Life Stories

When choosing an engagement ring, you search endlessly for the ultimate ring that not only sets itself apart from all the others, but a ring that will be an absolute representation of your unique bond. Similar to the uniqueness of each Gabriel design, each proposal is unlike the next. Everyone’s love is beautifully one-of-a-kind.

Ephraim and Heather's Proposal Story

Ephraim was filming a promotional video for a local bank when Heather caught his eye.
“The first time I saw her was through my camera’s viewfinder and I’m not going to lie, I may have paused panning for just a bit to try and get a better glimpse of her.”

Days after filming, Ephraim visited that same bank to apply for a business loan. During his sit-down, Heather, who works as a bank teller, walked over to hand something to the loan agent. And this is how he remembers it -- “I looked up from my seat at this vision of pure beauty with the slightest of southern accents and thinking “This woman TOTALLY has a boyfriend. There’s no way you can ask her out. But then she looked at me and smiled a perfect smile beneath some beautiful brown eyes, and I got a little more confidence.”

After handling business, the loan agent shuffles over to Ephraim and tells him, “So her name is Heather Falcon, she’s single, she thinks you’re cute, and she likes flowers.” With that bit of information, he mustered up enough courage to wait in line for a chance to speak to her at the teller window. Once he was able to stop fumbling over his words, he asked her out for coffee, handed her his business card, and within an hour they were texting and had hit it off automatically.

In preparation of the proposal, he found the perfect ring from Gabriel & Co., the HALSEY engagement ring. His reason for choosing this gorgeous vintage-inspired ring – “It has subtle Fleur-de-lis-esque designs on either side of the center stone which I loved. Heather was born in Louisiana, so I liked the connection. We wanted to get a ring that would age well and could be passed down to grandchildren with pride and fond memories. I knew the minute we saw it that it was the one.”

To complete the magical fairytale-like proposal, Ephraim planned to get on one knee in a castle during their graduation trip to Scotland. He knew the Eilean Donan Castle near a town called Dornie in the Highlands of Scotland would be the ideal location to sweep his Queen off her feet. Ephraim made the extra effort to reserve the secret hidden chamber in the castle and arrange for wine and candles to be set up.

The day finally arrived and after admiring all the castle’s rooms, a Scotsman working at the castle escorted them to the front of the secret chamber and pulled back the tapestry curtain which revealed a spiral staircase leading up to the secret chamber filled with romance.

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Wasting No Time at All.

For Ashley, her soulmate was always nearby, even if she wasn’t always looking at him that way. "Andrew and I have known of each other most of our lives,” says Ashley. “We grew up three doors down from one another, but even though I knew who he was, there was enough age gap that we didn’t have classes together in school or even hang around with the same crowd.”

Funny how age differentials minimize as we get older. Suddenly, "Andrew and I hit it off from the start” according to Ashley. “In fact, we were together just three months before we got engaged. I never dreamed such a whirlwind romance would happen to me, but now I cannot imagine our story any other way. Like people say, “When you know, you know.” Ashley and Andrew wanted to get married at The Silos in Bono, Arkansas around Christmastime. Knowing how quickly dates fill for that venue, they visited The Silos to meet with the owner. What Ashley didn’t know, though, “was that Andrew had some tricks up his sleeve; he brought our mothers along to visit the venue, which at first I thought was odd. He had already spoken to the owner about his plans for our visit. After walking over the property, Andrew asked me to take a picture with him. I turned to look at the spot Andrew was pointing toward, and when I turned around he was down on one knee. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I think the words, “What are you doing?” were the first ones out of my mouth, but I quickly squealed, “YES!” two or three times to be sure he knew my answer. Our mothers were not just “tagging along” to look at The Silos, after all. They caught the moment with both video and pictures. Andrew said he couldn’t think of a more meaningful place to propose than where we would be married. It was by far the most shocking, but most exciting moment of my life,"

Ashley joyfully admits that the best was yet to come when she learned more about her engagement ring. "Both my engagement ring and my wedding band are Gabriel & Co. from the Sissy’s Log Cabin Jonesboro location,” she says. “Interestingly, Andrew proposed without us having looked at rings together. He knew I really loved both rose gold and vintage-style jewelry. He picked the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. However, after the shock of the proposal wore off and I looked at the ring more closely, I couldn’t believe what I was staring at. Two days before his proposal, I clicked on a Gabriel & Co. advertisement and found the ring of my dreams on the Gabriel website. It was the exact same ring! At first, Andrew and Ashley couldn’t believe the coincidence, but they also thought, why not, if things are meant to be. Like some people say, “When you know, you know.”

