PARK SLOPE — Like a diamond miner, Molly Clarke is on the hunt for something precious, but in her case it's a magic moment, not a gemstone.
Clarke runs a business called the Ring Liaison, a personal consultation service for which she charges a $500 flat fee to find the perfect engagement ring for your beloved.
Clarke, a romantic at heart, says she's saddened by stories of couples trudging to a jewelry store to shop for engagement rings together — it saps all the surprise out of one of life's big events. Her mission is to help clients find a ring that will give their partner a happy shock when they pop the question.
Clarke, a certified gemologist who previously worked as a buyer at a Diamond District wholesaler, started the service three years ago and has helped dozens of men put a ring on it, as Beyoncé would say.
Now she's looking to expand into the growing same-sex marriage sector. This Saturday she'll have a booth set up at the Brooklyn Pride festival on Fifth Avenue, where she's hoping to connect with couples in need of a betrothal band.
"It's this enormous purchase that's both emotional and expensive," Clarke, 31, said. "I want to help everybody in the couple be happier. Significant others usually give clues [about what kind of ring they want]. Then you have to go out and hunt and forage and bring back something amazing."
Clarke interviews clients to get a sense of their partner's tastes, and sometimes scrutinizes photos of their beloved's wardrobe and existing jewelry for ideas about what type of ring would suit them. Then she and the client visit jewelers to look at loose diamonds and gemstones. After they find a rock that rocks, Clarke helps the client select a setting to make it sing.
A lifelong Park Slope resident, Clarke was married in her backyard just over a year ago to a guy who was her neighbor growing up. Like legions of New Yorkers before him, her husband chose a diamond from Tiffany's. Clarke says some people assume they have to spend two month's salary on a ring — the amount suggested by diamond giants like De Beers — but Clarke says she can help clients find a beautiful piece for less money.
She's also sensitive to the needs of people who want a ring with a wow factor. One client's top priority was to get his girlfriend a jumbo diamond that would impress her female officemates.
But to Clarke the important thing is to find a ring that will floor the fiancée both during the proposal and for years to come.
"I can't think of any piece of jewelry that's as emotionally invested as an engagement ring," Clarke said. "It's something you wear for the rest of your life. It's there for special moments, when you have kids, when you have fights. As you wear it longer and longer, it's almost like a keepsake box where you put your emotions and experience. The moment you give it is a promise, and the meaning of it grows the longer you have it, which I think is beautiful."
Clarke's Ring Liaison booth will be on Fifth Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets during the Brooklyn Pride festival on Saturday. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. followed by a 7:30 p.m. parade from Sterling Place to Ninth Street.