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The Secrets to Choosing a Bespoke Engagement Ring

Going bespoke makes the engagement ring truly personal to the wearer

At the same time, it's also up a level in workmanship, so generally costs more money. It doesn’t have to empty your savings account though. Here are some tips for making the design bespoke to your brief, and also some of the expectations to consider.

Yellow cushion shape diamond in crossover setting with the wedding ring either side of yellow diamond, set with square claws
Our client had a vision in mind for the engagement ring he wanted to create for his fiancée. Combined with the diamond he selected this was not a ring for which the design was already available. So bespoke was the best route (especially combined with the wedding ring which was very complex!)

Check you need to go bespoke.

First question to ask, which may seem blindingly obvious, but you should ask yourself anyhow.  If you know she is in love with a particular ring design already, then ‘reinventing the ring’ may be unnecessary.  

5 Reasons you may want a bespoke engagement ring;

1. You can’t find a design you like (obvs!)

2. You have an unusual shape or larger stone or few stones of non-standard sizes.

3. You want to include something personal to you in your ring design.

4. You like a particular design look, but you can’t afford the designer.

5. You have a particular design style you like, and would like to create an engagement ring along these lines.

3 Reasons you don’t need a bespoke engagement ring;

1. You like an exact ring design, and it is available for your stone choice.

2. It is going to cost way more to produce the ring, than it actually is to buy the stone.

3. It is somebody else’s design and you are just bootlegging it.  (I’ve added this, because there is a difference to making a bespoke ring ‘in the style of’ a designer look you like, and actually copying the entire ring.  For most classic designs, they have been done by everyone but the more unusual they get, better to seek a variation.  Apart from anything else, you are unlikely to save much in the instance of some really intricate designer looks, because they have a production line to make them anyhow!)

left hand engagement ring with round centre diamond surrounded by round and baguette shape diamonds. Round diamond with crossover shoulders on right.
Just because a ring setting has already been designed, doesn't mean it won't create distinct and unusual engagement rings, without the overheads of the bespoke route. Here, clients chose diamonds and specific engravings.

5 different approaches to a bespoke ring design.

I’ve written some more on this here – so will recap in brief that there are numerous ways to personalise an engagement ring from small changes to the full design journey;

1. Choosing the centre stone (if you are going to have one).  The centre stone is often the largest part of the ring outlay, so being able to dictate what you are looking for gives you more control over this.  We take it as granted that a client is going to want to see a few options to understand the differences. A lot of online sites make this a feature of the ring journey, choose the diamond first and then ‘design the ring’ which basically takes us on to point two..

Oval shaped diamond on blue foam square
The centre stone is always such a significant part of the engagement ring, and clients really enjoy finding 'their perfect diamond' for the ring, and learning more along the way.

2. ‘Design my Own’ can be as simple as having a piece of software which matches the right shanks (the ring part) to the right collets (the stone setting part).  None of this is bespoke, these are all designs created for this purpose, but it is more customised than just picking a finished ring.

3. Design and CAD engagement ring.  This is what it sounds like, on a bespoke footing some concept sketches will be produced of the engagement ring, and then computer aided design will create a 3D model to turn into a casting.  CAD allows far more details to be designed into the ring model, that otherwise would traditionally have to be hand made involving a lot more time and metal wastage.

4. Design and handmade engagement ring.  CAD has made life a lot easier for intricate jewellery designs, yet in the hands of a skilled goldsmith – there is no comparison to a handmade ring, and, in some cases, it is more cost effective.  It comes down to the nature of the jewellery design.  Especially in the case of high value components, a handmade engagement ring will look visually superior to a CAD equivalent.

5. Sometimes, bespoke is a combination of 3 & 4.  The benefit of having a goldsmith manage the CAD process is that it does ensure the piece produced is going to be easier to work with, and goldsmiths can be more specific on metal thicknesses, piece sections etc.

Full bespoke vs customisation

What might it cost to design a bespoke engagement ring?

