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Bespoke not Bespangled

All this time in lockdown has had us reflecting on the nature of what it is we do.  Bespoke is a word we hear a lot of these days, what does it really mean in terms of jewellery?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘bespoke’?  It is a common word these days. How would you recognise something that is ‘bespoke’?  What do you look for? There is something we love about the idea of a unique object, so how would you go about commissioning a bespoke piece?

Consider a birthday cake. Don’t we make the birthday girl’s favourite flavour and decorate it with their name, the number of candles in that year of their life and have them and only them blow out the candles?  The cake exists only to carry the sentiment of that moment and the fact that it is gone proves it.

Customised jewellery

Like the cake we may want to see an item’s ‘bespokeness’ in some literal way in the finished thing.  A ring is made for Rose and so the design replicates a rose in shape or with a surface engraving. A necklace for a mother of four is set with four gemstones being the birthstones of each child even if the colours don’t form a coherent palate.  Initials are cleverly integrated into the shape of the settings. The item becomes particular and the recipient therefore more special.

However it is easy to become very literal in this process and this is not always necessary. Details which stand out can throw a piece off kilter. What felt like a good idea now over time may be viewed with a wince. If the idea outweighs the aesthetic it can become difficult to wear and end up looking odd, rather than enhanced, by its detailing. So how to balance the timeless with the individual?

Sapphire and diamond cluster earrings. in 18ct white gold. The diamond sections are removable to allow the studs to be worn alone.

These sapphire and diamond earrings have exactly 20 diamonds around each sapphire, for a 20 year anniversary.


Bespoke jewellery is a conscious choice

Our experience is that it does not matter so much that the detail is obviously idiosyncratic but that a process of thought has gone into the making of the item.  Jewels in this way become like cyphers with a hidden message. On the face of it they are beautiful objects obeying the laws of design and finesse. However the highest aspiration of the ‘bespoke’ item would be with some subtle element that to the keen observer would suggest a conscious choice. ‘Suggest’ is the key here, rather than scream it, and this is the route in to the story. 

Tailors are masters of this. The last button of a gentleman’s suit will be unbuttoned to show that they are real and not decorative, the cut is adjusted only for the wearer.

Engagement ring. Star sapphire set in 18ct white gold.

Star Sapphire ring in 18ct white gold – a reminder of the sun.


Jewels with personality 

Similarly a rare star sapphire manifests a connection with the sun in its six-pointed star reflection and this is chosen for an engagement ring to remind the wearer of her Australian homeland, where the sun is such a feature of life. 

Or the whole design is built around the knowledge that the giver has of the receiver. All possible aspects relating to its wear practical and emotional are considered, from how it will be worn to the sentiment it is to convey. Modern in taste, likes the colour blue, to be worn on special occasions – or childproof and meant for everyday wear.  These choices may not be writ-large or obviously idiosyncratic but are known by those involved with the design and resonate in their appropriateness for the wearer.

Sometimes the pieces need only reflect the character of the wearer. A strong character deserves a bold jewel. A delicate flower-shaped-cluster for someone with an eye for detail.  A geometric Art Deco piece for someone with poise.

A ring for a bright, confident character with bold, saturated complementary colours.


Bespoke jewellery is most often about family

Often people come to us with a piece of jewellery inherited through the family. They find themselves to be in possession not only of a valuable jewel, but the story of their ancestor who chose it in a specific time and place and that story lives on in the object. 

It is this intimate connection with the wearer that is the magic of bespoke jewellery and is really the core answer to the question, “what does ‘bespoke’ jewellery mean?” 

Tanzanite, Pearl and Diamond necklace in white gold.
An heirloom piece.

Further information on bespoke jewellery

Please see here for some case studies about some of the bespoke jewellery pieces we have designed, including the necklace above. And if you are thinking about commissioning a bespoke piece of jewellery yourself and are unsure how where to start we have compiled a helpful guide here that will help.