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Driving Down the Road to Happiness.

In Mallory’s words:
“Our very first date was November 11, 2016, though Josh could argue that it could have been sooner, but I ignored his very first message to me nine months earlier on Facebook.”

Josh picked me up that night for a hockey game, and pizza - two things we both love. We sat and talked the whole night, through the game, through pizza and even drove around town for a couple hours afterwards talking about everything. To be honest, I believe in our first two dates he put over 300 miles on his truck just from us driving around the city. We could both tell, neither one of us wanted to get out, because the connection was unavoidable. Right from the beginning, everything was so easy for us. Previous relationships always generate a little caution, but we both knew very early on, there was no one else for us.

Our third date is probably our favorite. He came home early from work since he was leaving for a trip the very next day. I had gotten off work late, however, so we didn't have many options for food but there was no question we had to see each other before he left. Well, we ended up at McDonalds for McFlurries, which Josh totally suffered through just to impress me since he really doesn't like them. Even though we hadn't even kissed, something felt different, different in the best way.

After we finished our ice cream, we drove around town again of course, talking for hours. It must have been after 1am when he dropped me off. Finally, he kissed me, and I knew, that night, that this was it. He was and still is, the sweetest man to me."

"My fiancé, Joshua and I love going for drives around town, it’s what we did our first few dates around our special town. There’s a few spots we always go, and this one area of town has a Gazebo that looks over downtown Fort McMurray, AB (in Canada).

On August 11, 2017, we drove to one of our favorite areas, The Gazebo that overlooks downtown Fort McMurray in Alberta. Josh suggested we get out and walk to the gazebo to see the view. We took a couple photos together and as we were getting ready to leave, I turned around and he was on one knee, looking me in the eyes and asking if we could spend the rest of our lives together! Of course I said yes. I wasn’t ever letting him go, and now this year, on August 11, 2018, we will say “I do!"

Our future shines as bright as the Gabriel ring we picked out. Joshua is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I'm so excited to build my life with him.”

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Testing The Power Of Love To The Max.

There's a moment when you realize the partner you’ve chosen will stand by you through the best and worst of times. That moment gives you the most powerful reason to live, and to be grateful on both the good and bad days. Philip and Sarah have been blessed to share that moment.

"Phil and I met through mutual friends at the beginning of our freshmen year at the University of Iowa in 2006,” Sarah recalls. “He claims he liked me from day one, but it took me a whole year to give him a chance. We even dated other people during that time. In our sophomore year, however, all of our friends moved off campus. Suddenly, we were the only two still living in the dorms, so we started eating meals together and hanging out a lot, and that’s when I started falling for him. When he first kissed me at a friend’s Halloween party, I swore I saw fireworks. I thought the whole fireworks-knees-buckling-tingly-everywhere feeling was something that had been made up for movies. With Phil, I discovered it was real.

By Thanksgiving, we had made our relationship official, when Phil broke the news that, for academic reasons, he would be transferring to Purdue the following semester.  As devastated as we were, we were determined to make this long distance relationship work. It spanned the next seven and a half years, across three different states.

Finally, we finally moved in together in June of 2015. He had a job in engineering and I was teaching. He proposed on New Year’s Eve, 2016. Well, he tried anyway, but Phil couldn’t get me alone outside all night because Illinois winters can be brutal. It actually wasn’t until after it turned into 2017, that Phil took me to the some nearby train tracks, stopped underneath a security camera, to insure his request would be preserved for was for posterity, and asked me to be his forever with a gorgeous Gabriel & Co ring.”

Life however, had yet one more challenge in store for this intrepid couple. This past summer, in July of 2017, Sarah woke up one night with a piercing headache. Over the counter pills didn’t do a thing, so Phil rushed her to the ER, where they did a CT scan and found a large tumor on Sarah’s pituitary gland. The tumor turned out to be Rathke’s Cleft Cyst, which leaked and developed into meningitis. Happily, Sarah’s surgery last September was successful. “I was in the hospital for a week,” Sarah says, “and Phil stuck by me the entire time. And although we won’t be saying our vows until I’m well, Phil has already proven he will walk through life with me in sickness and in health." 

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The Most Perfect Sunrise.

"I knew I loved Derek the moment I held his hand. How on earth did the Lord bring me a man whose hand fits perfectly with mine? What are the odds?”

Derek knew quickly that he wanted to be with Sharlene every day of his life. And Sharlene could hardly wait to spend her life loving him. But Derek was praying to know when the moment was right. Happily, they both got what they wanted, thanks to a little help from their friends and family.

