A Bespoke Engagement Ring in 5 Days? Maybe.
(..There is always somebody planning an engagement – at any time of the year..)
If you type ‘bespoke engagement ring london’ into your search engine, you will get a host of online companies offering this. My favourite was the one which promised a ‘unique diamond’ in every ring. All diamonds are unique, unless they are lab grown – even Ernest Jones or Goldsmiths offer unique diamonds! The only difference is that they stock vast numbers chosen to a set specification. Still, it was nice of them to highlight this..
The ‘bespoke’ part is using CAD (computer aided design), which some wield more competently than others. It is reasonable to expect to be charged a premium for the service, or the compromise for this will come from stone size and quality against your budget. The upshot, you get a lovely ring. Now, whether it is actually ‘bespoke’ or whether it is just somebody sending you an existing design, and modifying it to your requirements depends on who you go with. Heirloom advise on the type of ring we can produce for our clients and whether they even need something designed, but not everyone does. Be sure to check.
The Time of the Season
Christmas and New Year are the particularly busy times for proposals. Some guys plan their proposal with meticulous precision, some juggle it in a time period of their choosing, and some leave it to the last minute before rushing to the shops or online in a panic! The key emphasis is making the proposal really special, and there is an element of stress however you approach your ring purchase!
The main challenge is not about the ring; it is about the process of making the ring. The jewellery industry is pretty seasonal in the UK. What might take a workshop 3 days to produce most of the year, could take as long as two weeks in November and December as everyone rushes through their requests. There is more demand for great diamonds and gemstones. Designers are busy trying to fulfil orders and commissions. So, if your aim is to propose over this period, unless you buy an engagement ring off the shelf; expect things to take a little longer and factor this into your planning.
With this in mind, back to the original question. Is it even possible to produce a bespoke engagement ring in London, in just five days?
We think it depends on your definition of ‘bespoke’. The more customised an engagement ring is to individual specifications, the more bespoke it is going to feel. This could be choosing the perfect stone which forms the heart of the ring. It could be choosing a particular setting style for the stone, or having some little diamonds set into the band. At the furthest end, bespoke is working out your ring with the aid of a designer. But any one of these approaches offers a custom feel. Taking things beyond what is in store, a client may well have access to over a quarter of a million ‘potentials’!
What is your definition of a bespoke engagement ring?
It is worth noting that a bit like a quilted Chanel handbag, or the Dr Marten boot, a bespoke engagement ring is often a variation on a theme. This means that sometimes, it is just worth taking the theme, and enhancing what is out there, especially if you need the ring relatively quickly. What we do in Heirloom London, is narrow down the preference (some men have been given clearer instructions than others!) and then work on the options from there. When this is just finding the right stone and setting things can be moved quite swiftly. A brand new design will take longer. We look at the impact of each below;
Choosing the stone
When I’m showing clients diamonds or other precious stones, they are already finished. They have been cut and polished. So what is shown is ready to go. The challenge sometimes is when a client wants to move through nuances. For example, last year I created a ring for a client who originally was looking for a 2ct, but had to revise this when he learned about what a good quality 2ct diamond cost!
I showed him some sensational 1.5-1.7ct stones, and some other stones that you might find anywhere. Maybe this is a mistake, we then moved into the ‘stone quality combination price vortex’ which is basically when a client says “I love your stones, but could your find something bigger with just as much sparkle for the same price..
That is all very well, but going back to my earlier point about all diamonds being unique, we pick pretty stones. So if there is a stone with that specification out there, we would have already shown it! In this situation, you either need to have left yourself enough time to wait, pay up, or compromise on stone size. We always go and look, but this adds time, in the case of my poor 2ct chap, it was three weeks and I worried he was going to have a nervous breakdown as we still had to sort out the setting. Which moves on to the next point.
Choosing the setting
The stone may be at the heart of the ring, but the setting is what will make it look amazing. It is also the part of the ring which takes the longest to make. Every engagement ring setting we offer a client has been made to order or modified to order. There are two routes, made to order, and modified to order. I’ll explain them here;
Made to order
Once the ring design has been chosen, we’ll work out an acceptable finger measurement, and off it goes to be cast up. This can take between 24 hours and two weeks.
Two weeks means a ring will come back perfectly finished, and ready to set. A three day production timetable speeds this up, but more work will be required refining the setting.
When the ring setting is ready, it will go with the stone(s) to the workshop. A stone can be set and ring finished in a matter of hours. What affects the lead time is the complexity of the setting, the stone shape, and how busy the workshop is. The ring will also require hallmarking, and the option is there for personalised engraving which might add another 2-3 days.
Between January and September, a made to order setting can be turned around in 5 working days. A key factor is the client making their mind up quickly – sometimes the decision making is what takes so long!
Modified to Order
Some settings are very popular due to their appearance on the hand, and as such, good workshops always keep a couple in stock. I finished a ring recently, where I took the finished setting to the client, to show him what his diamond choice was going to look like in it. All that was required to be done afterwards, was for the ring to be resized, and the claws properly shaped and finished around the stone. This took 48 hours, with another 24 hours for engraving.
This may be one full ring, or a band and a setting. If the pieces already exist, this does save a lot of time in production.
Having your ring designed
If you have something very specific in mind, and you have struggled to find it online, then if you don’t mind the additional outlay, having a design tailored to your needs may be the best option. This is a truly ‘bespoke’ ring where you are in full control of every detail. That said, it involves a weightier outlay because you are paying for a CAD specialist, who also understands ring production (as anyone can make a pretty 3D image) and has a respect for other people’s designs. Although this last point is moot – some companies make their money from creating cheaper versions of designer jewellery..
Can’t you go any faster?
To be fair, none of my clients have ever asked me this. The answer is no, not to deliver the quality we insist on. There are some remodelling jobs when I receive client jewellery where I’m amazed the stone hasn’t already dropped out! Our workshops make rings to last, but we need the time to do this properly, and check, check and check again it has been done to perfection. Ideally we like three weeks to ensure we get everything right.
However, if you are in a real hurry, this is the beauty of the retailer. You can walk into a store and pick up an engagement ring that day! It may not have been exactly what you were looking for, but the message that the ring is already delivering out is the most meaningful part of the proposal I think.
And in the rare instance that it wasn’t quite what she was looking for again, if you chose an off the shelf engagement ring you should be able to exchange it. Your retailer will then be able to help you pick out something more appropriate. If not, well.. there is always our jewellery remodelling service!