Celebrity jeweler Neil Lane is best known for draping A-listers in red carpet jewels, but he's also got an inside job: He provides the whopping engagement rings for ABC's "The Bachelor."
Lane personally globe-trots with a case of his vintage-inspired diamonds to help the reality show's stars handpick the rings that are part of its dramatic final rose ceremonies.
On this season's March 14 finale, StyleList expects season 15's "Bachelor", hunky Texan Brad Womack, to get on bended knee to offer a Lane ring to his chosen "final rose"; single-mom Emily Maynard or sexy divorcée Chantal O'Brien.
(In previews Womack is shown contemplating what appears to be a cushion-cut Lane diamond with pavé accents.)
StyleList dialed the jeweler at his Beverly Hills store to talk reality rings he's known and loved.
StyleList: Can you give us any proposal scoop?
Neil Lane: I really can't because I'm sworn to secrecy, but I can tell you that Brad's a terrific guy, one of my favorites.
StyleList: You've provided rings for several "Bachelors" and "Bachelorettes" now. Any special memories?
N.L.: Jake (Pavelka) was interesting because he was undecided. He couldn't figure out if it was one ring or the other, because he wasn't sure if it was one girl, or the other. He went back and forth.
Roberto (Martinez) was amazing when he picked out Ali's (Fedotowsky's) ring. He knew exactly what he wanted. It helped that I had met Ali and had a sense of her personality. It always helps when I get to meet the girl! But he was so confident. I could tell he really has a great love for Ali and that was special.
StyleList: How are "The Bachelor" guys different from other prospective grooms you work with?
N.L.: They're all very nervous. But they've got that love bug in their eye. To me, it's all the same whether we are doing it in Bora Bora or here in the states with my regular clients. It's for the most intimate moment of their lives. They want it to be special. It's all about love and romance. Except they are doing it in front of 20 million people.
StyleList: How do you feel when things don't work out -- as is often the case with this show -- and one of your rings was involved?
N.L.: My intentions are always pure and romantic. I'm an optimist and I believe in their love. I see their love. But if it doesn't work out --things happen in the real world-- it's still a pretty ring.
StyleList: This season you outfitted one of Brad's earlier dates, Jackie Gordon, with a million dollars worth of Neil Lane jewels.
N.L.: All I did for that was think of "Pretty Woman," and Julia Roberts, and the box opening and the necklace coming out and all that sparkle! I did all these sexy diamond chains just dripping in diamonds, drop earrings and an amazing cuff. It was like a movie scene. The look on her face was "Oh my God," and she was a princess for that night.
StyleList: How do you decide what rings to show the men?
N.L.: Usually, I go for one or two carats for a center stone and then I think about shapes. I do a cushion-cut, maybe a pear shape. I think, "maybe she's avant garde, maybe she's very classic." I have my bag of tricks with me. It keeps my on my toes because I want to show amazing things, new things from my collection and also, keep the girl's personal style in mind. My main goal is when that girl puts her hand down on a table, you see sparkle all around. I also seem to have magical intuition after all these years. I usually have just the right thing.
StyleList: You have a bridal line at Kay Jewelers now. Can you get a Neil Lane "Bachelor" look on a budget?
N .L: When I launched a line with Kay Jewelers last year it was an opportunity to share my magic with millions of people. For Kay, it's not a $50,000 ring, like you might see on the show. It's a $2,000 to 8.000 ring, but a completely stunning ring. My rings used to be aspirational, but now they're attainable. Some of my Kay customers come in because they are in love with "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." I was in Phoenix visiting a Kay store on Valentine's Day and a couple got engaged right in front of me!