Neil Lane knows a thing or two about diamonds. The Bachelor's go-to ring designer has also been Hollywood's longtime favorite for red carpet jewels, creating pieces worn by Madonna, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, Naomi Campbell, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Taylor Swift's bathtub filled with $10 million of sparkling ice in the "Look What You Made Me Do" video? That was Neil Lane ice. But America may love Lane most for his dazzling engagement rings, used by the brides and grooms who find love on ABC's The Bachelor.
To celebrate tonight's Season 22 premiere (8 p.m. ET) and the launch of Lane's new InStyle column, I Dos and Don'ts with Neil Lane, the jewelry maker spoke candidly about what goes into a Bachelor engagement ring, where the rings go if a couple (gulp) splits up, and his favorite-ever behind-the-scenes moments.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing an engagement ring's design? What I have found from designing rings for my clients is that the setting has to be perfectly suited to the woman. The ring should be just as fitting on her finger as it is befitting of her lifestyle. Does she work with their hands and need an understated ring that will feel natural? Or is she more of a socialite who will enjoy a more opulent piece? I create each ring with the notion that it will go on to have its own life and intertwine with that of its wearer.
How do you personalize the rings to each Bachelor bride? I actually start the design process long before I meet the groom. I draw from decades of design experience to anticipate emerging styles and trends and then incorporate them into the engagement rings. By presenting a full collection of handmade couture designs, I can ensure that there will be a fitting ring that feels as though it was created especially for the bride-to-be. The groom and I spend a lot of time together while he’s selecting the ring. We collaborate and through our dialogue, he reveals the characteristics that make his bride and the relationship he has with her unique. With these concepts in mind, I help guide him to the ring that is the true embodiment of his love for her.
Which was your favorite Bachelor engagement ring to design? It’s impossible to choose a favorite ring. It would be like choosing a favorite child! Every season of the show feels like a brand-new experience for me. There’s a different spirit and energy, and the connection the couple has with each other is unique to them. This newness keeps me on my toes and is especially refreshing. At the end of the day, every groom wants the same thing, the most beautiful ring for his bride.
VIDEO: "The Bachelor" Engagement Rings Cost How Much?!
What's your favorite part about working on the show? The Bachelor has taken me to some of the most beautiful places in the world—places I never imagined I would see. Visiting the Great Buddha of Thailand, exploring game preserves in Africa, and climbing to the Matterhorn in Switzerland are a few amazing experiences that stand out.
Yet the most special thing for me is being part of a couple’s love story, both during the show and continuing in their lives afterwards. Some of my favorite moments have been designing gifts for the families after the show is over. I’ve done it all! Anniversary bands, push presents, baby gifts. I made a diamond band for Catherine and Sean Lowe (Season 17) to celebrate the birth of their first child. They are such lovely people, and it has been an uplifting experience for me share in their joy and journey.
I think every viewer wonders: What happens to the ring if a Bachelor couple splits up? The truth is, I don’t know. I make each and every ring with a great deal of care and passion, with the couple’s lasting love in mind. It’s my hope that the spark between them lasts forever. And if it doesn’t, I like to think that the ring goes to heaven.
Do you watch the show yourself? Honestly, before I started working on the show I hadn’t watched much of it. However, when I got involved, I quickly became immersed in the extraordinary world of The Bachelor. I’m continually impressed by the sincerity of the show’s staff and crew. They truly believe in the process and are enthusiastic about its unique path to finding love. Years ago, online dating was considered to be taboo. But, I’ve done so many rings for people who have met their soul mates on dating sites. Love is love, no matter how you find it. While the show’s premise may be unconventional, it works. I support it and love being part of it.
Do you believe in the one/two/three-months' salary approach to budgeting? We are lucky to be living in an era where anything goes! On one side of the spectrum, couples are buying brand new engagement rings from established jewelers. Others look to jewelry collectors to help them discover a vintage piece with a rich history. It’s most important to buy a ring that reflects the relationship you have with the one you love. Buying an engagement ring is one of the most significant expenses in a person’s life. It’s OK to splurge a little because it’s an investment in a future filled with love. There is no better investment in my opinion.
Today also marks the launch of your InStyle.com column, I Dos and Don'ts with Neil Lane. What kinds of questions are you most excited to tackle in it? I’ll be discussing everything that has to do with weddings and beyond. From choosing the perfect ring, venue, and aesthetic, to floral arrangements, registries, and more. People know me from The Bachelor and my bridal and couture collections, but that's just the tip of the iceberg! I have decades of experience collecting silver, fine period jewelry, and antiques, and studying the history and culture surrounding the entire bridal experience. I’m excited to be a resource for readers and share my knowledge with them. Some people don’t believe that they have their own aesthetic, but everyone does. I want to help each person draw out his or her individual sense of style and bring it to its full potential for their wedding day and beyond.
Read Lane's column, I Dos and Don'ts with Neil Lane, here. Have a wedding quandary you'd like Neil to tackle next? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "I Dos and Don'ts."