The Perfect Wedding Rings – Our Top Tips On Commissioning:
As many of you will know, I recently got married! What an amazing day it was, all the planning and hard work was sure worthwhile and it simply was (as ‘they’ say) the best day of my life! I wanted to share some photos with my readers to show how my husband and I chose to do the big day, because really I’m proud of ‘us’ *gush*. It also feels like the perfect time to follow my previously popular post on Mastering The Perfect Proposal – (tips on choosing the right engagement ring) with some tips on how to commission your perfect wedding rings.
Being a jeweller (of the non traditional, commission making kind) I knew that a ring that a million other gals were wearing on their finger simply wouldn’t cut it for me! As an appreciator and flag flyer of ‘independent’ and British doing what I do every day with my jewellery brand Saloukee, strolling to the high street would have (for me) stolen the romance and belief that I have in doing what I do. Commissioning our rings was all part of the process of getting married and though I don’t expect the ‘process’ is the same for everyone, I think there’s enough things that I took away that could be helpful to others in selecting their wedding bands, or at least informing their decision.
So you might ask: “why commission your wedding rings, rather than buy from the high street?” …
Well because they can then be as unique as you both are and is arguably that little bit more sentimental? It allows you choice, rather than compromise and more often than not you will get far better quality for your money than mass produced (off the shelf) jewellery. Bespoke commissions might sound WAY out of your price range but you may be surprised what you can get for your money when working with an independent jeweller or retailer, so I spoke to representatives from both to give an overview of their wedding ring commission process, so you can decipher whether it might just work for you!
Profile: based in Hatton Garden. A team with two generations of experience. Using our CAD design service, your tailored design will then be transformed into a wax model to allow you to try your design on, or make any changes as you wish. Your finalised design will then be sent to our renowned goldsmith to be hand crafted, to create your perfect piece.
Core values: we aim to provide he highest quality hand made rings at the best possible price, our family business is in it for the love of producing only the best jewellery, we take our time on every ring and as they are all hand made, every ring is unique.
Favourite recent commission: Marquise and round diamond ring in platinum, 3.5 ct in total, all diamonds are F colour and VS clarity.
Price ranges: We are different to many jewellers, we work out the gram weight of the metal that is needed to manufacture the ring and price accordingly, this generally comes out at approximately half the price of a ring that you buy off the shelf. For example a plain white or yellow gold ring to match the engagement ring in say 2.5mm can be as little as £300. For a 5mm gents band we sold one yesterday for £538. If the client would like diamonds in the ring, again the diamonds are priced individually. A common misconception is that these will be very expensive, however you can have diamonds set in to the band for as little as £15 per diamond.
Specialisms: Using 18ct. white, yellow and rose gold for ladies and platinum, for gents. Palladium (a relatively new metal) is also a great choice and relatively strong at approximately half the price of platinum. In terms of setting the diamonds, we offer three styles, channel and pave set, these are very classic options and then cut down set/micro set, where the diamonds span the width of the ring and are held with claws. This is becoming very popular as you can maximise sparkle of the diamonds and still keep the ring looking delicate.
Profile: based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Sophia works independently from her workshop designing and making jewellery collections and one off, bespoke commissions. She believes in keeping traditional handmade jewellery manufacturing techniques alive and continually strives to use recycled materials and ethically sourced resources in her practice.
Core values: at SHJ I just want my customers to be happy! I want them to achieve the commission they have in their minds eye and its my job to do this. I want to make jewellery that lasts a lifetime and that becomes a new heirloom passed down to the next generation. I want to help customers re-use sentimental pieces and give customers an experience of having something designed for them, made using age old techniques along side cutting edge technologies.
Favourite recent commission: a bespoke wedding ring I made to fit around an old antique ring, I made a silver ring to fit round and then cast from this.
Price ranges: It’s a good idea to look around at the prices of rings, if you give a jeweller a clear budget they will always try and stick to this, and whenever possible make this fit to your perfect ring. It may be fairly low value in materials but it may take up a lot of time in the making, building in most of the cost to a ring, or visa versa. There are so many options a ring could cost a few hundred to a few thousand pounds and needs its own insurance policy!
Specialisms: I often work in customers’ own metal (from old, unused jewellery), having it re-refined by a UK bullion dealer who also supplies my fair-trade gold and I work a lot in 9ct recycled gold. As a more cost effective option for customers and a more ethical choice to new metal. I also specialise in stone settings, I tend to rub over set most of the time, followed by claw settings and grain settings.
Our 6 Tips On How To Master the Perfect Wedding Ring Commission!
