Your Guide to Bespoke Earrings
When thinking about bespoke jewellery, earrings perhaps don’t spring immediately to mind, but they make a lovely gift, can involve as much creativity as any other handmade jewellery and can be made to suit even a modest budget.
We love making bespoke earrings for our clients and have made a wide variety – from small and set with stones from family jewellery, to bigger, more statement pieces.
Here are our top tips for commissioning bespoke earrings.
- If they are a gift, spend a bit of time looking at the kind of earrings the lucky recipient already wears. Some women prefer smaller earrings, some studs, some drops, others hoops, so get ideas from what you already see them wearing
- Think about whether they are for every-day wear or more for a special occasion as this could influence the design. Do they need to go with a certain outfit, for example? A prom or wedding dress perhaps. For example, Chandelier earrings make a wonderful statement at a party or event, but perhaps won’t be worn every day.
- Can you commission something to match an existing necklace or bracelet? It’s always nice to have jewellery you can wear as a set. Maybe the groom can surprise the bride by commissioning some diamond earrings that match the style of her wedding and engagement ring?
- Bring dimensions. Take looking at existing earrings to another level by measuring the length and width of an existing pair of earrings to ensure you get the right proportions. It can be very hard to guess
- Have an idea of what style you’d like – the colour of metal, studs or drops, set with stones or not? Other ways to add to the design include having a beaten or brushed effect on the metal, or combining two colours of metal
- Consider your budget. While we can help you design something to fit the money you want to spend it’s fair to say that a few hundred pounds won’t buy you large diamond-set hoops! Many of our customers love the classic diamond studs. We discuss with you size of diamond, whether you are looking for princess or brilliant cut, emerald or baguette cuts and what metal you would like them setting into. We can then show you the very best quality that your budget will buy.
- Leave enough time. Bespoke jewellery, by its very nature, takes time and effort to make. If you’re buying a gift for a birthday or special occasion we recommend giving us at least 3 weeks to make them. And you can add a few weeks for a couple of appointments to come up with and finalise the design. (these are rough guidelines, if you are in a hurry and need some earrings quickly its always worth asking us – we will do our very best to work to your timescales if we can).
- Fastenings are important. You don’t want your new bespoke jewellery to get lost – according to Direct Line, 3m earrings were lost between 2008 and 2013 (http://www.directline.com/home-insurance/advice/800-000-jewellerypiecesvanishdownthedrain) We’ll talk to you about the best way to ensure your earrings are secure during the design process
- Be allergy-aware. Some people are allergic to particular metals, so try to be aware if you’re buying a gift. One sneaky way to find out what the lucky recipient can wear is to complement a pair of earrings they are wearing and ask what they’re made from
- Bring pictures. For a simple way to describe the kind of earring you’re looking for, bring pictures of similar styles to the first design appointment. You could even bring a picture of the person you’re buying for so we can use this to help you make the right decision
Our friendly team is here to help guide you through the exciting process of buying bespoke, handmade jewellery. Give us a call to arrange an appointment in the studio on 01274 551224 or contact us here
Help with hallmarks – the stamp of quality
In the UK, consumers have been protected by hallmarking for almost 700 years. In 1999, the original Hallmarking Act of 1973 was updated to bring the UK in line with the rest of the EU, allowing this independently assessed guarantee to cover a wider range of purity grades (known as fineness).
Despite the updated legislation, a hallmark remains the official seal of approval, ensuring that the quality of your gold, silver, platinum or palladium jewellery is of the standard claimed by the seller – and of course, at Iain Henderson Designs, all of our handmade, bespoke jewellery carries the relevant insignia.
Why does it matter?
Items containing precious metals can represent monetary, sentimental and personal value – so you want to be sure that you’re getting what you’ve paid for. These marks of guaranteed quality clearly identify the purity (measured by the ratio of gold etc to the other metals contained in the item) and various other key details to show that they’ve been through the strict process required to earn them.
