How to commission bespoke, hand-made jewellery
A checklist for creating your perfect piece
1. Take a look around
Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration to give you ideas about what you want. While you’re looking, think about what size piece you would like, how often you’ll wear it and what you might wear it with. A craftsperson will not copy another maker’s design, but if it’s a classic shape I can make a personalised interpretation of it. Don’t limit yourself to looking only at jewellery – inspiration can come from anywhere! I recently made a bespoke moonstone necklace based on Carol Ann Duffy’s The Tear Thief.
2. Make it personal
What I love about creating a unique piece of handmade jewellery as a gift is that it’s an opportunity to make something really personal and symbolic.
Birthstones are a wonderful way to personalise jewellery. I made these Catherine Wheel cufflinks for my husband’s birthday using a diamond to symbolise my son’s birthday in April, two emeralds for my husband and daughter’s May birthdays and an alexandrite for my own June birthday. You can see more of my birthstone range here.
“Thank you so much, Catherine, for making them so perfectly 'me'” is a piece of feedback I will always remember. This customer’s daughter had commissioned me to make a pair of Olive Leaf earrings because she could not find anything that looked like the real thing. It was wonderful to help.
3. Have a budget in mind for your unique necklace, earrings, ring or bracelet
As a rough guide, commissioned pieces of jewellery are priced at between 50% and 80% higher than the pricing of my main collection. Prices start from £200 for a pair of bespoke silver stud earrings – but I will try to accommodate any budget.
I really enjoy using existing pieces in different combinations to produce something unique and new. This can be a great way to create a bespoke piece on a budget. For instance, a customer came in who didn’t wear jewellery but had been given a voucher to choose something by the pupils at her school. I created a pendant using a pupa charm in gold and a sapphire set into a birthstone pendant to represent the school colours. These were strung onto a Silver Belcher Chain. I often find that people who haven’t previously worn jewellery are the ones who end up wearing a bespoke piece the most. It’s so satisfying!
4. What metal would you like for your bespoke jewellery?
The amount of time I take to make the piece will be the same whatever materials you choose, so the only difference in price between a gold ring and a silver ring will be the cost of the metal. I recently made a pair of matte platinum wedding rings – the couple hadn’t seen matte metal before and were completely amazed. I offer a choice of: Stirling Silver, Oxidised Silver , 9ct 1& 8ct Yellow , White and Red Gold , 24ct Gold , Palladium , Platinum in Matte or Brushed and Polished.
5. Have fun!
Often great ideas come from conversations. A customer came into the shop recently to browse and fell in love with my twin acorn pendant but wanted something much larger, which I was able to hand-make. The acorns represent her daughters.
I'm here to help
If you have an idea or just want to find out more, you can email me, call me on 01892 540888 or stop by my shop and atelier at 21 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, TN2. I’m open Thursday to Saturday.