Sharlene admits, "I’d been looking at rings long before fiancé Derek and I ever dated. In fact, I blabbed so much that Derek would sometimes look at another woman’s hand and say, “What kind of ring is that?” and he’d understand every color/cut/clarity/carat size that was described to him. Still, I’m no savant when it comes to diamonds, but Derek knew who to ask someone who was.”

“My mother’s best friend, Phyllis, is the most genuine woman you’ll ever meet, and also pretty intelligent when it comes to rings. Derek went to her to help guide him in the right direction.” Her guidance led them to Jeffrey Scott Fine Jewelers in Amherst, NH.” Derek then invited his mother to look at the Gabriel rings he was considering, and together they picked out a beautiful cushion cut diamond with a cushion halo setting.

When Derek got home, he hid the box for what he later told Sharlene, “felt like years, but was really only days,” right before the couple was about to embark on their annual family trip to the beach. The day before their departure, Sharlene’s parents ‘surprised’ the couple by showing up a day early. Sharlene recalls, “My mom gave me some pseudo-hip excuse that she suffered from FOMO (fear of missing out), so she and my dad had to come visit. What I didn’t know at the time is that Derek had asked my parents to come to the beach early, because he knew I’d want them there for what he was planning. Smart boy.”

Once they got to the beach, Derek woke Sharlene up so that they could watch the sunrise. She literally and figuratively dragged her feet the whole time because it was cold and the hour far too early. However, as soon as the sun appeared on the horizon, Derek called his brother and girlfriend to join them. He wanted them in charge of taking pictures,

“Once they arrived,” says Sharlene, “Derek knelt on one knee, pulled a ring box out of his sleeve and asked me to marry him. It was completely surreal, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. After the initial excitement subsided, Derek told me he had been praying about our engagement, asking the Lord to prepare his heart, and to reveal to him when would be the right time to propose. He got his answer when we woke up to watch the sunrise.” For Sharlene, it couldn’t have been better. “His family was there, my family was there, to join us at the beginning of the happiest day of my life, that has led us into the most blessed life anyone could ask for.”

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Love begins in Bryant park.

Gabriel & Co. claims to "redefine engagement." I'm here to tell you that Gabriel absolutely delivers on that claim. Stephanie and I met 4 years ago in downtown Columbus at an apartment community where the courtyards used New York’s famous Bryant Park as their inspiration.

As a couple, we have been through as much together in 4 years as other couples have been through in a lifetime. But we are good and solid, and we are both grateful for our relationship and never take it for granted. You can't really appreciate something (or someone) until it gets pulled away from you. Thankfully, we have had love and faith to guide us through these multiple difficult situations, and each time we came back closer and stronger.

To us, our engagement is unlike any other engagement. Stephanie and I chose to go with Gabriel for her ring because it their jewelry also bears a distinct quality, unlike anything else we saw. We had a story that was ours alone and we believed the unique Gabriel’s ring we created perfectly symbolized that story.

Even better, Gabriel came through for us big time by not only producing a ring in less than two weeks, but setting the diamond in it as well so that I was able to propose to Stephanie in the real Bryant Park during our visit. Even though it was hundreds of miles away from where we originally met, it felt exactly like the place we first locked eyes on each other.

On any given day, there are roughly 4 million people in Manhattan, but on Friday, September 8th, Gabriel & Co made Stephanie and I feel like we were the only 2 people on the island and for that I will forever be thankful!

Thank you to everyone at Gabriel & Co, but especially Barbara Ryan, for a creating one of a kind experience.

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They're fit for love.

Harmeet & I are from Vancouver, B.C but we’d never met. In 2015, both of our friends and loved ones dared us to make Tinder accounts to explore and make friends. Thanks to our mutual passion for fitness, we crossed paths. Well, it did more than that. It helped us fall in love quickly Harmeet expressed his love within the first couple dates and stated that I would become his wife one day.

I knew this man would do anything in the world to keep me happy. First we worked out together at each other’s gyms, but then he switched to mine even though even though mine 20 minutes away from his home. In the summer time we hike in outdoor parks for our physical activities. We are known as the “the big and little beast”.