When I’m determining costs for a bespoke engagement ring, it comes down to value of materials and overall value of ring.  This sounds a bit vague, and I will get a little more specific shortly, but key point here is that I will not recommend making the full bespoke ring route, if the materials themselves will not enhance the ring value.  An example here might be two clients wanting to set a 1 carat diamond.  Diamond A is worth about £5,000.  Diamond B is worth £1,500. For a bespoke made setting on a stone this size, the cost could go between £1,200 to £3,000 depending on additional diamonds etc.  

Now, it is worth considering that for diamond B – which will not look as good compared to diamond A, a well-made setting can enhance the appearance of the stone and we do this a lot. We will just ensure client understands that spending a lot of money on the setting isn’t going to do a lot about the value of a lower quality stone.

Cluster ring setting showing details before and after being set with 12 round brilliant diamonds
This design exists in numerous configurations, but the entire ring has been made by hand. You can see the details of the gold shank, and the platinum setting, and the difference in how the stones have been set (this technique is called cut down). This requires a skilled goldsmith who understands traditional jewellery making, and a skilled setter who understands the same. A ring like this will cost over £8,000, because there are nearly two carats of diamonds in the design, and it takes days to make a setting of this quality.
Want to learn more about what goes in to making a bespoke engagement ring? We’ve outlined the process here.

Customisation – bespoke on a budget

If you are budget strapped, but are still keen on an engagement ring with a more unique look, consider making some compromises that will deliver a personal feel.  Here is how we help our clients;

1. We seek out the uncommon, based on client requirements.  A lot of our engagement rings are not standard designs, partially because we offer more fancy shape stones as well. It’s an existing design, but one you know that none of your friends have seen.

a. Go for personalisation.  One client wrote down the ‘journey’ he and his fiancée had been on to the engagement ring. We supplied a loupe for her, she was blown away with the personalisation and (to his slight chagrin) talked about it a lot more than the diamond!  The little touches mean a lot in these items of jewellery.

2. Look at combining existing components, for a look that is yours.  Ring shanks come in different shapes and looks, as to stone settings.  You can still pick two separate styles, to create one new look.

3. If it’s an existing ring, rework some of the elements so the look evolves. Some of our engagement ring remodelling clients have metal they can recycle and offset against the costs of the new ring.

4. Consider stones other than diamonds. A big coloured stone can make a real statement, and be considerable less outlay than a diamond. You could still factor in a few diamond accents, but have more budget freed up for bespoke work.

Round blue sapphire set within 12 round brilliant diamonds making cluster engagement ring
Here, our client had some diamond jewellery gifted from his mother. We used the stones to make this cluster ring, recycling the metal towards the cost of it. We sourced some sapphire options for him, and helped him manage costs.
Want to know why an engagement ring costs what it does? Read more here.

Is it expensive to make a bespoke engagement ring?

It really depends what you want, and who you are working with. Last week I quoted two clients for bespoke rings, one that was £1,000 with their stones, new metal and a lot of stonework. The other being £1,850 with their stones, existing metal and a full handmade setting. The cheaper of the two said it was too expensive and they would expect a wedding ring included at that price (!). The other client thought it was in line with what he’d expect for the level of workmanship.

Sometimes, making part of a ring by hand, is less than going down a bespoke route. A good jeweller will be able to advise you. We make our recommendations based on the time required to make various parts of the ring.

Give me the average cost..

OK, on average, cost to create a bespoke engagement ring through our service is about £4,500 including a diamond, and £1,800 for a remodel.  If you are looking for a design with a diamond, you probably want to factor in a budget of £3,000 starting point.  

And Finally..

It’s worth considering that there are there are millions of ring designs in existence if you take into account all the tweaks and turns that are included.  So don’t feel that if it isn’t a ‘bespoke design’ that it is a common ring design all the same.  If you don’t need to reinvent the ring, don’t.

Keen to work out what the best approach for your engagement ring might be? Email us here or on WhatsApp and let us know what you have in mind.

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