The stories behind some of my favourite recent jewellery commissions

In my atelier

Having a jewellery shop and atelier (a fancy French word for studio or workshop) in the historic Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent rather than working in a closed-off studio or from home has challenged my creativity in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’ve always enjoyed making commissions, but in the past these would often be similar to my own work. Now that I open the doors of my Tunbridge Wells jewellery shop from Thursday to Saturday each week, however, I get to meet lots of my customers face to face and as a result I find I’m creating more and more designs to meet a customer’s individual brief or to complement or re-work an existing piece of their jewellery. I always enjoyed being given a really challenging brief in my days at The Royal College of Art, so I’m enjoying the new directions this is taking me in. From these unique jewellery commissions I’ve made some pieces I’m really proud of so I wanted to share some examples with you and tell you a bit more about the stories behind the designs.

Gold Standard

A couple visited me recently with a much loved silver cuff they had bought many years ago in South America. One evening, in the lights of a restaurant, the cuff had appeared gold. They’d completely fallen for the gold version so they asked me to create an interpretation of it. Here is my finished piece in 9ct gold together with the original silver South American design. This was a particularly interesting commission as it required  hammering and planishing something I do not do very often - it was extremely satisfying.

Catherine Hills Jewellery commission, gold bangle, original silver bangle

Rose Gold Starfish

A couple who have followed my jewellery design work for some time often buy pieces from me, which feels like such a compliment. They are absolutely lovely, so it’s always a pleasure when they stop by my Tunbridge Wells jewellers. Most recently they brought in an old platinum ring with two triangular diamonds – they wanted to find out about remodelling the ring but rather than asking me to create a ring redesign they liked the idea of having the diamonds re-used in an existing piece from my collection. I set the diamonds into my Starfish bangle in rose gold – it was so pleasing to see them glimmering in their new home.

With the left over platinum ring (used in starfish bangle) the customer also wanted her favourite silver earrings made in the remaining platinum coupled with 9ct Rose gold to compliment her new bangle.

Catherine Hills Jewellery commissions, original triangular diamond ring

Catherine Hills Jewellery commission, rose gold diamond starfish bangle

Catherine Hills Jewellery commissions, platinum and rose gold two-part heart


A Truly Personal Souvenir

I was commissioned by a friend to create a bespoke, unique man’s ring design for her husband’s birthday. She had collected a pebble from their favourite beach in La Gomera in the Canary Islands, where they’d spent many happy holidays with their boys. The smooth, matte yet almost luminescent pebble is complemented by the texture of the silver.

Catherine Hills Jewellery commissions, original beach pebbles

Catherine Hills Jewellery commissions, man's silver pebble ring

A Unique Birthstone Ring

I made a bespoke version of my Turtle Ring design by adding a scattering of sparkling peridots. The ring was a birthday gift and the peridots were her birthstone, representing abundance in all areas of life including health, wealth and happiness. I love discovering the history and meaning of gemstones and crystals and often use birthstones in my work. I’ve done a quick month-by-month guide to birthstones and their meanings here.

Catherine Hills Jewellery commissions, turtle peridot ring

Finding the Perfect Ear Cuff

This one-off bespoke ear cuff was commissioned as a gift for the same customer. She’d wanted an ear cuff for ages but hadn’t found one she liked. Ear cuffs have to be made from thin silver to make sure they are flexible. I wanted this one to be a little bit ornate so I used some old gridded silver I had (which is sadly no longer available). The design was finished with another glistening peridot to match the ones in her unique Turtle Ring.

Catherine Hills Jewellery commissions, silver lattice peridot ear cuff

A 30th Wedding Anniversary Gift

I was commissioned to make these bespoke pearl cufflinks as a 30th wedding anniversary gift for a man (pearls are the traditional gift to celebrate 30 years of marriage). I liked the idea of hinting at a pearl in an oyster shell by cupping and partially protecting the pearls in sterling silver.

Catherine Hills Jewellery commission, pearl cufflinks

What would you commission?

I’m increasingly seeing people come to me with an old, antique or inherited piece of jewellery (often a ring) that they want to have resized, remodelled slightly or melted down to create something completely new. I’m thinking of putting together another blog post to show some examples, but meanwhile if you do have an old ring or other piece of jewellery you don’t wear and would like to have adjusted or turned into something absolutely fresh, then do get in touch by phone or email or drop in to see me in the shop. I’m open Thursday to Saturday each week or you can make an appointment.

I'm here to help

I’ve also put together some quick tips for commissioning your own unique or bespoke piece of jewellery. To give you an idea of how much it costs to have a ring remodelled, then it’s typically 50-80% higher than the cost of my existing collection, which you can view here.