Rose gold has been an obsession of mine for all my accessories ever since it’s become more available my vision. I told Harmeet my dream was to make my engagement ring unique, for the diamonds to really stand out from the ring base itself, and for the base to be rose gold. I went into our local jewelers which carried Gabriel & Co. and I selected a white gold base to be remade in in rose gold, which the jeweler said would not be a problem. In addition, I customized all my diamonds. This is process took about 5 months to complete

On the night of September 21, 2017, along the shore of Granville Island in the midst of downtown Vancouver right in front of the famous Telus World of Science globe, Harmeet went down on one knee on the deck of our private yacht and finally popped the question, opening the Gabriel & Co box to reveal our custom made ring; rose gold with a center stone of 3.75 ct. and a total of 5 carat. When I saw it on my ring finger, the sight blew me away. Harmeet had brought the vision of my dream ring into reality. What’s more it’s completely unique and forever mine.

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The Surprise Proposal.

Lena and Adrian met several years ago through a mutual friend and instantly clicked. Here were two people who loved going out and enjoying each other’s company in new and exciting settings, whether it was dining in some of New York’s liveliest restaurants like Buddakan and Tao, strolling along the High Line on a bright, sunny Sunday, or planning vacations that took them to such varied locations as Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, Cancun and LA.

Turns out, trips weren’t the only adventure that Adrian excelled at planning. Starting over a year ago, Adrian and Lena would be out shopping and Adrian would stop at a jewelry store and suggest they go inside, where they’d look at various pieces, musing on what each liked and suited their respective personalities. This went on casually, but persistently, until Adrian had managed to steer Lena into most of the jewelry stores in the New Jersey area where they lived.

Once he was confident that he sensed the kind of ring Lena would love, Adrian embarked on Phase 1. He contacted Mya at Gabriel and explained that he wanted to enlist her time and expertise to create the perfect engagement ring. Mya suggested Adrien first look on the Gabriel website to view Gabriel’s vast range of possibility and then she met him at Gabriel’s handsome New York showroom to zero in on one surefire, unforgettable setting for the perfect emerald cut diamond Adrian decided Lena would most desire. The finished product had Adrian in awe. And now he was ready or Phase 2.

With the ideal ring tucked safely in his backpack, Adrian and Lena headed for another vacation, this time in the Bahamas. At the RIU resort where they were staying, Adrian contacted the management in order to coordinate his proposal as part of the Bahamanian Dance show being presented as that night’s entertainment.

Lena did think it was odd that Adrien had so far carried his knapsack everywhere during their trip, including the nightclub where the dance show was being performed. Twenty minutes into the show, Lena was “randomly” chosen by the emcee to come onstage, and sit in a chair surrounded by the dancers. He then asked to blindfold her. She was hesitant, but Adrien insisted. And then he made his move. As the music started up softly, and the dancers took a step back, the emcee had Lena remove her blindfold, to see Adrien on bended knee in front of her, holding the Gabriel box he had finally been taken out of his knapsack.

Lena will take the story from here:

I had no idea that Adrien had done all this planning and research. It’s just phenomenal that he was able to keep the ring a secret from me. It warms my heart that he put so much thought and energy into getting the perfect ring. I was overjoyed because the ring has everything I wanted. It’s elegant, bold, sophisticated and timelessly beautiful. Every time I look down at it, it takes my breath away. Gabriel provided us with something we will treasure forever. Thank you or making our love dream come true.

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No Arm Wrestling Necessary.

You’ve got to give it up it to the professional arm wrestler who realizes that a nifty surprise with a light touch can win a woman’s hand more gracefully than an expected show of force. Lisa says that her love story with Daniel began "the moment this beautiful man from Ohio walked into the restaurant I was working in and ordered a sweet tea and a seafood platter.

That was 7 years ago, in a small Louisiana town called Boutte. Since then, Lisa says, "we have learned so much from each other. This man has taught me how to become a better person, to be content with myself." Daniel has a unique perspective, due to his unusual prowess. He is a serious competitor in the world of professional arm-wrestling. "We get to travel all over the world in support of his competitive arm-wrestling," says Lisa. "And not only do we enjoy our time together no matter where we go, but Daniel has helped me to love life and live it. But Daniel cannily used his natural showmanship to secure the most important match of his life without ever breaking a sweat or lifting a finger. The stage was set on Lisa’s birthday

She recalls, "Back in January, me and my girlfriends decided on a double birthday lunch with our better halves. When we got to the restaurant (Sobu in New Orleans) our table wasn’t ready, so we were directed to wait in the courtyard. One of my girlfriends decided it was the perfect time to give the birthday girls their gifts, so she handed me a gift-wrapped-box and said, "This is from all us girls." Inside the box, Lisa discovered a YSL clutch. "I got so excited," said Lisa "because I’ve been wanting one for such a long time. But when I opened the clutch and looked inside, there was something even better – a beautiful diamond ring"

Daniel had enlisted all of Lisa’s friends to help conceive the moment – the lunch, the wait, the desired YSL clutch, and the surprise ring tucked inside. Before Lisa could get the ring on, there was Daniel on one knee in front of everyone, but more importantly, in front of her, with Christina Perri’s beautiful love song "A Thousand Years" playing in the background, telling Lisa "I want you to know that you are the most beautiful woman I've ever met as well as the nicest, most generous, sweetest and even the meanest woman, all in one, and I love you for all that you are. That’s why; I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Lisa will you marry me?

