Poulsbo man travels nation for engagement ring elements

Buying an engagement ring is a big step in a relationship, but Christian Liden, 26, of Poulsbo is going the extra mile, literally, to build the perfect engagement ring for his bride-to-be.

Liden grew up locally, graduating from North Kitsap High School in 2013. He works as an operator at his family’s business Liden Land Development and Excavation.

Liden and his girlfriend, Desirae Klokkevold, have been dating for five years and had talked about marriage. But Liden, a self-proclaimed “rock hound,” has been planning this proposal, or at least the ring, since middle school, where he came up with the idea of sourcing the materials for an engagement ring.

“I’ve been a bit of a rock hound my whole life,” he said. “My thought was why would I need to go and buy it when I could go out and find it? Just to be different you know, to have a different story was the whole reason behind it,” Liden said.

So this year, Liden and his best friend from middle school Josh Tucker, set out for Yellowstone and other parts of the U.S. to do some gem hunting.

“I started doing a little bit of gold panning here in Washington state years and years ago … and then on our way to Arkansas, we stopped in Montana and looked for sapphires for a couple of days, and then from there, we drove straight to Arkansas to look for diamonds. We left Arkansas and drove up into Nevada and then we went to a ‘U-Dig’ opal mine for a few days,” he said.

Engagement rings are not cheap, but Liden did not even consider the cost compared with the expense of a cross-country trip. “I actually don’t know a whole lot about what it would cost to buy a ring outright. I didn’t ever really look into that. I’m sure I’ve ended up spending more than I would have if I had bought a ring,” he said. “But the difference for me is that a whole lot of the money I spent is in stuff that I’m going to use for a long time.”

While Liden’s original plan was to have the ring built by a professional jeweler, his trip had drawn enough attention that he knew that when he got back to Poulsbo he would have to propose. “The whole trip was she thought we were just spending most of our time in Yellowstone. She didn’t know we were out gem hunting at all. It was a big secret,” he said. “My original intent was to go and find these gems, bring them home, and then have the ring built to propose to her with.

“I ended up proposing to her with the diamond, and I had bought a temporary ring in Nevada on our way through because I knew that I would have to propose when I got back otherwise she was going to find everything out.”

Liden’s cross country gem hunt caught so much attention when he found the second-largest ever found at Diamond State Park in Arkansas – 2.2-carat yellow diamond. The largest ever found there was a 4.5-carat yellow diamond back in October of 2020.

Liden has had few offers from regional jewelers to build the ring and is working with them on ideal designs. “We’ve been contacted by a few different builders who are interested in building it. We’ve talked to them but haven’t picked one yet to actually design it for us,” Liden said.

Despite the ring not being complete, Desirae said yes, though she did not want to talk for this story. The couple is planning to tie the knot in the next few years.

The happy couple Desirae Klokkevold and Christian Liden camping in 2017. (Courtesy Photo)