What they mean – your guide to hallmarks
Compare any two items of hallmarked jewellery and you’ll probably find that the marks are different – that’s because they consist of a variety of elements that each indicates a different thing. The main, current marks you’ll see on UK made jewellery are as follows:
The Sponsor’s Mark – this shows who sent the finished item for testing and hallmarking, and can be the manufacturer, importer, retailer or an individual who commissioned the piece. To obtain a sponsor’s mark, you have to register with, and be approved by, an Assay Office.
The Standard Mark – as you can see, each type of precious metal has its own allocated shape, and the number inside indicates the fineness, or purity, of the metal, calculated in parts per 1,000: the higher the number, the purer the metal. And usually, the purer the metal, the more expensive it is. Because all of our jewellery is bespoke we will work with you to identify both the right metal and the right purity to fit your design and your budget.
The most common metals and hallmarks we see in the Uk are 9ct gold (375) and 18ct gold (750), (990 and 999 are for almost pure gold and used rarely due to it being such a soft metal), 925 for sterling silver, 950 for platinum and 950 for palladium. 500 palladium is also regularly seen in on the highstreet throughout the Uk but we don’t work with this metal at our studio as it is not as good quality as the palladium 950. (Palladium 500 is made up of only 50% palladium with the rest of the metal being made up of other alloys.)
The Assay Office Mark – this shows which Assay Office tested and hallmarked the item.
Date Mark – the year that the item was made and tested will be represented by a letter.
Commemorative Marks – if the item was produced to mark a special occasion, it will also carry a mark to represent that event.
Traditional Marks – you might see these marks on older jewellery items, although they’re still sometimes used as a more traditional alternative to the newer stamps.
There are other types of hallmarks used for internationally produced pieces too – if you have marks on your jewellery that you can’t identify from the list above, a local merchant will be able to tell you what they mean.
Quality jewellery, no compromise
Regardless of your level of knowledge when it comes to the various stamps that make up an official hallmark, there’s one thing that’s essential to know: if someone’s tried to sell you an item of gold, silver, platinum or palladium jewellery and it doesn’t have a hallmark, they’re breaking the law, so don’t buy it!
If you require further information or advice, the friendly experts here at IHD will be happy to answer your questions – and if you have an item that you believe is of the quality necessary for a hallmarked approval, we can take care of that for you for a small fee.
Here at IHD HQ we are looking for a new Administrative Assistant/PA! This is an exciting and varied role giving much needed support to Iain and Karl. The role will involve general admin duties, looking after clients from first contact right through to them picking up their jewellery, social media and marketing posts, invoicing and other day to day office tasks.
If you are interested or know anyone that is then please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from people who have a least 2 years Administrative experience and want to be part of our team.
Please email your CV and details of why you’d like the job to firstname.lastname@example.org - or give us a call on 01274 551224
All you need to know about diamond shapes
Commissioning your own bespoke jewellery is an exciting thing to do – but it’s a process which involves lots of choices that can sometimes feel overwhelming.
What colour metal do you want? What style of ring? Diamonds or coloured stones? What shape? And if the jewellery isn’t for you – perhaps it’s an engagement ring – you need to consider whether your intended will love it too.
Because everything we do at Iain Henderson Designs Ltd (IHD) is bespoke you can literally have anything you want (as long as it’s physically possible to make it!) so we’ve written a few guides to help you understand some of your choices and help you feel more comfortable with the design process.
In this guide we take you through the different shapes of stones. We source all of our diamonds through a specialist diamond merchant based in Belgium. They are a family business which has been sourcing high-quality diamonds for decades so we’re able to find stones that suit all tastes and budgets.
The classic round diamond, this is still a popular choice. It’s easy to match a number of brilliant cut stones together, or even use one larger one enhanced by a series of smaller ones. This diamond has many facets cut into it which gives it a brilliant vibrancy and sparkle.
This square stone shape has been a popular contemporary choice since it was created in the 1970s, especially for engagement rings. It’s another stone that’s easy to set with others, although it’s often enhanced with stones of a different shape, such as baguette. Small princess cut stones are commonly used to decorate wedding bands. It’s likely we can even fit them to your existing wedding band or design a band that can have them fitted at a later date.
Long and slim – literally like a French baguette – these are often used to enhance the setting of a larger stone of a different shape. It generally has less cuts meaning it has less sparkle than a brilliant or princess cut.
