fiancés visit alone or as a couple, our in-store wedding specialists are experts, and they are there to seamlessly guide couples through the entire process.”

More than a decade after they met, Sybil finally accepted David’s proposal, but they continued to do things in their own unconventional, bohemian way. “On our way to the ceremony, Sybil asked me if I had the rings,” David recalls. “Rings? What rings? So I ran back to our loft and soldered two simple gold bands together—one band for Sybil, double bands for me. We still have them. These rings still symbolize our partnership, and the shapes and forms we create together.”