"Of course I said ‘Yes!"" says Lisa "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that perfect ring slide onto my finger." OK, so maybe Daniel did have to lift one finger to win. But it was Lisa’s, which means we can declare this a Perfect Match.

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Home run For the Heart.

They weren’t exactly high school sweethearts though they grew up in the same town and went to school together. In fact, Rachael and Jason were members of the same baseball team! “Our Dad’s, who were plant workers, coached us. Our moms worked in the school cafeteria. We practically lived at Amelia Little League Park in Beaumont, Texas.

Rachael says "I was a tomboy and not once was I ever interested in dating Jason or "crushing" on him." After graduation, Jason was drafted to play for the Colorado Rockies team. Rachael went off to nursing school in Texas and then moved to Nashville, Tennessee in her quest to save lives. Years flew by. And then they found each other again six years ago. Where? Why on the ball field, of course. “Our sons were playing baseball against each other in Houston, Texas, when I saw Jason standing by the fence near the dugout. You can’t miss him. He’s 6’4…big ol’ guy!

Both had been through divorces but were raising their children to love baseball just as much as they did. They finally started dating. Though Rachael has been caring for her father, a long term victim of dementia, while welcoming Jason's children into her son and daughter's life, she says "we are very blessed that our families blend well.”

It’s not easy for Rachael to take a break but she did last Christmas for a weekend trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana to be with Jason.

While out holiday shopping, Jason urged Rachael to go sit on the store Santa's knee to tell him her Christmas wish. But as she began to confide in Santa, Jason got down on his knee, and proposed. "We're engaged," exclaims Rachael “It was such a marvelous surprise. Thanks to Gabriel for having creating such a beautiful line of jewelry. I love my ring. Best advice the two of us can offer anyone is to forget about the past and make the best of your future. Communication, honesty and forgiveness is key to a great relationship!” Rachael and Jason have now hit a home run in life in more ways than one. Not only did they finally find each other, both of their boys are now going on to be playing college baseball on scholarship.

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Eat. Pray. Love

It all began in 2014 with an Instagram post of an empty plate at a Thanksgiving Day table. Every year Cassi, a Pre-K teacher in Maryland, lays out an empty place setting for all the brave men and women serving overseas who can’t be home for the holidays.

Cassi was just doing what she could do to acknowledge those who often get forgotten. But thousands of miles away a soldier in Afghanistan named Vincent saw the post and became fascinated to know more about the person who always had a place for men like him at her table. She, in turn, was curious about the service man that was so moved by the gesture.

Their digital connection was instant, as if they were old friends who had known each other for a lifetime.

After months of getting to know each other, they decided to take the leap into the real world and meet for the first time. In exactly seven days both of them knew they were destined to be together . His certainty was so deep that Vincent knew in less than a year that he would follow Cassi anywhere. When he learned that Cassi was planning a trip around Europe, he decided to do just that.

Vincent surprised Cassi by joining her as she at Downhill Beach, Ireland, even more so when he proposed with a Gabriel & Co ring. Vincent heard the magic word right when she took his hand on that cold bright beach and said "Yes", and together they traveled to the back roads of Poland, across natural splendor of Germany and to the handsome cities of the Czech Republic.

All along the way, Vincent took pictures of her leading the way, wanting the world to remember them holding hands as they embraced life's other surprises and uncertainties of a future together.

"Having Vinny in my life means it is always going to be an adventure! He makes me realize that a life without challenges is not what I want. Getting the privilege to marry this man means we will always have the next adventure to plan," said Cassi.

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Lost Engagement Ring

Losing an engagement ring is every woman in love's nightmare.  Sadly, for Ciara, it became her reality.    "I went running one night and when I got home I look down and realized I had lost my rings," she said, "Me and my husband, who recently proposed after returning home from a nine month deployment in Afghanistan, looked everywhere.  I have never prayed over a material object as I did during these two days, because the ring was more than that. It had come from my soulmate. I was heart broken and devastated."  