A rectangular shape, but not as long and slim as a baguette. It has a few more cuts than a baguette diamond giving it more vibrancy, here at IHD we prefer this cut to the baguette cut. As the name suggests, this was a shape originally used for cutting emeralds. The emerald cut is another popular choice for engagement rings and is often set on its own.
Heart-shaped stones are unusual but stunning when set on their own – the ultimate romantic choice for an engagement ring, and also beautiful as earrings or pendants. It’s important that heart-shaped stones are symmetrical, which makes sourcing them from an experienced diamond merchant even more critical.
Also known as a teardrop, this is another diamond shape which is popular for engagement rings as it’s often set on its own. The point can be worn either towards or away from the wearer, depending on preference. It’s another cut which is stunning as a pendant.
An unusual choice but a beautiful one which combines the classic brilliant and contemporary emerald cuts. Looks beautiful when set with smaller brilliant cut stones. Its elongated shape creates the illusion of greater size and its slender shape can make fingers appear slimmer.
A truly stunning cut which looks like a boat viewed from above, being a slim, extended oval with a point at either end. Named because Louis XIV of France had a diamond cut for the Marquise of Pompadour which was meant to resemble the shape of her mouth, the marquise is classic and elegant as an engagement ring, but will certainly need a bespoke wedding ring to shape around its beautiful points.
Design your own jewellery
While these are the most popular stone shapes there are many more, and the options for setting them in your bespoke jewellery are almost infinite. To discuss your perfect piece of jewellery, book an appointment in the studio and our expert team can take you through all of the options. As we source stones to order we can work with almost any budget, so give us a call on 01274 551224 or contact us here.
… when it comes to gemstones, coloured ones are gaining popularity.
Marilyn Monroe told us diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but people are increasingly choosing other stones for their jewellery.
Over the past couple of years here at Iain Henderson Designs we’ve noticed a trend towards more unusual coloured stones. We’ve made an increasing number of engagement rings with coloured stones, some cufflinks set with amber, remodelled family jewellery containing rubies and emeralds, and even created a necklace from a piece of coal.
Maybe it’s the celebrity influence – the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring originally belonged to Princess Diana and is a beautiful Ceylon sapphire surrounded by diamonds – and an increasing number of Hollywood stars (Halle Berry, Blake Lively and Carrie Underwood for example) have been seen sporting coloured gem stones in their rings.
Are they a good investment?
Despite the perceived wisdom that you should invest money in diamonds if you want to see a return, coloured gem stones have been setting records all around the world when it comes to sale prices.
At the end of 2014, Sotheby’s set a new world record when it sold a 8.62 carat Burmese ruby for £5.4m, and a new record for sapphires was also set at a recent auction in Hong Kong.
Other sources quote a 2,200% increase in the value of some types of stone over the past decade, so the answer to whether they’re a good investment is clear.
What are your coloured gem stone options?
If you want a piece of jewellery with coloured gem stones there’s a massive range to choose from. And as we source all of our stones to order from specialist merchants, we are confident we can find something to suit your style and budget.
You could use colour as your inspiration and match a stone to the one you choose. If you’re after red there are rubies or garnet; for blue try sapphires, topaz, turquoise or aquamarine; if you want green then go for emeralds or peridot.
Or you could go with a traditional birth stone. Take a look at a list here. (http://www.birthstonesbymonth.co.uk/)
And as if it wasn’t complicated enough, many stones come in a range of colours. You might not know that sapphires come in a wide range of shades of blue, as well as green, pink, purple, clear and black. Ceylon sapphires, like the one in the Duchess of Cornwall’s ring, are named after the area of Sri Lanka where they are mined and are prized for their clarity and beautiful colour.
Diamonds can also be sourced in a variety of colours – yellow, pink, green, blue, chocolate brown, champagne and the current favourite, black. Also when choosing coloured diamonds, say over an emerald for instance, the stone will be much stronger and won’t break as easily or lose its vibrancy.
