Gold snowdrops, black diamonds or sapphire-encrusted skulls – not usually what you’d imagine when you think of an engagement ring.
Yet more and more people are opting for unusual engagement and wedding rings, many of them customised or bespoke, preferring a unique and personal take that helps them to tell their story in a piece that will eventually become a family heirloom. Since training up as a goldsmith and starting my jewellery business, Becky Potter Jewellery, I’ve worked with many couples who want to encapsulate the joy of their wedding day and future lives together in a single piece of jewellery. So – a pretty big order! And, of course, as an engagement and wedding ring are two pieces of jewellery you’re going to wear for a very long time, it’s important to get it right.
But how to get a one-off if you have no idea what you want, you’re on a budget or are suffering from bling fatigue after looking at hundreds of rings?
Despite what you might think, bespoke can work for you even if you have little idea about what you want initially. One of the big advantages of working directly with a jeweller is that they aren’t salespeople in a big shiny shop full of identikit rings. They know the materials inside-out and can help you to tell your story, as well as advising on the practicalities of the metals and stones you want.
Not a lot of jewellery shops carry stock that is more unusual – it’s one of the reasons I’m making so many rose gold rings at the moment – a bespoke jeweller can be a lot more flexible and offer options that you might not get on the high street. And you have the peace of mind that your money is going directly to an artisan rather than to cover overheads in a shop.
Many jewellers, if they don’t already work with them, are happy to offer to source fair-trade stones and gold, as well as recycled silver. You may have to pay a small premium but most jewellery shops – especially high-street stores – can’t guarantee the eco-credentials of their materials, so if this is important to you, it’s worth bearing in mind when you chat to your jeweller.
Service is another area where you can expect more for your money when you work with a jeweller. I always keep my clients updated with pictures of their pieces (even when they look grubby and fire-stained on my bench – it’s all a part of their story!), and sometimes just drop them a line to say it’s all going as expected. Even if you prefer to be hands-off during the process, it’s always reassuring to hear that things are on track.
And if you’re planning on getting your or your partner’s engagement ring made and aren’t sure where to start, never fear! Find a jeweller whose style is similar to your other half’s and who you feel comfortable working with to create the ring.
My now-husband, Dom, had a bit of a panic when he was looking for my engagement ring. In his mind’s eye, he had an idea that my engagement ring should somehow feature snowdrops, my favourite flower. After scouring internet shops and Googling for hours on end, he finally came across something that looked vaguely like what he wanted. However, this designer had snowdrop designs on a necklace, but not incorporated into a ring. Undeterred, Dom contacted them to ask whether they could put the snowdrops onto a ring, and somehow include a small diamond. Luckily the jeweller was great, invited him into the workshop to chat about the design and came up with the ring I’m now wearing alongside my wedding band.
So, what should you expect when you want to get a bespoke piece made?
There are two main ways of ordering bespoke: either approach a jeweller who only makes bespoke rings, or look for a jewellery designer whose designs you like, and find out if they do bespoke. With the latter option, you can either go fully bespoke or ask whether you can customise one of their designs. For instance, you could add extra stones to a plain ring, have it engraved on the outside or add other special details to make it unique. This can be the most cost-effective way of having a unique ring, and often, the process of customising it can be less daunting as you already have a basic design to work with!
A few things to agree upfront with your jeweller are your budget, the timescale and the details of the design, including the materials that are going to be used. Different designers will have different ways of working, and they’ll outline the process for you in more detail.
It seems that increasingly, couples are finding that getting a ring made bespoke is a much better way of spending their money than going to a shop, and it’s a fun and exciting experience to go through together!
If you’d like to find out more about Becky, and her beautiful designs, then I would urge you to take a look on her website or follow her on Twitter for the most recent updates and news!