The third ring, which took me 6 years to make
I bought this first ring in 2004, for my girlfriend of three months. We’re now married, but I couldn’t imagine back then that she’d someday become my wife. Before we started dating, it was hard for me even to imagine being someone’s boyfriend. Three months into our relationship, I’d developed more confidence and felt better about myself and my place in the world; this ring conveys my gratitude for all my wife means to me, and what our relationship has done for me. I spent 400 dollars on this ring, a lot of money for an 18-year-old living in China, considering that the average salary was about $300 per month at that time.
This is our engagement ring, which features a one-carat VVS diamond. It cost about $10,000 in 2012.
Every year I buy her birthday presents, anniversary gifts, and little things for Valentine’s Day. These gifts are a bit more practical than the rings: tablets, iPhones, Gucci bags, and so on.
But you can’t very well buy your wife a new iPhone for each holiday, and pretty soon I was struggling to come up with new gift ideas. Then I discovered Luck's portrait projecting ring. I loved the design and thought my wife would, too…but it was a one-off that Luck made for his wife. He encouraged me to make one of my own, and the idea stuck with me. As an engineer, I have a practical turn of mind and expected to budget a good amount of time to make a ring along the lines of the one I’d seen. I never expected that the project would take me five years.
I started by identifying a suitable lens produced by a local optical factory. Then I made a prototype of the ring’s body out of plastic. That first attempt looked all right, but its lack of precision kept it from maintaining appropriate focus on the photograph in the ring’s center. To solve that problem, I spent a year learning 3D modeling software, which let me create a highly precise ring body on a 3D printer.
Everything went well until I projected the image onto a wall: the projected image was blurred beyond recognition. This, I quickly discovered, was due to the source picture, which I had printed on a transparent plastic sheet using a standard color printer. It looks fine at a glance, but when magnified by a factor of 100 and beamed to a wall, its resolution simply wasn’t great enough.
I needed a much higher-resolution slide than conventional equipment was able to produce. And I had no idea where to find it.
I started by contacting museums and libraries all over the world to see if they could make a slide of an appropriate resolution. None provided that service to the public; none at the time even created high-resolution images in color, since black-and-white images were ideal for creating digital archives of documents. I spent three years looking for someone to produce a slide that would work in my projector ring until a film factory agreed to create one for me. The result was exactly what I needed, and I am very happy with the results. My wife is happy, too. The ring may be made of plastic, but it’s also made with love.
That first successful ring encouraged me to study jewelry-making more seriously, and to broaden my skillset. After plenty of trial and error and scores of lessons learned, in 2019 I finally made the first projector ring of which I am unreservedly proud.
My wife loved her third ring so much that she showed it off to her friends, which led some of them to ask if I could make projecting rings for them. After six years of work and study, and dozens of prototypes, I have turned my initial whim into a full-fledged business.
If you are intrigued by the projecting ring (and the stories behind it), I invite you to order one for your special someone.