Tip 1: Gather Some Research
The more you know what you do or don’t like, the easier it will be for your designer to come up with what you want! Rip some pages out of magazines, forward on a Pinterest board or email over some snaps, all of this will help your designer form your ideas in to a tangible design that can be made uniquely for you. A general idea of what metal, stones (if any), and styles you like is a good start, plus of course your ring size is also a must! Ladies, if your wedding ring is going to be made to fit in/around an existing engagement ring, be aware that your designer may need/ask for your ring temporarily to ensure they suit and fit perfectly.
Tip 2: Set Your Budget
Planning a wedding is a seriously expensive game and the wedding rings part of it is said to account for just 2% of it! From the outset, it’s better for everyone involved in a commission process, to know what you have to spend. Be upfront and set expectations, then these constraints will allow the designer to show you what options within you price range are possible. It always worth leaving a few pennies for contingency just in case anything changes from either party, perhaps your deadline moves and the designer might need to fast track certain processes for you. Always ensure you can afford what you’ve set out to commission, it may be that you will expected to pay everything upfront or alternatively you may be lucky enough to spread the costs, either way it’s best to discuss this from the outset so you know when you need to comply with your side of the deal!
Tip 3: Work With Someone You Trust
One of the most important things with undertaking a commission is that you trust and are comfortable with the person/persons you are commissioning. Going on recommendation is always a good place to start but if you find on first meeting the synergy just doesn’t feel right to you, it’s no harm doing a little more research. This undertaking is a big deal for you and this is probably one of the only items of jewellery you will be wearing every day for the rest of your life, so it needs to be right! So before taking the plunge it’s worth checking out their previous customer testimonials, ask to see their previous work and when meeting in person/conversing over email/phone, ensure that you ask all the questions you want and need to, to get this commission right – any good commission specialist will want a happy customer, so they will be happy to help.
Tip 4: Be A Little Open Minded
You may have the perfect vision in your head of what your bespoke wedding ring should be like and though clarity is great, just be aware that your dreams may in fact be a little more difficult in reality. You are going to expert because they know their stuff and have done this before, they can help with the knowledge and experience they have learnt over the years. If they say it won’t work and it’s a risky undertaking,my advice would be to believe them. The chances are that they’ve been there and done that and it’s simply not worth blowing your budget by doubling your spend by having to start at square one if things go wrong!
Tip 5: Leave Enough Time
Bespoke commissions could take anywhere from 2-10 weeks (and potentially longer) depending on the complexity of your design, the materials needing to be sourced and the workshop’s schedule. Many independent designers and retailers are much busier on the run up to Christmas for example, so consider factoring in extra time if you have a festive wedding planned. It’s always better to have your rings locked up safely at your home with two months to spare then adding to stress of your planning and build up by worrying that THE RINGS will not arrive in time. Do yourself a favour and get the rings (as well as anything else possible in my experience!) sorted well advance!
Tip 6: Get Adequate Insurance
I know it’s the really dull bit after the exciting commission process but there’s no point commissioning your dream wedding rings to (god forbid!) lose them and not be able to afford to get them replaced! As a rule of thumb, many household insurance policies cover theft of any single item from the home up to £2k, but often if you lose or have it stolen from anywhere else bar the home, you are not covered, which is a pretty scary thought! For the sake of a phone call, it’s worth checking your policy and upgrading where necessary to ensure that your wedding rings (and engagement ring if it’s not been done already) are insured at home and away, then you can relax and if the worse case scenario did happen, at least you’re covered.
So after all of this process, what did Jon and I come up with? …
WEDDING RING FOR HER:
- What: Hand made 18ct yellow gold molten textured band, channel/rub over set with x 31 natural, grey and white brilliant cut diamonds.
- Why: For me I knew 18ct gold was what I wanted because this was the right match for my engagement ring. I wanted the texture of the band to be as organic and raw to its natural materials as possible. The stones were a welcome addition and I was unsure at first whether they would come within budget, but because I didn’t mind if my diamonds were perfect (they are far from ‘white’ and they have many imperfections), I was able to have a ring packed full with them! Even more lovely was that is became symbolic for me, that 31 was the age that I was when we got engaged and 32 (the total number of diamonds added together with engagement ring 5ct whopper!) the age I was when we got married!
- Who: Designed by myself and the designer/maker who Jon had selected to make my engagement ring, the talented Sophia Hargreaves Jewellery.
- What: Hand made 18ct yellow gold textured wedding band.
- Why: For Jon, the thought of wearing jewellery was quite alien, so he wanted it as simplicity and something in keeping with my ring, so we had a close to a his & hers ‘set’ possible without it all being too ‘cheddar’!
- Who: As a jeweller myself (though an unconventional one) I was determined that I could put some of my university traditional jewellery and metal-smithing skills to the test. So I in fact carved and textured his wedding band in wax before sending it to Sophia Hargreaves Jewellery to be cast and finished.
So … what are you waiting for … x