Spent and exhausted, Ciara posted on every yard-sale website here in Clarksville. Her message was simple. "If there are any good people left in this world, my wedding bands & engagement ring were lost last weekend...Please, please be a good soul and turn it in. I'm hoping it turns up. My husband and I have looked for 2 days now." Ciara also emailed all the local news websites, lost / found pages and soon had hundreds of people sharing her story across social media. 

That same day, a woman in Clarksville found a ring in a parking lot.  Naturally, she didn't know to whom it belonged but she noticed two engravings inside the ring. The first said "Gabriel & Co."   The second engraving was a serial number.   EVERY GABRIEL & CO. ENGAGEMENT RING HAS A UNIQUE SERIAL NUMBER.  NO TWO RINGS ARE ALIKE. Because of what this woman - who prefers to remain anonymous - noticed, this story went from tragedy to triumph.  Knowing our brand, she reached out to Gabriel & Co. to help find the owner. She went directly to our Gabriel & Co. website and through it contacted one of our community managers, who received the message within the hour and immediately enlisted our social media and sales rep teams in order to track down the owner of the ring. The ring was traced to a Rogers & Hollands chain store in Tennessee. One of the store clerks not only recognized the ring immediately, but remembered Ciara and how happy she had been to get it.

By the next morning not only had the ring been safely delivered to the Rogers & Holland store, but Ciara had been notified of its return. For Ciara it was an unforgettable experience. "I had stayed up till 6 am that morning keeping up with social media,' she recalled, "seeing if anyone had heard anything. I finally fell asleep at 10am, awakening to discover I had a missed call on my phone. Little did I know it was my local Jewelry store calling to tell me "Ciara, we have your ring".  I broke down in tears of joy.  I couldn't believe it had been returned! Me and Brandon now joke we already have the best bedtime story to tell our future children,"

Had the ring bore another brand name, it's unlikely Ciara and Brandon would be the bearers of such a happy bedtime story.  Each engagement ring's inscribed individual serial number  is Gabriel & Co's way of helping a couple fulfill the promise of eternal love.   It is a commitment we take seriously. It is a commitment that sets Gabriel & Co. apart from all other creators of bridal jewelry. We couldn't be more proud of this singular reputation.  And we couldn't be more pleased to know that because of our commitment, Ciara will never forget that the return of her ring  was "One of the best days of my life!"

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A Silicon Valley Love Story

For decades Carrie has been an innovator and pioneer in technology. Tony was a powerful and dedicated man in the fray of Silicon Valley’s tech scene. They often traveled in similar social circles, often at the same event, but perhaps too involved in the furthering of their own careers to have met.

However, both of them shared many of the same passions and both had children in their early twenties from previous long-term relationships. They were coming from the similar places in life, so perhaps it was the right time for Carrie and Tony to take a chance on each other.

Like many modern love stories, it was a different aspect of technology that helped bridge that gap. "We actually met on Match.com but were living only about 2 miles apart. I'm not sure we would have ever met otherwise," said Carrie. "It was instant attraction and admiration". After only 6 months, they were spending all our free time together.

Tony decided he was going to sweep her off her feet while working and traveling.

"Last year, we went to Europe," said Carrie. "We were able to work there and also take vacation time. On our trip to Venice, Tony asked me to marry him. I had a specific vision in mind for my ring. and Tony wanted me to have exactly what I wanted. When we got back home, we started our search for my ring. After many months of looking, we found both the stone and the setting in the same weekend, but at different places."

Carrie and Tony found Gabriel & Co. after an extensive search for the perfect setting. Instead of a diamond Carrie chose a large Portuguese cut sapphire. Tony is a Portuguese developer after all, so it only seemed fitting. Tony is from the country of Portugal and is a software developer. They chose a sapphire that is called a Portuguese Cut Sapphire. It matches up nicely. They intend to keep it in the family forever as proof that love happens, even when it takes it time.

"For both of us, we pinch each other every day because we cannot believe how perfect we are for each other,” says Carrie. “We are more in love every day and when we are apart we cannot wait to be back together. Others may think this is strange or corny. Maybe before I met Tony, I would have thought so too. But now I believe that if you don’t feel this way, maybe you haven't found your perfect match. I know I have!"

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A Family Affair

Jon & Natalie their romance didn’t start with a bang or a flash. It began with friendly smiles and a whisper of possibility.

“When Jon and I first met it took him weeks to even say “Hi” to me but once he finally did, we hit it off immediately,” said Jon. Jon knew Natalie extremely well but wasn’t sure about her taste in engagement rings. Jon is a perfectionist in the best way possible. He is also very close with his family and included them in his plans.

