After winning season 30 of The Amazing Race, Jess Graf and Cody Nickson are now sprinting toward the next significant milestone in their relationship: marriage.
The Big Brother couple got engaged last month atop L.A.’s famed Runyon Canyon, the bookend to a long-but-meaningful design process for Nickson and jeweler Joey Hamra. “What a lot of people don’t know is that I told producers of The Amazing Race that I wanted to ask her to marry me in one of the iconic cities we traveled to,” Nickson tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “But since I didn’t even have a ring, I backed out of that plan. The second the show was done filming, I searched and searched and found the perfect private jeweler.”
Hamra, the owner of Hamra Diamonds in New York City, has worked on several celebrity pieces including Caroline Wozniacki’s ring from David Lee. “The ring was very specific and unique to what Jess told Cody she wanted,” the jeweler adds. “It’s a 2.42-carat, fancy, yellow, pear-shape diamond.”
Nickson and Graf met in June 2017 on the closed set of the CBS reality program. The two have been inseparable ever since. “It’s difficult to hide anything from Jessica because we are with each other every waking moment of the day. We also know when there is one thing off about each other’s day,” the former U.S. Marine muses. “I actually received the ring from Joey that morning, and Jessica decided to take a walk up Runyon—which is normal because we live at its foot… I told her I was going to wait at the apartment, but instead, I went sprinting up the side parallel streets and up the canyon to get ahead of her.”
He proudly adds, “Once she reached the top… surprise.”
“I was honestly so shocked to see him on the top of Runyon,” Graf interjects. “It was very funny because I’ve been daydreaming about this moment, and never have I imagined that I would forget to even look at the ring.” Indeed, she was so swept up in the moment that she said yes even before noticing the jewel. “Once I saw it, I fell in love with it… Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I would own a diamond this size.”
Hamra, from his expertise, adds: “Have you ever seen anyone with a fancy, yellow, pear-shaped diamond? That’s why its so unique… I’d say a bride who is a trendsetter would totally love this look.”
“The building of the ring came one piece at a time,” admits Nickson of the process. “They developed with hints from Jessica and her friends, so each time I ended up with something glaringly obvious—whether it be ring size, what kind of cut she wanted, what kind of band she wanted—I would communicate that information to Joey. He worked so patiently with me… Now I can always look at that ring and see something that I made—and she loves.”
And now, while wedding planning, the pair went ahead with a preliminary step highly recommended to newly-engaged couples: Taking The Knot’s Style Quiz to secure the wedding vision. “I asked Cody to take the quiz and he actually got ‘Bohemian with a bit of Simple and a touch of Elegant.’ Very funny!” Graf says. “I got, ‘Romantic with a bit of Elegant and a touch of Natural.’”
“I’d say it hit the nail on the head,” the bride-to-be muses. “We want the wedding to be very white and have exposed wood with banquet style tables. The ceremony and reception will look very elegant, but we’re looking for fun things to bring into the wedding to make it upbeat and fun. I have a few ideas up my sleeve… I basically want it to look very classy but we want everyone to party like it’s 1985!”
Take The Knot Style Quiz here to determine your wedding vision.