The Pantiles is the historic area of Tunbridge Wells where I’m lucky to have my jewellery shop and atelier. It has been eerily quiet since mid-March, when the many small independent shops and makers who are my neighbours closed their doors. So, I’m really excited to be able to announce that Catherine Hills Jewellery is opening to the public again on Thursday 2 July – and should be open each Thursday (11am to 5pm) and Saturday (10am to 5pm) from then on.
I’ve really been missing my interactions with customers since the start of lockdown. I’m always intrigued to see who will step through my door – especially if they have come to talk to me about creating a piece of bespoke hand-crafted jewellery as a special gift or a custom-made ring, necklace or other item to celebrate an anniversary or life change for themselves.
Since I opened my shop so many people have come in to share stories from their lives – whether they are asking for an engagement ring or wedding ring, wanting me to refashion a family heirloom or create a completely new piece to celebrate a birth, birthday or anniversary.
In case you are considering commissioning a unique piece of jewellery as a gift or for yourself, I thought I would share some of the stories behind my latest commissions to show you how I create bespoke jewellery and to act as your inspiration.
Bespoke Axolotl Bracelet with aquamarines and diamonds
This commission came from a lovely new customer who has been following me on Instagram. What’s so nice is that she had found some pieces she loved within my collection and had worked out that she had enough jewellery of her own to be able to re-use the stones and gold to make four new pieces following my existing designs. The first is this bangle – a silver Axolotl Bracelet adapted to make the stone settings in 9ct yellow gold and to enlarge them to fit diamonds from some of her other existing rings. Then we added a couple of aquamarines as these are one of her favourite stones.
I also made her an Axolotl Cuff using diamonds and emeralds from her family jewellery collection. Both pieces work so well.
Personalised engraved cuff links
Cufflinks can be a very personal present and I make them in several styles. This pair was a special gift for a friend’s 50th birthday, using my silver Spot the Half Oval Cufflinks engraved with his initials.
Bespoke Branch Ring with repurposed diamonds
This image brings back a very fond memory of a lovely young couple who came to visit me, bringing some family diamond rings with five stones in total. She loved the design of my Branch Ring, but the diamonds were much bigger than in my original so I altered the settings to fit the lovely big stones she had shown me. I was thrilled to hear that the couple have just become engaged during lockdown.
Rububble Ring with added family square-cut ruby
This customer loved my oxidised Rububble Ring but wanted to adapt it to put a square-cut ruby from a family ring into the centre. The square stone changes the design completely and I thought this bespoke version worked really well. The rest of the customer’s rubies were put into a matching bangle and both items became a unique and treasured gift for her daughter.
Medium Round Cuff Earrings customised as clip-ons
Not everyone has pierced ears, so for this piece I adapted the Medium Round Cuff Clip Earrings with Detachable Raspberry Studs sold on my website into clip earrings for a customer with no piercings. I was pleased to find that these earrings are a perfect size and design for people who don’t have their ears pierced
Custom-made Stacking Rings using family diamonds
A lady had been given a family 18ct gold and three-stone diamond ring that she did not like the style of so would not wear. So, I took the three stones out to make three stacking rings. I used the gold to cast the centre one for the largest diamond then put the other two stones in matching white silver rings. Then I added two plain oxidised silver rings so they would all stack together with neat spacing.
Unique Regard Ring with Diamonds
Regard rings were an early kind of Victorian or Edwardian engagement ring with five bands and five different stones whose initials spelled out the word ‘regard’. This commission came from America – in fact, from an American lady who had come to London about twenty years ago, discovered me at a show and commissioned a gold and silver ring similar to this one but without the diamonds. She had worn it and loved it ever since but recently it got too tight and had to be cut off. She said she kept my card and then found my website and decided to commission another, similar ring but using diamonds this time.
Pollen Stacking Rings
This was such a lovely commission from the start of lock-down. It came from a client who really loves blue stones so I made this stack of customisable Pollen rings for her in an ombre of blues - London Blue Topaz, Sapphire, Aquamarine and two Tanzanites. Stacking rings are such a unique way to create a really personal gift and work for a variety of budgets (prices start from £75) as you can choose: the number of rings, the designs, the metals and the stones. You can discover my Pollen Stacking Ring collection here.
Thinking about a commission?
If there is a commission you would like to contact me about, please get in touch. I can work via email or video call or you can come and talk to me in person. Just email me if you would like to book a virtual appointment, book one-to-one appointment at my shop outside opening hours, or pop in when the shop is open. You can also find my guide on how to commission a bespoke piece of jewellery here.