How to shop for a bespoke wedding ring
27 Jun 2016
Find the perfect match with wedding ring tips from jewellery designer, Gee Woods
London jewellery designer Gee Woods has seen an increased demand for one-of-a-kind rings this year, with bespoke commissions already doubled - compared to 2015. With bespoke booming, why are customers choosing to create their own ring?
Gee says: “I’m finding more and more customers coming to me looking for that one-off, special ring as they want to create something that has meaning to them and a lovely story or sentiment attached to it. They love being involved in the whole process from start to finish and can leave with a piece of jewellery that can be cherished forever.”
Here are Gee's top tips on how to buy a bespoke ring:
BUDGET: Firstly, decide on how much you want to spend. It’s always best to come with a fixed budget in mind as this allows the jeweller to provide you with more accurate information. There is no point in the client having a dream which isn’t achievable. But on the flip side, it’s my job to try and suggest other more affordable ideas to help create that dream ring!
Find a jeweller that can source gemstones to suit any budget and make sure they have experience of working with a variety of different stones and cuts. There’s a misconception that bespoke must mean hugely expensive, but that’s just not true. Often, a bespoke piece can be more affordable than one might imagine. For example, my prices can start from £500 and I make sure that I design the piece, source the stones or rework an existing piece of jewellery around your budget.
THE BRIEF: Start early and have an initial phone conversation with the jeweller to discuss what you have in mind and to go through the brief, e.g. do you want to create the ring from scratch or perhaps you have an old unloved family heirloom from granny that’s been kicking around for years that you want to re-work. Remember, the process of making a ring can take weeks, sometimes months.
MEET FACE TO FACE: It's then important for the client and the jeweller to meet in person. This is the fun part where you start putting some ideas and sketches down and go through them. This is the opportunity to talk about your style, likes and dislikes, job, inspiration etc. so that everything comes back to the ring. You’ll be wearing the ring every day so it has to work with your lifestyle and be practical, not just look pretty.
WHAT IF IT’S A SURPISE GIFT: Sometimes I only meet the man as he wants to create a surprise engagement ring to pop the question! I usually meet at my workshop or in a coffee shop and we discuss budget, ideas, his girlfriend’s style, what jewellery she wears, what’s in her wardrobe etc. to gather together a full picture of her. It’s really useful if they bring a photo of her as I can then gauge her ring size and also take a cue from her existing jewellery and style.
If possible, take a ring she already owns (ring finger) as the jeweller can then get the exact size and if they can be trusted, I suggest that the guy speaks to her friends and family to get an insight... but swear them to secrecy! Some male customers don’t know what they want, so it’s a case of narrowing down the options and working backwards from something he/she wouldn’t like.
WHAT STONE SHOULD I CHOOSE: There is an assumption that an engagement ring has to be a diamond, however there are so many other fantastic options. Large diamonds, particularly good quality ones, are beautiful but expensive, so think about substituting a central diamond for a beautiful deep blue sapphire or blue/green aquamarine. You can save yourself thousands of pounds and make a much more interesting ring. Plus, bespoke coloured stone cuts are getting more and more popular and are also gaining in value so can be a worthwhile investment.
On a practical level, you need to think about wear and tear. It’s likely that you are going to be wearing your ring every day so stick to a hard stone. Diamonds are hard, but emeralds - for example - aren’t anywhere near as durable. I generally advise people to stay away from emeralds as an everyday ring wherever possible, as although extremely beautiful, they don’t take well to being knocked about and can be brittle. If you love that vibrant green hue, why not choose tsavorites instead? They are a beautiful rich green and are more hard wearing and affordable. Rubies and sapphires are corundum stones so are very hard (second only to diamonds) - also a good choice.
If you want colour pops, go for sapphires as they come in a variety of shades and I’m also finding that aquamarines are becoming more popular. A big hit this year has been yellow diamonds and sapphires which, when combined with yellow gold, can look stunning.
WHAT STYLE SHOULD I CHOOSE: Think about what styles you like, flick through magazines for inspiration, research online, window shop. I’ve even had clients come to me who have visited an exhibition or festival that has inspired their ring! Think about whether you prefer minimalist and modern, traditional, art deco inspired, vibrant colours or subtle stones, yellow gold, white or two-tone etc. All of these things should be considered when you sit down with your jeweller. It’s your design and your ring that you will be wearing at the end of the day, so you need to feel 100% happy with how the process is going.
- Generally, if you have short and wider fingers, then a slim band with a large head that goes up and down the finger is usually a winner.
- If you have long slim fingers, chunkier bands look great and will fit the hand better.
- Be wary of rings that are too tight – remember that your fingers can change size. It never looks good when flesh bulges over the side, so always go slightly bigger than too small.
- Be creative and have fun! Your bespoke ring should be an extension of who you are and the colours and style you love, not just what everyone else has.