A Conversation with Country & Town House Magazine
Luxury British magazine Country and Town House asked us for our thoughts on designing and commissioning bespoke jewellery.
How should you begin when commissioning an engagement ring?
You need to think about the end user. In the case of a blind commission – where I am working with the husband-to-be, having never met the wife-to-be, it’s important to ask a lot of questions about the client to find out as much as you can about her lifestyle, her existing jewellery and her overall ‘look’. From there it’s a question of putting pen to paper until you find a design that is both in budget and the perfect fit in your eyes.
Can you talk us through the four C’s (colour, cut, clarity and carat)?
When it comes to bespoke commissions I encourage my clients to choose stones they love and feel excited by as ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer. One’s choice of cut and colour should be personal and representative of the individual, not influenced by traditional stereotypes. The same can somewhat be said for carat weight – although this can tend to be more significantly led by budget, design or finger size. Clarity is the one element that I am much more fastidious about. The stone doesn’t need to be a D-flawless (I would argue that nine times out of ten there is no good reason to go for that category anyway) but it does need to look clean and inspiring to the naked eye.
What shapes do you think work particularly well for engagement rings?
Anything. Ultimately it all depends on the design of the ring and how the stone is set. When it comes to jewellery I don’t believe there are formulas to follow, and perhaps especially so when designing engagement rings.
Favourite ring setting and cut?
I do think that the rub-over setting is massively under-used when it comes to engagement rings and personally I prefer it to the more generic claw setting. When done elegantly a rub-over setting gives a ring real gravitas and substance.
Favourite cut is pretty much impossible to call, but I would probably say that anything heart-shaped is a real no-go in my books for engagement rings. Best reserved for Barbie and her friends or more fun collection pieces.
How would you recommend people try to find out what their partner might like?
If you want to hedge your bets then a little market research through her girlfriends (who you would have prepped beforehand to go ‘digging’ for details) is never a bad idea – as long as they don’t blow the ‘surprise’; if you want to get it perfectly right, with no margin for error, then propose with your chosen stone in a simple setting and let her design the ring.
When designing a bespoke engagement ring, what are the key things to bear in mind?
The budget; the client; the integrity of the design
If you have no clue where to begin with your bespoke ring, where do you send clients for inspiration?
Ultimately I think it is the responsibility of the jewellery designer to bring inspiration and ingenuity to the table, not the client. Some clients do start the bespoke process with a very clear picture in their head of what sort of ring they want, and arguably of course this does facilitate the design process in the early stages. But many clients have no idea what style, shape or stone they are looking for and in these cases the internet can be a good place for them to find some sort of reference point.
What styles, cuts or gems are popular with your engagement rings?
The brilliant cut, the cushion and emerald cut are all very popular; blue sapphires, white diamonds and emeralds are likewise the stones we see requested most frequently when it comes to engagement rings.
Do you see any emerging trends in engagement rings for this year?
We’ve seen quite a few clients ask for rings that fuse the concept of the engagement ring and wedding band together – a sort of hybrid design that feels less bridal and sparkly and is more reminiscent of an everyday cocktail ring.
If you were designing a ring for yourself, what would you choose?
Something chunky and sculptural in 18ct yellow gold
Best bit of advice you could give to someone thinking about commissioning a bespoke piece / engagement ring?
Research a designer’s past body of work – both the bespoke and what they have produced in collections if applicable. You’ll very quickly get a sense of who they are and if their style of design suits you. You might also be inspired by something you see in their collections which can be then adapted into an engagement ring.