Behind The Ring

Behind The Ring

For those of you who know Joe, you know he is a very resourceful person. So it should come as no surprise to learn that he dug the gems for my engagement ring out of the ground. He had always wanted to make the ring his proposed with from scratch. Yes, SCRATCH. He wanted to forage for all the materials down to the silver but after realizing this was a lofty goal, he settled for the gemstones. So how did he do it?

Photography by Cottonwood Road Photography

First, let’s go over the basics. Did you know gemstones are actually minerals but not all minerals are gemstones? Minerals have to be super pretty to be considered gems and those gems are then polished and cut into jewelry-quality stones (Example: Quartz is pretty much worthless but under the right conditions, it’s also amethyst). The minerals lucky enough to call themselves ‘gems’ are classified into two categories based on their rarity:

Precious: diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire.

Semi-precious: Amber, calcite, jade, amethyst, topaz, etc.

This designation can change at a moment’s notice. Amethyst used to be considered one of the cool kids but got demoted as more and more deposits were found. Overall, the value of a gemstone is rated using the “Four C’s”: cut, clarity, color, and carat. The reddest, largest, clearest ruby is considered the best. Pretty simple.  There are a lot of minerals in the United States and there are actually a lot of places that will you allow you to hunt for your own. So Joe had a few options. Luckily for him, Texas is known for its blue topaz and for good reason. Blue topaz occurs naturally in only two places on earth: Brazil and Mason County, Texas, making it pretty rare.

FUN FACT: Did you know that diamonds are not actually rare? The only reason why you see them in the precious gem category is because of a diamond monopoly and really good advertising.


Joe took two trips over a 6 month period to pan for topaz in the creeks of Mason County. On the first trip, he didn’t find anything. But on trip #2, he found the three stones used in my ring. In their natural state, gems are considered “raw” and need to be cut (the Four C’s!) and polished. So just because you find a decent sized gem doesn’t mean that’s the size it’s going to be in the ring. Thankfully the stones he found did the trick and he walked away with a 3 carat white topaz and two 1 carat blue topaz.


He took the gems to his friend’s jewelry studio, Gevandov, and he was able to match Joe up with someone who would cut the topaz for him. Joe chose the arrangement and viola. All he had to do was pop the question. Now, I was fully aware that Joe wanted to make the ring himself. So needless to say, I was a bit nervous as to what the ring was going to look like. Joe knew the types of settings I liked and had asked me general questions on colors and styles. The rest was blind trust that Joe knew what he was doing. On September 18, 2014, he dropped the knee and popped the question. I grabbed the ring out of his hand before he could finish the proposal.

was absolutely floored by how good he did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ring and so

Photo by Ron Accord Photography

much work and thought went into it. One of my favorite things about it is the fact its not perfect. If you look closely, there is an “impurity” in the main stone. Looks like a splinter. What a perfect reminder that marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

If you are interested in hunting for topaz (or any rocks or minerals), Joe and I would love to be your guides. Let us know!



The List

The List

Fun fact about me: I lead a bible study/small group of soon to be 9th grade girls. In 6th grade, after going through a biblical dating series, I had them write down their ideal husband so as to show them years later how ridiculous their versions of the perfect man were. I was going through them a few days ago and stumbled upon something I didn’t expect to find: my own list! Even crazier: I made this list 2 months before dating my husband.  As I realized the timing of my wishlist, I was curious to compare the man I thought I wanted with the man that I married.



The “Real List” (left):

  • A man after God’s own heart. Found him :).
  • Has self control and respects my boundaries. Little did I know that the man I would marry would not only respect physical boundaries but put a ‘no kissing’ rule in place.  I was not happy about that at first but am so thankful for it now!
  • We agree on politics and theology. Early on in our relationship, we had a lot of tough conversations about the age of the Earth. Joe, being a geophysicist, believes the earth to be millions of years old. I grew up as a young earth supporter, vowing anyone who disagreed with me “wasn’t really a believer”.  Needless to say, this was a sore issue for me. In the end, it provided both of us an opportunity to study scripture and science, learning that the two don’t have to be opposites. Science and scripture can be used to support both views.
  • Wants to have kids. We want a minimum of 3 and already have their names picked out (nicknames, too).
  • Good at confrontation and communication. I find this one hilarious because prior to dating Joe I would have told you I was the worst at conflict and communication. Why did I put such high standards on the man pursuing me? Thankfully, Joe and I are learning to be better communicators as we deal with conflict. Something that doesn’t come easy for the both of us.

The “Fun List” (right):

  • Can dance. For anyone who has seen Joe work the dance floor, I can proudly say I married the best and worst dancer I’ve ever met in my life. He can two-step something fierce and also freak dance (for lack of a better term). We have literally had requests for what his ‘fans’ refer to as “The Airplane”. Ask Joe when you see him…
  • Slender with dark hair. Basically the opposite of Joe. And to be honest, I don’t know what I meant by ‘slender’. If I meant that health is important to the guy, then Joe fits that bill. But it kinda sounds like I wanted a member of One Direction… which is gross to think about. Who knows…
  • Will take me to musicals. This one seems weird to y’all but I have grown up loving musical theater and musicals are a huge part of my childhood. So I was super pumped to find out Joe likes them too. Or at least doesn’t hate them.
  • Has good taste in fashion and music. I honestly have no idea why this is even on this list. Fashion and music have never been things I cared about. And I married a man who had a mullet for three months and who loves Icelandic rock music. But he can sure rock a bow tie.
  • Can sing. Not the worst singer in the world.
  • Wants to stay in Dallas or Texas. He didn’t for a long time. For the first 1.5 years we dated he wanted to move to Ohio or overseas which was not cool with me. We both grew in that area. I learned to have the heart of Ruth (Ruth 1:16) and he learned that Dallas is a pretty cool place.

Finding this list made me reflect on a very important lesson: God is a far better matchmaker than I am. If I had gotten everything on my list, I would have married an extremely weird combination of Gene Kelly and Kirk Cameron. Was my heart in the right place? For the most part, yes.  But let’s be real. When we think of the ‘perfect man’, we don’t think of a human being. We think of storybook character. We think of all these qualities and all these attributes that really mean jack-squat. The perfect man exists but He died on a cross and rose again over 2,000 years ago. So when we look for who we want to marry, we shouldn’t look through rose-colored glasses, we should look through the lens of the cross.

The first time I met my husband he was barefoot, had long hair, and spoke 4 sentences to me. He is completely opposite of my personality type, would prefer I made my own deodorant, and thinks showering everyday is a waste of water. And I couldn’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. I am truly in awe that I could love someone so much. Little did I know 3 years ago that my 8th graders wouldn’t be the only ones getting a lesson.