“We had been dating for quite a while when his brother approached me and told me that he was planning to surprise his wife with a new ring for their anniversary but had no idea what kind of ring she wanted. He asked me to help him out in finding the perfect ring,” she said.

Together they did a little digging on Pinterest to get some ideas for his wife’s gift. She wasn’t suspicious but it did strike her as a little odd that he was so confident in her opinion.

“Every time I brought him suggestions, he would ask what I liked best. He insisted that I would know better than he would, which ring to go with. I was really hesitant about giving my opinion because what I loved might not be what she loved, but he was very reassuring when I offered my insight. We picked out every detail together from the cut and size of the center stone to the gorgeous classic setting it would be placed it. When I saw the finished product, it took my breath away. I have to admit I was little jealous because the ring was pretty much my dream ring that I had helped him create,” she said.

It isn’t hard to imagine what happened next. For Natalie it was like a dream, one that seemed to be taking a lot longer to be realized than she thought. She really wanted to see her sister-in-law get that ring and make sure she got it right.

“Two months went by and he still hadn't given her the ring when his family planned a camping trip out of town. I just knew this would be when he did it because he rarely took time off work to go on trips and with the whole family gathered, it would be the perfect opportunity,” said Natalie. “On Saturday during our trip my boyfriend told me he wanted to go hiking. I was a little irritated, he wanted to go off on this hike and pull me away because I was worried I would miss the special moment but he insisted that we go. We found a beautiful trail and after hiking for a few minutes we climbed a rock that looked out over the whole mountain. When we got to the top Jon pulled out a book and handed it to me. It was blank inside except for a note he had written saying, "This is the story we will write together for the rest of our lives." I thought it was such a beautiful gesture and started to hug him when all of a sudden he dropped to one knee and pulled out THE RING I had created and asked me to spend forever with him.”

Natalie was in the best kind of shock. She said, “Wait, what?" out loud multiple times as Jon explained that she had been designing her own ring. He knew the best way was for her to make it and think it was for someone else. That way he could give her exactly what she wanted, which is what he hoped to do for the rest of his life. “When I realized he was serious I immediately began crying. I think I said yes at some point. The ring is my dream ring from Gabriel & Co. and I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful symbol of love,” said Natalie.

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Her All-Embracing Heart

My mom is the most loving woman I have ever met. She is a NICU nurse in Portland Oregon. If you are unsure what this is, this is the locked unit where babies (ranging anywhere from 20 weeks to birth) go when they need critical care and would not survive without.

Although this floor has many sad moments, she focuses on the good and has been a NICU nurse for nearly 30 years now.

I was given the opportunity to go visit her on her floor during my nurse training at the hospital. Seeing all she does amazed me. She is so incredibly smart, yet I never see her talk down to people in any part of her life. Some of these babies can fit into the palm of your hand, and she's been able to care for them so they can get strong and healthy enough to go home with their parents.

She surprises me every day with her unconditional love. There was a very young baby who was abandoned on her floor after the parents were taken away. My mother, not wanting this baby to be given to the state, fostered her! This baby had many medical issues, and they did not stop my mom.

My mother is never one who doesn't stop by a scene of an accident, who doesn't stand up for those who can't, and she never has made me feel anything but loved.

On top of all the amazing things she does, she raised me and my 3 younger brothers. Helping put us through school, working nights and over time to afford taking care of us, helping me with my wedding coming up this fall (yes my honey chose a Gabriel ring for me! He has great taste!). She always made sure our needs were met, and also tried meeting our wants. She did not have anyone helping her. She has not bought herself nice jewelry because she puts her family before her own wants.

She has inspired me to be the best person I can, and I have followed in her footsteps to be a nurse. If everyone had even a tenth of the love my mom does for others, the world would be a better place. She is always putting her needs behind the needs of others, and that is why I believe she is deserving of this.

It's hard to describe why my mother is the best person I know in just a few short paragraphs: but if you were to talk to her for just a few short minutes, you would see she radiates love and selflessness. Thank you for taking the time to read this and allow me to enter my mom into this contest of love.

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The Greatest Gift

The year is 1995 and I am lonely. I’m not completely alone, though. I’m surrounded by caregivers. And there are other babies who are also lonely. The year is 1995 and I am waiting. I’m not completely sure who I am waiting for, though. I’m surrounded by caregivers. And there are other babies who are also waiting. My mother always wanted children of her own, but tried for years with no luck. One evening, as she was watching the nightly news, something happened. Blurred images race across the screen. My mother and father’s hearts are torn as they See children crying. See two or three crammed to a crib. See diapers that have gone unchanged. See the utter despair China is going through. See children’s hair buzzed right down to the scalp. See pain, grief, misery, and lack of love. The only thing that is left unseen is each precious child’s Future.

