Are you considering having a piece of bespoke jewellery made to give to someone special or celebrate a special occasion?
Have you considered exactly what it is that you’re after or are you just going to ask for a silver ring and mention your budget of £150?
“But that’s what I’m after,” I hear you say. Well, that silver ring has a huge variety of forms it could take from a creative jewellers perspective. Do you want a plain silver band? Or perhaps a cocktail ring set with many gemstones? Maybe even an engagement ring with a beautiful diamond? Suddenly, your request for a “silver ring” is a lot more complex if you’re going to end up with a piece you love! I get it, I know it’s difficult to convey what you’re looking for. I know from my experience in University that you can give the same brief to 6 people in the class and each and every single one of them will create something entirely different.
So, we’re going to need a lot more information here to get started.
Firstly, it’s hard to know what you need to know before you approach a jeweller to ask for something bespoke. Maybe you didn’t even know that commissioning a piece of jewellery was possible. Maybe you had to search far and wide using a search engine online to find a jeweller that was close enough to you so that you could arrange a visit and have a chat.
I’m here to offer up some help and advice so that you’ll feel more prepared and ready for when that exciting time comes to bring an idea to life!
Do Your Research
It’s important that you pick the right jeweller for you and what you’d like created. Many jewellers take on commissions based on their own collections and design style, whilst some others may only work on commissions, or produce a variety of styles.
One thing you need to know is that there is a huge variety of skills in the jewellery industry. Depending upon their experience, the bespoke piece you’re after might not be completely within the skill set of the jeweller that you ask. Usually this isn’t an issue; jewellers are well-connected people and many will outsource other skills required to make your vision a reality. Personally, integrity is highly important to me as an artist. If I feel that if the commission isn’t right for me, I’ll be able to find you someone who’s right for the job and whose style it may be more suited towards.
The best way to find out if a jeweller is right for you is to have a look at their website. Do you like their style? Have a look at the collections they have because many jewellers have a signature style and this is what makes them stand out. They might have a page or portfolio you can view which shows all their commission pieces.
If you’re really stuck and like their style but can’t see any commission pieces in their portfolio, it’s worth asking the jeweller if they could create what you’re after. They may not have a huge portfolio to showcase, but might still accept bespoke work.
You’ll need to do more research first before reaching out so that they have a clearer idea of the design you have in mind.
Do More Research
Okay, so you like their style and think they could be the jeweller for you. Now what?
Top tip! Don’t ask vague questions. This doesn’t help anyone. As I mentioned before, if you approach a jeweller and ask them to create a silver ring for £150, the results could vary hugely. We’re going to need a lot more information. You’re asking us to create something bespoke, one-off, special: just for you or your loved one. Doesn’t that require a lot more thought if it’s going to be personal and meaningful?
Common questions you should be prepared to answer are:
- Who’s it for?
- What’s the occasion?
- When is it needed for?
- What’s your budget?
- What item would you like created?
- If it’s a ring, what’s their ring size?
- What materials would you like it to be made from? Metals? Gemstones?
- What kind of design are you after?
- Is there anything you’d like to capture in this piece of jewellery? A place name? Date? Memory? Other?
Those are a lot of questions, I know; but it’s just the beginning and we’re already starting to get a much clearer idea of what your vision is and how we could make it a reality. I bet you have more clarity now too. Maybe you’ve had a vision that wasn’t there before? Maybe you’re feeling inspired?
How to communicate your vision
So, relax: we’re not going to ask you to draw what you have in mind.
However, if drawing is your thing, go for it! No one is going to judge your drawing skills here. Many jewellers didn’t go to art school and if they did, I bet many of them wouldn’t compare themselves to Picasso!
Otherwise, get yourself on Pinterest and create a board full of ideas. Maybe the person you’re creating this gift for has a board already full of ideas for their perfect jewellery piece!
If you don’t have Pinterest, look through magazines and cut out images of things you like. It doesn’t have to be jewellery; you might see shapes, colours, patterns or even textures you find interesting!
It’s fine to supply images as a starting point for design inspiration. But, please don’t ask the designer to re-create someone else’s design for less money, because a) it’s illegal and b) the designer won’t feel great about their skills being undervalued, which they’ve spent years developing. It’s not a good idea for you either: chances are the company that designed those pieces are already the cheaper option anyway, because the item’s already made. Secondly, it’ll be much cheaper quality than having a bespoke, one-off piece commissioned.
Be Realistic About Your Expectations
What do you hope to achieve with your budget? Really consider the types of materials you’d like something made from. Obviously silver is going to be much cheaper than gold, and 18ct gold will be more expensive than 9ct gold. Some metals will be softer than others, making them scratch more easily. Even considering whether the person wearing it has an allergy is important as many people can be allergic to the elements that make up these metals.
Gemstones also play a huge role in determining the price. These vary in terms of colour, cut, clarity and carat, usually referred to as ‘the 4 Cs.’ These factors can determine the price of any gemstone so it’s good to remember that a small gemstone that’s excellent quality might cost more than a larger gem which is poor quality.
Gems also vary in rarity too, which will increase the price even more. It’s important to choose the right gemstone for your design, more so if it is a piece that’ll be worn everyday. Another factor you may not have thought of is that gemstones vary in hardness so your choice can play a practical part in your design, ensuring that the piece will last for as long as possible.
These are things your chosen jeweller should be able to help you discover to determine which materials are right for the piece you’re creating. But it’s still good to have an idea about the type of metal you’ll choose and gemstone (if any), as these material costs will affect the price. My advice would be that if price is really a driving factor then you may find that your best option is to buy something off the shelf. However, commissioning jewellery is probably not as expensive as you may think; it just depends on your expectations.
A note on timelines: Having something well-crafted and made to last —that truly expresses yourself and tells your story —is an enjoyable experience, even more so if you allow enough time for the process. Some jewellers may take anywhere between 4-8 weeks to create something, depending upon the design.
There’s something really special about having something bespoke created, being involved in the process and seeing your idea coming magically to life.
If you’ve done your research, have some inspiration and would like to discuss your ideas for your own bespoke piece, please get in touch at email@example.com to receive a quick initial questionnaire and I’ll be happy to help you bring your ideas to life.