Ever wondered what happens when you go to design your own engagement or wedding ring? Or give an heirloom piece a new lease on life? We asked some of Queensland’s premier jewellers what couples can expect from a bespoke design-your-own experience — and why more and more couples are choosing to make their rock one of a kind.
Why go bespoke? You only have to walk into a jewellery showroom or take a leisurely scroll through their socials to realise there are a lot of incredible ready-made engagement rings out there. Real showstoppers. But there’s something extra special about a personal, made-for-you piece. It’s like choosing couture over ready-to-wear. “It means you receive a custom ring with lasting memories over a mass-produced or a machine-made ring,” says Ben Lucas, Master Jeweller at Main Beach’s Just B Jewellery. “A one-off piece that is completely unique and individual,” Being involved in the design process (either together or as a surprise) is another draw for those looking for an out-of-the-box design. “Playing a big part in the design process and working closely with their jeweller to design the perfect piece is a huge deciding factor for couples,” says Ben. “There are many reasons clients go for a custom ring,” says Macy from Clayfield Jewellery. “Maybe their engagement ring won’t fit next to a straight band or maybe they can’t find the perfect ring in store. But by far, the main reason is that they’re looking for a unique piece that can’t be found anywhere else.” And remember, you’re wearing this beauty every day, so why compromise?
So how does it work? To get your rock rolling, book a consultation or design appointment with your preferred jeweller (these meetings are usually free). At Xennox Diamonds (in Brisbane’s CBD), your design appointment might start with a single-malt whisky or glass of Champagne. Speaking our language already! Once you’re comfy in the showroom, the team whisk away any jewellery pieces you might want professionally cleaned as you chat all things bling with a dedicated jeweller designer. Taking into account the shapes, stones, and metals you prefer, they will then sketch your dream ring from a 3D oblique perspective to give you an idea of how it will look. This initial sketch often becomes a precious keepsake once the ring is on your finger.
What if I don’t know exactly what I want? Don’t worry, the experts are there to listen and gently guide you, for a ring that is completely ‘you’. Xennox jewellery designer and author of Rock Her World, Karl Schwantes, notes the importance of a personal approach. “We take the time to chat about things you love, what your daily work involves, and what will look good on your finger,” he says. Oh, and don’t forget that folder of inspo pics you’ve been keeping since you were 12.
Who supplies the stones? While some couples source their own diamonds and gemstones, or bring heirloom pieces to the design table for remodelling, most are happy to leave stone selection to the experts. A reputable jeweller will have access to the most stunning and ethically sourced diamonds and coloured gemstones in the world. And, importantly, they’ll know market value when purchasing this precious cargo.
What happens next? After meticulously noting your measurements and specifications (down to the finest detail), the design will usually head over to the manufacturing team. Brisbane’s Clayfield Jewellery offers a high-tech take on the process with CAD (computer-aided design) and 3D printing. After initial design discussions at their North Brisbane showroom and workshop, the real fun starts. “Once we’re all clear and happy on the concept of design, our CAD designer will build it in the computer, and print a 3D wax model for you to try on,” says Macy. “We make adjustments if necessary and then send it off for casting, or hand-make it in our onsite jewellery workshop using the 3D model as a prototype. Then, our jewellers work their magic and we’re left with a beautiful piece!”
Can I see the work in progress? One of the advantages of working with a jeweller with an onsite workshop is that you can see where it all happens. “We always ensure our clients know they’re welcome to see the piece step by step and witness their vision coming to life,” says Ben. “However, more often than not, they are content to join us back at Just B to see their completed piece!”
Does a custom ring cost more? The short answer is, not necessarily. Many factors affect the price and timeframe, including your choice of stone and metals and the overall complexity of the design. Remember, an extravagant ready-made ring is going to be more spendy than a more modest custom ring. Putting your twist on an existing design will also keep costs down. Of course, an intricate and luxurious one-off design may cost a premium. But the results will be premium too.
What else can I customise? Engagement ring locked in (and can’t take your eyes off it)? There are still plenty of ways you can bring a bespoke touch to your bridal jewellery or groom accessories. “At Just B, we specialise in creating anything humanly possibly!” Ben says. “We can re-model jewellery passed down through families, make a completely new creation from old rings, all the way through to bespoke designs. This can be a wonderfully sentimental opportunity to bring loved ones and precious pieces into your special day.”
10 custom wedding jewellery ideas
1. One-off engagement ring
2. Bespoke wedding bands
3. Signature necklace or earrings
4. Custom cufflinks
5. Personal engraving
6. Custom bridal party jewellery for gifting
7. Flower girl bracelet
8. Remodelling or restoring heirloom jewellery or gemstones
9. ‘Memorial’ pieces (may include photos or ashes)
10. 3D scanning to replicate a favourite piece