My father sits silently as quiet yet powerful tears begin to swell in his eyes. As their hands lay entwined tears form trails down my mother’s cheeks. A mother crying for the children of millions of mothers who too have shed many tears. A mother crying for a child to call her own. A mother crying for the silent Mothers of China unable to weep for their lost children.

Adoption was written in the stars for my mother.

The year is 1995 and she is waiting patiently. She is unsure who she is waiting patiently for, though. She is surrounded by love. And there is a new hope for a baby who is also waiting.

April 28, 1996 I was adopted. I don’t remember exactly what happened on that day, for I was only seven months old. But my mom tells me that it was one of the happiest days of her life. I consider myself beyond blessed. The love that my mother and I share is so special to me.

I often think to myself and ask, “How did I get so lucky?” A mother who traveled halfway around the globe for me. A mother who sacrificed so much to have me.

A couple years ago, I asked my mother if she ever felt sad about not having her own children. Had she ever looked at other mothers with children who resembled them and felt a sense of emptiness inside? Was that feeling something that she longed for but could not have? She looked at me, her eyes gazing into mine and said, “You are the greatest gift a mother could ever ask for. You are my daughter, and you will always be mine. Never once have I wished anything different.”

Our love story is unlike any other. My mother and I were meant for each other, before either of us knew it. I am unconditionally loved by the greatest woman in my life. And for that, I thank her. I thank her not only on her one special day in May, but I thank her every day for being my mother.

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An Unexpected Passion

When I think about the true American love story I immediately think of a romantic tale of two people falling in love (let’s just say by fate, for excitement) and living happily ever after. After all, that’s what most hope for in life - to fall in love, to love, and to be loved. But love comes in many shape and forms; sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not... And as I grew as an individual I learned more about this. Sometimes it’s comes in the form of a smile, a huge, or it’s something that’s verbally said. Sometimes nothing is said at all. Sometimes it’s a love for someone - other times it’s a love for something. My story is about a love for something and by someone very dear to me, my mother. I am proud to be my mother’s daughter and proud to be part of her love story.

It isn’t a story about how she met my father, or fell in love with my now stepfather, or a story of her love for her two daughters, or her 10-month old granddaughter; though these would all be great stories to tell. It’s a story of true passion, real obstacles, overwhelming braveness, and the love and admiration I have for my mother because of all she has overcome and accomplished in her life.

My mother is everything you want a mother to be - and some more. When I was younger I always wanted to be just like her. She was hardworking, independent, and always truly dedicated to her work. She worked for 20 years as a registered medical assistant helping to save lives, and being involved in those lives. She was always so caring and had a special place in her heart for her patients.

She faced many challenging, personal obstacles throughout her life; she lost her sister when she was very young, divorced my father when I was young, lost her mother in 2011, lost her healthcare job after 20 years, and lost her furry best friend this year, our family dog Bentley. And although she faces these obstacles and challenges, like many people do, she always kept it together and more importantly, us together.

In 2014, my mother fell in love - again. But this time, it wasn’t a love for someone; it was a love for something. With increasing enthusiasm, endless inspiration, and an enormous amount of determination, my mother made a life-changing career switch and Shore Luv Travel, an independent travel agency, was born. Becoming your own boss and starting a business from the ground-up is definitely not easy. It’s take a special type of person to be able to put in the time and effort, and be brave enough to start something completely new that you know is going to be a challenge. I never saw her more motivated and inspired to make this change.

From the day she told me she was going to become a travel agent and forward, this business has been her love (and we’re all just chopped liver now!). Her clients have been her priority and her focus has been on making sure their happy. From working long days to late nights, to working on the holidays and taking client calls the day of my sister’s wedding, she is truly dedicated to this. She took a chance, something that could have been a financial risk, and proved that you can “make it happen.” Sure her hard work and dedication played a huge role in the success of her career-change, but what I learned through this experience is that it ultimately stems from the love she has for her work.

The funny thing about love is that doesn’t always have to be what we know it to be and this couldn’t be clearer to me.

Now that I am older, I still want to be like my mother. I hope that I teach all my future children all of the valuable lessons she has taught me over the years. I hope that I can prove points to them like how she proved to me that love really does come in many different shapes and forms.

My mom now has what she always wanted. She has her family and her business to love. This is her happily ever after. This is her love story.

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