SEATTLE — A diamond engagement ring is timeless - but if you're looking for something a little different, Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry in Madrona specializes in stunning alternative engagement rings.
"When I came on the scene, a very traditional look would be a cushion cut diamond in a platinum halo," Valerie Madison says, owner of her titular company. "To each their own, but I thought I could offer something different. A lot of my clientele are Millennials and younger who are looking for something more unique."
Madison's foray into jewelry began as a hobby in college, as she pursued a degree in Environmental Science at the University of Washington. In her spare time, she made jewelry - and this turned into a blossoming business. Her Madrona store opened in 2020, selling everything from necklaces and earrings to alternative engagement rings.
Alternative means anything other than your traditional white diamond - and there are a wealth of options to choose from.
Madison is a fan of gemstone engagement rings, like an oval blue sapphire with white diamonds, or a ruby in a double halo setting. There's also an art to picking out the best stone for an engagement ring.
"A lot of folks don't know that there are limitations with gemstones and reasons for picking certain ones," Madison says. "We try to communicate and educate on why we work with only some...sapphires are the next hardest thing to diamonds, so we know they're hardy enough for daily wear."
When designing rings, Madison likes to highlight a colorful center stone with smaller white diamonds around the gemstone. And speaking of diamonds, if you'd prefer to stick with a traditional diamond, salt and pepper diamonds are a unique twist on a classic.
"Salt and pepper diamond is essentially a white diamond that grows with carbon inclusions inside of it," Madison says. "It gives it this gray appearance, because diamonds are really good at refracting a lot of light."
From classic to alternative, an engagement ring is as unique as the partnership it represents.
"Even though the world may be going through a lot, love is still happening," Madison says. "And people want to celebrate that. It can be love with a partner, self-love, love with your best friend. Love comes in all forms, and jewelry is a great way to represent it."