As a jewellery business that has popular Handmade Bespoke Jewellery Services, we understand that commissioning custom jewellery can be an exciting experience, but can also be quite daunting. As long as you take some time to prepare and consider all the important details before starting a bespoke jewellery commission, you’ll enjoy the whole experience, from start to finish.
To prepare for a custom jewellery consultation, you should consider:
When it comes to the type of jewellery you’re hoping to commission, it's important to have a clear idea of what you want. Are you looking for an ethical necklace, an ethically sourced ring, or a set of jewellery? Knowing the specific piece or pieces you want will help your jeweller to understand your vision and create something that’s perfect for you.
If you’re looking for a necklace, think about the length and thickness of the chain (it’s useful to think about the type of necklines you have in your wardrobe), the size and shape of the pendant, and the type of metal and stones you want to incorporate. If you’re after a ring, think about which finger you’d like the ring to sit on, the width and height of the band, the size of the stone and the metal you want it to be made from. With a set of jewellery, do you want matching pieces or a variation of designs that complement each other? All our pieces of ethical handmade jewellery have unique features which will suit different outfits and occasions.
Our Nunc Sterling Silver Statement Necklace is perfect with a scooped neckline.
Now it’s time to think about the style of the piece or pieces. Are you looking for something classic and timeless or something more contemporary? At this stage, it’s good to research different jeweller’s that offer a bespoke service. You’ll want to find a jeweller who’s style suits what you’re looking for. Most jewellers can work to a brief and create something that’s personal to you, but all quality jewellers will have their own signature style, and it’s always best to select a jeweller who makes work that you like. Browse through their jewellery collections and see which artists you’re drawn to.
At Duxford Studios, we create concept driven ethical handmade jewellery inspired by life, death and the journey along the way. Read our blog post on 'What Is Wearable Art?' to find out more about the ideas behind our work.
Once you’ve found the jeweller you’d like to work with, then think about your bespoke design. It’s helpful to collect some images or examples of pieces you like, to help communicate your vision. This will help the jeweller understand the aesthetic you’re looking for and create something that complements your personal style.
Our Sterling Silver Tooth Necklace, inspired by Memento Mori. What is Memento Mori? Find out here.
Another important factor to consider is your budget. Custom jewellery commissions are more expensive than 'off the shelf' jewellery as they’re completely personalised and made to order, so it's important to have a clear idea of how much you are willing to spend and to communicate this clearly to your jeweller. This will help them to suggest materials and designs that fit within your budget.
If you have a lower budget, your jeweller may suggest using alternative metals like sterling silver or gold-filled instead of solid gold and could advise you to choose smaller or fewer stones. If you have a healthy budget, your jeweller will have more flexibility to play around with more expensive materials like platinum and fancy coloured diamonds along with more intricate details and designs.
For more general info on what to look for when buying jewellery, read our blog post.
Once you have considered all of these aspects, you should think about the timeline for when you want the jewellery to be ready. Custom jewellery designs take time (from several weeks to months, depending on the complexity of the piece) so make sure you’re planning and contacting your jeweller well ahead of your deadline. Having a realistic timeline in mind and communicating it to your jeweller as soon as possible will ensure that you have your beautiful new piece of jewellery when you need it.
And once you receive your fabulous new piece of jewellery, you'll need to learn how to look after your jewellery and how to wear your statement jewellery.
The process you will go through when commissioning a bespoke design will be something like:
Follow points 1, 2 and 3 above.
2. Contacting your jeweller to start the bespoke commission
This will involve an initial chat by phone, email or in person where you can discuss your design, show any inspiration images you’ve found, discuss budget and form an initial plan for the design.
Our founder Esme, working on a bespoke jewellery commission
3. Paying a deposit
If you’re happy with the initial plan which you’ve agreed with your jeweller and you’re happy to go ahead with the commission, you’ll then be asked to pay a deposit which is usually 50% of the estimated cost. This ensures the jeweller can be paid for the time it takes to refine the design and buy all the materials required to make the finished piece of jewellery.
4. Refining the design
Your jeweller will discuss the design with you further, they may have drawings to show you and they will also have a firm idea of the cost at this stage.
5. Making the design
At this point, the jeweller will source all of the materials and make the piece. This could include using heirloom metals and stones provided by the client or buying materials specifically. Here at Duxford Studios, we always use ethically sourced materials from reputable suppliers and we advise that you always ask for information about the types of materials that are used to ensure you agree with the ethics of the item you’re commissioning.
6. Ongoing communication
All good quality jewellers will keep you in the loop throughout the making process and share any significant updates with you.
7. Commission complete
Once the item is finished, your jewellery will be delivered to you within the deadline.
Here are a wide range of questions your jeweller may ask you during your initial custom jewellery consultation
- Who is the piece of jewellery being designed for? Is it for you, or being made for someone else as a gift?
- How would you describe the person who will wear the new bespoke piece? Think about their style and taste, favourite colours, lifestyle, career, hobbies and interests, activity level, etc.
- What inspires this person?
- Can you provide five words that describe this person’s personality?
- What type of piece would you like designed? Think about ring size, neck size, wrist size (if applicable).
- Does the wearer prefer - silver, or yellow, white or rose gold?
- What type of jewellery does this person wear?
- Do they have a favourite gemstone? What's their birthday/birthstone?
- If you have any photos or sketches of ideas, send them to us in an email and we can used these as inspiration.
- Do you have precious metal jewellery and gemstones you would like to use and rework to make the new piece?
- What is your budget?
Other things to consider
There are other things you can consider when commissioning custom jewellery, such as:
The sourcing of materials
You may want to consider using heirloom pieces of jewellery to make your new jewellery commission or you may want to consider selecting a jeweller who sources their materials ethically. At Duxford Studios, we use only ethically sourced metals and gemstones from reputable suppliers.
The level of craftsmanship
Depending on the complexity of your design and the quality you’d like to see in the finished item, you may need to research several jewellers and the level of craftmanship they offer. This will ensure that you get the exact piece you’re envisioning with the quality you desire. A good indicator would be to check a jeweller’s stockists and past PR features. If they’re stocked in reputable shops and have been featured in high end publications, this can be a good indicator that they have a high level of craftsmanship.
The level of customer service provided by the jeweller
A good way to understand the level of customer service you can expect from a jeweller is to check their reviews. People are very quick to leave a bad review if they’re not happy with the quality of a business' products and services, so check a business’ reviews and keep an eye out for the mention of the type of customer service people have received.
So to summarise
Make sure you do your research and understand the type and style of the piece or pieces you’d like to commission. Choose a reputable jeweller who uses high-quality and ethical materials and has a good level of craftsmanship and customer service. Communicate your idea, budget and timeline clearly to your jeweller, this will help ensure that you end up with a piece of jewellery that you will love and treasure for years to come. And most importantly, enjoy the process!
So why not start your bespoke handmade jewellery journey today? Whether you're hoping to start your exciting journey towards creating your own bespoke luxury jewellery design or wearable art piece, or you just want to find out more about the process, get in contact. We would love to hear from you via email, or you can fill out the form on our bespoke services page.
Duxford Studios creates ethical handmade jewellery inspired by the human form, modern culture, and the sensation of touch. All of our pieces are cast from hand carved wax in recycled sustainable sterling silver, gold vermeil, and other precious metals. Shop our full collection on our website or get in contact about a custom jewellery design commission. Need help choosing a piece? Read our full guide on what to look for when buying jewellery on our blog page.
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