It can be a bit overwhelming, so why not take advantage of a chat with an expert and call to see us at the studio? We can talk about what piece of jewellery you’re hoping to create, your style and budget, then recommend a design and stones to suit.
How should you wear them?
Coloured stones in engagement rings have been the most popular recently, but we’ve also studded wedding rings with black diamonds, remade some family jewellery into matching earring and necklaces, and created a pair of bespoke cufflinks. We often hear from our clients that they have been given a family piece of jewellery that just sits in a drawer unworn because they don’t like it, however they love the stones. We can remodel this jewellery into more modern pieces, giving new life to the stones and you a new item of jewellery to wear, it’s a win-win!
As all of our jewellery is bespoke, we can create almost anything you choose, so you can incorporate coloured gem stones into pretty much any kind of jewellery. Take a look at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ihdjewellery for lots of examples of the unusual jewellery we design with our clients.
As well as creating pieces from scratch we can also “retro-fit” stones to jewellery, so if your wedding band is plain and you want to add some colour, we can advise about the size and suitability of stones to do this with.
Inspired? Give the team a call on 01274 551224 to book an appointment to talk to us about your next piece of bespoke jewellery, or contact us here http://www.iainhenderson.co.uk/jewellery/contact-us.php
Life goal: Find the best guy out there, make him want to marry me – check!
Planning a proposal but uninspired by rings in the jewellers’ windows and without a clear idea of what kind of ring he’d like to buy, Glamour of the Kill guitarist Mike Kingswood chatted to a friend about the dilemma.
During that conversation the issue of sentimental value cropped up and Mike realised that, although they are divorced now, his mum still had the engagement ring given to her by his dad some 30 years previously.
“It was a symbol of a time in his life,” said Mike. “A modest stone on a yellow gold band which was the best he could afford as a young man. He’s a successful surgeon now, but the ring still represents that stage of their lives – which is very similar to where Michelle and I are right now.”
Mike’s mum was delighted with the idea of turning her old engagement ring into a new one and liked that the jewellery could be kept in the family. So Iain and the team worked with Mike to update the ring to something more modern.
“It was such an easy process,” says Mike. “Iain took me through all of the options – discussing style, budget and any ideas I had, then came up with a design that met all of my wish list.”
Mike’s fiancée Michelle had moved to the UK just weeks before the proposal from her native Los Angeles, after a two-year transatlantic relationship.
The stone, a classic brilliant cut diamond, was reset in palladium – a derivative of platinum – which is a white metal and much more fitting for Mike’s intended than the original yellow gold. The new ring features an elegant four-claw design and is what jewellers would call “wedd-fit”, that’s to say it will fit with any wedding band.
Michelle was not disappointed when Mike popped the question on Christmas morning – although she did take a while to speak, which was a little uncomfortable for Mike as he waited for an answer!
“To me it’s a more personal thing,” says Mike about re-crafting a piece of family jewellery. “It means more. That will be her favourite piece of jewellery for the rest of her life and when she looks at it in 20 years’ time, the stone will be 50 years old. I like that.”
When asked how she feels about the ring Michelle said: “It’s amazing, I love it! Mike’s so family-orientated, it’s one of the things I love about him. We will definitely be making this a family heirloom and passing it on again.”
And Michelle’s comments on social media say it all – “Life goal: Find the best guy out there. Make him want to marry me. Check.
I am ecstatic to announce that Mike Kingswood has asked me to be his wife. This is the happiest day of my life, so far.”
Mike’s mum, meanwhile, is also delighted that her old engagement ring is being kept in the family.
If you have an idea for a piece of jewellery – be it re-working a family piece or designing something from scratch – the team at IHD would love to help you make that a reality. Give us a call on 01274 551224 or email email@example.com
Last week we found out that we were winners for the second year in a row, for outstanding customer service in our category at the North of England Wedding Awards. Every year, many of the wedding industry’s top suppliers all get together for a special awards dinner, to celebrate outstanding customer service in several different categories.
What’s nice about these awards is that they are voted for by our customers – the people that matter to our business. And because the results are not based on volume of votes it means that the scoring system is fair too – so even if the supplier only has six people who vote for them – they are still in with a chance of winning their category if their average point scoring is higher than another supplier who may have had twenty votes for example.
