Whether you’re looking to design an engagement ring with your partner, or just want to splurge on a special item of jewelry that no one else will have, here’s what you need to know before you commit!
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their betrothal last year, the much-admired custom engagement ring was designed by Harry and crafted by royal jeweler Cleave and Company. Made with yellow gold — which Harry revealed as Markle’s favourite during the couple’s joint BBC interview — the ring showcases a diamond that the prince sourced from Botswana, where they traveled together early on in their relationship, flanked by two smaller diamonds that once belonged to Princess Diana. Full of sentimental value and yet appropriate for Markle’s modern aesthetic, the ring is a textbook example for the enduring appeal of custom-designed jewelry.
What is the difference between personalized and bespoke jewelry?
Bespoke, or custom, jewelry will be unique, as the made-to-order piece is created to your individual specifications. Personalization, which is more affordable and less time-consuming, generally refers to ready-made styles that can be modified in different colour or design combinations, or perhaps monogrammed.
Find a jeweler or metalsmith whose work you love
There are amazing independent jewelers in almost every city, and each specializes in different materials and aesthetics. Peruse websites and Instagram for suggestions, and don’t hesitate to ask your friends and co-workers whose gems you admire for referrals. Also, keep in mind that bespoke costume jewelry can be just as fun to design and wear as a (much pricier!) piece of fine jewelry.
Go for consults!
With such a personal, pricey investment, there’s no harm in visiting boutiques, showrooms and studios in person before you decide on a jeweler. Whether you want to have something fantastic created from your imagination, or are happier making minor tweaks to a designer’s pre-existing style, it’s a collaborative process and you want to work with someone whom you like, and can trust.
Know your metals and stones
Once you have decided on a jewelry design, the next step is to decide on metals, and whether you plan to include precious or semi-precious gemstones. Factors like budget, fashion trends, and colour preferences will play an outsized role, but listen to your jeweler’s advice and suggestions, too. For example, ruby and sapphire are much harder and more durable gemstones than opal and quartz, and therefore better candidates for rings and bracelets, which are more likely to get scratched up or damaged through wear.
Ask about models, fittings, and alterations
A few companies made all their jewelry onsite, whereas the rest sub-contract out or even have the metalwork done by skilled craftsmen overseas. Confirm the process, and timeline, for your design and whether you’ll be able to see the piece in progress or make any small tweaks once it’s done. Some jewelers will even be able to create replicas or models of your specific design for you to sign off on in advance!