Texas A&M entrepreneur designs unique diamond wraps for treasured school rings
Emily Huskinson loved her new Aggie class ring. But her creative instincts prompted her to add a little bling to distinguish hers from those worn by all her classmates.
The senior from Flower Mound developed the idea of adding diamond-encrusted bands around her ring. She wanted them to be classy and tasteful – nothing gaudy – and to enhance, rather than detract from, the elegance of her iconic Aggie ring.
She approached Scott Polk, president of Lyles-DeGrazier, a major Dallas-based supplier of high-end diamonds, with her design and asked him to bring it to life. At first, she hesitated to reveal her intentions to wrap her Aggie ring since, as she says, “Scott is an A&M alumnus and I wanted to be the only girl to have them!” Polk delivered a gorgeous wrap that fit perfectly around Huskinson’s ring. She was delighted.
That could have been the end of the story. But then Polk suggested that Huskinson build a business around her new creation, given its potentially enormous appeal to Aggie students and alumni.
“I was reluctant at first, because I had designed the wrap just for myself,” remembers Huskinson. “But when a master jeweler warns you that someone would surely steal the idea, you’re wise to listen. When Scott agreed to be my partner in the business, I figured I’d be crazy not to go for it.”
Roughly one year later, in this past February, College Ring Wraps was officially unveiled. Initial interest from the Aggie faithful has been extremely encouraging. “The wraps have been ‘blowing up’ on Pinterest,” says Huskinson. “We’re holding trunk shows every weekend, which gives girls a chance to try on the wraps. We find that once they see how their ring looks with a wrap, they have a hard time getting it out of their mind. They usually say ‘I have to have this!’ We expect to be very busy taking orders around graduation and during the holiday season.”
Ring Wraps’ patent-pending design (Patent Ser. No. 29/403,216) incorporates a matching pair of 10K yellow gold diamond ring wraps, each containing .30 carat weight (.60 carats total) of common prong set round brilliant cut diamonds with G-H color and SI quality. The meticulously handcrafted wraps are held together with an inner two-bar guard on the backside to stabilize and encase the modern Aggie ring. The wrap retails for $1,950.
Huskinson projects sales of 500 ring wraps for the rest of 2012, almost all of which will be sold to current students. Volumes are expected to grow exponentially thereafter as the company reaches out to the vast, and fiercely loyal, Texas A&M alumni base. Ring Wraps has been officially certified as “Aggie Owned & Operated,” an important designation for companies hoping to tap the tradition-rich university’s alumni.
“Aggie rings are treasured possessions that the vast majority of female students eagerly anticipate,” notes Huskinson. “’Ring Day’ is one of the biggest days of the year, and we hope to add our special touch to this proud tradition.”
Huskinson eventually plans to expand to other universities where class rings are similarly prized. But since each school’s design is slightly different, manufacturing modifications must be made.
“We customize each Aggie wrap to the ring wearer’s size, but the basic shape remains the same,” explains Polk. “We think our fellow Aggies will keep us plenty busy for the first year, so we’ll probably hold off on expanding to other universities until after that.”
The company has branched out into custom-designing wraps for wedding bands as well.
Huskinson, who is on track to graduate in December, has gotten a crash course in business management, marketing, operations, accounting and law, while still taking a full course load. She hired an intellectual property lawyer to file a patent on her design, and retained another attorney to structure her business. She has hired models for professional photo shoots and a graphic designer to create a “classy and tasteful” web site (www.ring-wraps.com).
Huskinson has funded most of her out-of-pocket expenses from the proceeds of another venture, Rowdy Rags, which she began earlier in her college career. That business, which designs and sells unique game-day apparel, is still operating, but has taken a back seat to Huskinson’s latest entrepreneurial endeavor.
Polk is doing his part to keep costs down on the manufacturing end during the ramp-up phase.
“I’m really excited about the response we’re getting to Ring Wraps, from students and alumni alike,” she said. “Everybody loves how the wraps add a distinctive element to the Aggie ring. We started taking orders the first day we opened for business, and we’re well on our way to a very strong first quarter.”
For more information on College Ring Wraps, including photos of the product, visit www.ring-wraps.com.