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Guide to designing bespoke jewellery for your clients

How to go about designing bespoke pieces of jewellery? Alison Cooper, Founder and CEO of Alicia J Diamonds talks through their top advice for anyone looking to design a bespoke piece of jewellery.

Bespoke jewellery is uniquely designed for your client, with your input. Our customers want to create their own pieces, and partners want to design an extra special engagement ring for their loved one or create an original gift for an anniversary or birthday. The bespoke design process means our customers can include meaningful gemstones or a favourite metal or style. It can exactly match the receiver’s desires and requirements. It’s basically making the perfect piece of jewellery. The creativity involved in the process is very satisfying, making the end piece more precious.

I believe the design process should be just as special as the product. The service we offer puts the customer at the heart of the design process, with expert tips and with advice available for any questions or queries.

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Here are a few useful things to know about designing a bespoke piece.

Leave plenty of time and communicate this to your customers. Designing bespoke jewellery is a longer process than simply nipping into a jewellery shop. The time invested helps make the end jewellery so special and rushing it in a panic isn’t a great idea. The designing process is part of the pleasure. Enjoy it – make memories while creating a piece of jewellery to cherish for a lifetime. These days many couples come together to design an engagement ring, and this is lovely to watch as they both craft a unique piece as a symbol of their love. Of course, some still like to surprise their partner with a proposal and a ring – but it’s getting far more usual to involve the person who is actually going to wear the ring for the rest of their life.

Remind customers to consider their budget. Having an open and frank discussion about budget before you start working together is sensible. Encourage your client to be honest. Our tip is to strive to get the best diamond for your client’s budget, which doesn’t necessarily mean high carat. We discuss the 4Cs of diamonds with every customer (cut, colour, clarity and carat), and how they may get a diamond with a different cut and clarity which looks bigger and more dazzling than a more classic one with a higher carat. This doesn’t mean lower quality; it’s just understanding diamonds properly. A key objective that I always work to is ensuring our customers get the best possible jewellery for their budget.

Ask your client to gather design inspiration. Ask them to look at images, Instagram, Pinterest, other people’s jewellery and think about what appeals to them – or the person who will wear the jewellery. It is easier for clients to convey their vision through examples than trying to describe it in words. Make a mood board of ring designs they like (and ask them to think about what they don’t like, too). This helps to form a clear idea about what sort of thing they are after. We use this inspiration to discuss options, advising on price points and any possible design flaws or risks that come with certain designs. Some clients may be totally new to this and have no clue about the design they want, and that’s fine too. We will then introduce them to different designs so they can come to a decision.

Be practical. Many clients fall in love with an extravagant ring design, only to discover it isn’t practical in their everyday lives. Speak to your client about their lifestyle. Does this style of jewellery fit with their day-to-day activities? Are they sporty? Do they work with their hands? Our skill is tailoring the ideas that emerge from meetings with the client with the lifestyle they live. As an example, if a client leads a busy life, we may suggest setting an engagement ring in a durable metal such as platinum, with a slimline design so the ring won’t hinder the active lifestyle. But if the jewellery and lifestyle is all about standing out in a crowd, we’ll tailor that information into the design, too. Whatever is important to our clients is important to us.

Which metal? For engagement rings and wedding bands, the metal makes up around 90% of the ring so it’s an important choice to make. The metal your clients choose will depend on lifestyle, budget, and preference. Some metals like yellow gold are easier to dent and scratch, while platinum jewellery can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Which jewellery colour does your client usually wear? Do they want a ring to match? Ultimately, the metal they choose will perfectly reflect their sense of fashion.

Add finishing touches. Once your client has decided on a design, it’s time to complete their bespoke, personalised vision with final touches. Options can include additional stones to complement the centre stone, alternating metal colours or adding personal meaning. Clients could engrave a date, name or symbol into the ring, insert a birthstone or gem which holds meaning, or even incorporate the metal or stone from their parents’ or grandparents’ ring into the new design. This is perfect for those who have inherited a ring that is not to their taste.

Designing bespoke jewellery is about crafting something special that will last a lifetime. If you think about all of the above points, your client will have a piece of jewellery to truly treasure forever.

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