Whether you’re one of those chicks who has dreamt about their wedding day for your entire life, or you’re one of the go-with-the-flow brides who really just wants to party; at some point, your heart chose the engagement ring of your dreams. A rose gold pave band, princess cut or morganite, something simple or a ROCK, whatever you (or your fiancé) chose, it’s yours.
Before your beau gets down on one knee, and for a day or so afterwards, it’s all about the ring. But the excitement of the wedding soon takes over; the date, the dress, the venue – it’s a whirlwind of decisions. Thankfully, your new favorite piece of jewelry, a symbolic promise, is right there with you. I’m sickeningly obsessed with my white-gold, pave, oval Brilliant Earth diamond – like post about it once a week even though we got engaged a year and a half ago. *Kanye shrug* I have pinned thousands of oval rings, gushed over hundreds of ring styles and options so hard, praying that my fiancé would take the hint. I really have a thing for them, so I fell head over heels in love when I stumbled upon Saint Louis artist, Jilleun Schmitt.
Jilleun crafts one of the most unique engagement gifts I’ve ever seen: personalized sketches of enagement/wedding rings; each so unique and custom to the bride-to-be it accessorizes, it’s such a sentimental piece of art that commemorates a GIANT milestone (that is often placed on the back burner in the rush of wedding planning!)
Read our interview, fall in love with her art and then head over to her shop to purchase your own!
Jilleun, thank you so much for allowing me and my brides to learn more about you. Can you start off by telling us about yourself?
I am a recent college grad with a degree in Graphic Design! I absolutely love to create and share my creativity with others! You can normally find me in my art room painting some stress away, or finding the next Netflix show to binge. I’m born and raised Southern Illinois, but recently moved to St. Louis for work, where I’m a full-time graphic designer!
When did you realize that the wedding industry was the right fit for you?
The wedding industry kind of fell into place, rather than me seeking it out. I had always been fascinated with weddings (I’m a die-hard Monica Geller level planner), but never thought of it as a place I could work in. Once I made my first ring painting and saw the uniqueness of the community I was completely sold on it.
At what point did the ring sketch come into play – the moment you thought, “okay, this is a staple shop item!”
I actually didn’t really take my creativity seriously until college. I helped paint some pieces for my sorority and decided to go the creative route. I soon changed my major (from Chemistry) and never looked back!
With the rings, the first one I had ever made was from a friend. She saw the idea online and wanted to see if I could bring it to life. It was a challenge, but one I’m so glad I took! I knew then that this piece could be cool to add to my shop, but it wasn’t until I actually gifted one to a close friend that I knew that this was my staple item. Just watching the bride open it and how speechless she was brought me so much joy. They truly make such an awesome gift
In your own words, why is this such a great gift idea?
The engagement ring is such an amazing symbol for the step you are about to take to marriage and spending your entire life with someone. I believe the best gifts are personalized and unique. These portraits kind of bring that all together. They show the detail of the ring so simply, and in a way that can be displayed for the future. It’s such an important milestone in your life, and I really think these portraits are such a unique way of displaying that.
You also do you calligraphy (which is stunning) but between words and rings, which is your favorite?
I am not really sure I can decide between the two! The rings are so fascinating because it’s almost like a dive into critical thinking and geometry – figuring out the cut and the shape of the diamond and how to bring that to life with only some water and paint. Every portrait is so different, and that challenge to dissect the ring and illustrate it is one of my favorite parts. On the other end, calligraphy is where I began my shop. It’s become a stress-reliever for me and one of my biggest hobbies. I wish I could decide, but I think it would truly be too close to call!
Can you walk us through the process of ordering one?
Of course! I do all of my business on Etsy as of now. To order, it’s as simple as purchasing the Etsy listing, and in the section in your cart that says “Add a note to artbyjilleun” put what you’d like written underneath the illustration. Then, I will message you for a photo of the ring! The most important thing with the photos are that they are close and in-focus! There are so many details in these rings. I take all of those into account when painting – number of diamonds in the halo, how the diamonds have been attached, size of the band vs. center, etc. – so the clearer the photo the better! I typically send a photo of the ring before I ship it out to make sure it’s what you’re looking for! It’s typically a 2 week turnaround for the entire process.
What is your favorite ring silhouette to draw/watercolor?
I was just introduced to Heidi Gibson rings and I am obsessed. One of the first rings I had ever done was a Heidi ring with a moldavite stone. The details in the ring were just incredibly stunning and unlike anything I had ever seen. I think that one will always be one of my favorites.
You’re a wedding coordinator yourself! Any top tips that you’d give to brides?
First, all crafts aside: Get. A. Day. Of. Coordinator! The last thing you want to do on your big day is worry about where the programs are, or setting up the flowers at the church, or have 3 vendors calling you at once. Even if you don’t have a wedding planner. Get a coordinator! You can negotiate their involvement, but you will not be sorry!
Okay, now to the crafty tips. Shop small! Buying signage from a small shop can typically guarantee you even better customer service, and you have more communication to ensure you are getting just what you’re picturing! I know that I personally send sketches of what I’m thinking before I make any signs at all! When you shop small, you truly make someone’s day, and we work so hard to give you a near perfect piece for your day!
Also, find a style you like and try to get everything from the same person! Everyone letters a little differently and creates a little differently, and having that remain consistent will look so clean and elegant on your big day! And don’t be afraid to ask if they can help design other things! I try to offer as much as I can to help out – design services for programs, snapchat filters, reception signs, etc. It takes the weight off of you, and you get exactly what you’re envisioning!
What is your favorite part about crafting signage and details for weddings?
My favorite part is honestly just being able to be a part of their special day. Most of the time the people I create for don’t know me, but knowing I made something that took a little bit of the stress off and brought their vision to life makes what I do so enjoyable.
NOW THAT ALL MY BRIDES ARE IN LOVE WITH YOUR WORK – HOW CAN THEY COMMISSION YOU?
I am available pretty much 24/7 via Etsy convo or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Making sure the process is as simple as possible and I can answer all questions along the way is so important, so I do my best to provide all of that.
To order, it’s just following this link and sending me photos! I try to keep the process as simple as possible!
Gift something special or spoil yourself, purchase your personalized ring portrait here.
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