“We are delighted to have won the award two years in succession, it is great to know that our customers are voting for us and that we are consistently delivering a high standard of customer care.”
We’d like to say a big thank you to all those who voted for us – we love doing what we do and hope to continue making bespoke jewellery for many years to come.
Engagement ring design
We often get customers who want to have an engagement ring designed specifically for their girlfriends but don’t really know where to start when it comes to designs, diamond or stone choices, metal colour or price. With this is mind we have put together a couple of compilations with just some of our designs we have done recently for our clients to give you an idea of the range we can offer, the prices and also the different quality diamonds we can use.
As we mention below, everything about our rings are bespoke – which also means we are able to work with our customers budgets too. The size of diamond, choice of metal, number of stones and clarity of stones can all be worked with to help you achieve your budget, no matter what size it is.
Take a look below at some of our designs and do get in touch if you have any questions – we would be happy to help.
We are delighted to announce that we have been chosen as the FSB Awards Micro Business winners for our region.
We have now been invited to attend the awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton in London later in May, where we are hopefully in with a chance of winning the overall award for the Uk.
See all the details here …..
Ring shaping – how to avoid waving goodbye to your engagement ring
Your elegant shaped engagement ring has been admired by all but now it’s time to order your wedding rings.
You pop into your local high street jeweller to make enquiries – and then comes the shock. Not only is it going to cost you extra to have a wedding band specially shaped to fit, but that’s the last you’ll see of your engagement ring for around six to eight weeks.
So what are the reasons for this? Well, high street jewellers often act as middle men, which means that any ring that needs special shaping has to be sent off to an expert jeweller. The result is that:
- The work will take longer as the shaping is done off site and to suit someone else’s schedule rather than your own
- You won’t meet the person who does the shaping or be able to chat to them directly about the design
- There will be additional costs so that the shop can take a cut on the transaction
The shape of rings to come
Before you start wishing you had gone for a simpler style of ring, there is an alternative – go directly to the specialist jeweller yourself.
Not only will you be able to consult directly with the jeweller, but you’re less likely to be without your engagement ring for weeks. And the good news on the money front – it can actually work out cheaper.
Top tips for ordering a shaped wedding band
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips on what to look for when you need a specialist ring shaping service:
- The customer is always right When you make your initial enquiry, do they respond immediately and treat you as an individual? Or do you feel you’re on a conveyor belt with no room for an individual service?
- Speed of service How long do they need to hold on to your engagement ring? Because we are experienced at this work, in nine out of 10 cases, we can return it to you the same day.
- Saving you money Does the bespoke jeweller pass the savings of going direct on to you, the customer? Most people presume it’s more expensive to use a specialist jeweller than a high street chain, but we have lower overheads and no middle agents and so can pass savings on to the customer.
- Does the jeweller specialise in shaped wedding bands? Find out whether the jeweller has experience in this kind of work and ask to see examples and testimonials.
This last issue is perhaps the most important, as there’s no point in choosing the quickest cheapest option if you don’t end up with a well-designed, correctly shaped wedding ring that fits snugly against your engagement ring and matches the design.
Come to our studio
At IHD, we understand how important it is to you to have a stylish wedding ring to match your engagement ring.
Because we specialise in ring shaping – from split designs to unusual shaped precious gems – you can relax in the knowledge that we have the expertise to create a beautiful matching shaped ring.
We encourage you to take part in the design process, and we chat through your ideas on a one-to-one basis without interruptions – and as you might not be sure exactly where you want your diamonds set, we invite you to set them with us, meaning you are completely involved in the whole process.
We believe that it’s these personal touches that make all the difference.
Whether you are looking for an original shaped design for your engagement ring or would like a wedding band shaped to fit perfectly with a ring you already have, please get in touch. We offer a personal consultation at our studios; just call 01274 551224 or email us here.
- Bespoke Earrings – 10 Top Tips
- Hallmarks – the stamp of quality – everything you need to know …
- We are Hiring!
- A buyer’s guide to diamond shapes
- Colour me beautiful…
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