Client Commission Case Study

A musical story – 60th Wedding Anniversary of Bespoke Commission with Diamond

I was approached by one of my clients early summer this year and was asked if I would be interested in creating a 60th Wedding Anniversary present for her mother. I thought about this opportunity and to be honest, this would be my first 60th anniversary commission with a possible diamond focus,  so I embraced this opportunity. I have designed and created previously both Ruby (40th) and Golden (50th) Anniversary bespoke commissions with clients.

I replied a big “Yes” and explained how grateful I was to be commissioned to be part of this amazing celebration. I was given her father’s mobile number, with view to schedule a chat but it was imminent this might be difficult as her father had to ensure that his wife would be out of earshot otherwise the cat would be let out of the bag and spoil the surprise!

Prior to scheduled call, I was briefed by his daughter that her mother was a passionate piano teacher and immediately thought of musical notes such as treble clefs and bass clefs and a befitting commission could possibly be a bespoke designed brooch. I suggested the idea of a brooch with diamond and it was agreed this commission would be ideal.

I managed to speak with my client at an opportune moment and he was in agreement with the design concept. We eventually met and I showed some design ideas including a previous design below for a pendant which could be adapted to a brooch, see below. I thought this design would be nicely finished, if we introduced a brilliant cut diamond set to a platinum collet to befit this 60th commission.  The base metal would be in 18ct yellow gold with pave diamond setting to the centre of brooch. My client was now eager and excited to see the end result and I only had three weeks to complete the commission.

The next stage was to raise CAD design, lower right which was agreed by client.

My workshop then printed the wax on the 3D Solidscape printer and the wax was then sent for casting and then returned to my workshop ten days later.  The mount was then cleaned up, the bar and pin was assembled to back of brooch and then pre-polished ready for setting of all diamonds.

The brooch was then hallmarked and finished with a final polish and presented in a lovely black box. I personally delivered brooch to my client who presented brooch to his wife in good time for their Diamond Anniversary and was told that she was absolutely delighted. I attended their granddaughter’s wedding in September and had the pleasure of meeting my client’s wife who was wearing the brooch on her lapel which looked stunning.

Here is the finished piece!

Hallmarking – Everything you need to know and more

Hallmarking can be traced back to the 13th century where Edward 1 decreed a new law that “no piece of silver should depart from a worker’s hands until assayed and marked with a leopard’s head”. To clarify this law today 800 years hence, is to state, that any noble metal that is un-hallmarked can not be described as a noble metal without having the fineness of metal confirmed by an assay office. In this case, the leopard’s head is the assay mark of London, one of four assay offices in the UK.

Hallmarking is an important requisite, as jewellery manufacture today necessitates the use of precious metals including platinum, gold, palladium and silver not in their respective 100% purest form. Most metals are alloyed with other metals for purpose of strengthening the base metal and a British hallmark offers peace of mind for the consumer on the basis of three compulsory requirements.

 

Hallmarking – Three compulsory requirements which include:

  1. Sponsors Mark – The maker’s mark
  2. Metal Fineness – The percentage fineness of metal
  3. Assay Office – 1 of 4 in UK
  4. Date denoted by letter – letter ‘s’ for 2017 (Non compulsory)

If I created a platinum ring for a client, the hallmark would read as follows:

GT – 950 – London (Leopard) – s (optional)

 

Where do I find the hallmark?

Ring – Located on inside of mount

Earrings – Back of mount

Pendant – Back of mount

Necklace – Located on clasp

 

The UK hallmarking regulations have become one of the most stringent in the world thanks to the 1973 Hallmarking Act and a flagrant misuse of a description of an un-hallmarked article by any person in the trade or business will be guilty of an offence which can result in a prison sentence!

The Hallmarking Act does protect the consumer, as the UK online jewellery trade today is flooded with imported jewellery manufactured in Asia and the Far East which on importation to UK may not be verified. To safeguard the consumer, if a jeweller sells an imported item such as a platinum ring then the item must be properly hallmarked with minimum three marks, otherwise the item can not be described as platinum, but can only be described as a ring in white!

So please be aware of proper hallmarking on your next jewellery purchase and do ask your jeweller to show you hallmark for peace of mind!

I want to buy my partner a ring but have no idea of her finger size, what do I do?

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This is a typical question I have to address with him when it comes to designing a ring for her as finger sizing is very important because if a ring size is too big or too small, ring will either slide round, slip off or will feel tight and uncomfortable to wear. The solution is to establish what hand and what finger, ring should sit and have the correct sizing at the design stage of ring. If finger sizing is unknown, there are some solutions from the simple to the extreme. Have a read.

Ask a friend or ask her family

Asking a friend to help by letting her try on one of her best friend’s engagement, eternity or dress ring to see if the diamonds or gemstones suit her finger shape. Her friend may have a similar finger size so this could be a start and could provide a solution without letting the cat out of the bag. If you try asking her family then the cat really is out of the bag as if you have been together a while her parents and siblings may start talking and your partner may be congratulated without an inkling of what is going on!

‘Borrow’ her ring for the day without her knowing

This solution is very popular with clients as she may have some favorite rings she wears daily or on a rotation basis. This would require some detective work with critical timing. Make sure she has gone to work for day so you can borrow ring for the day and take to your local jeweller for sizing. Do ensure ring is returned to original place where you located it on same day as otherwise she will notice something is amiss!

blog-2-ring-sizingblog-2-pen

When your partner has popped out for the weekly shop, find a piece of paper and a fine (micro) pen with 0.5mm nib and pull out from jewellery box a ring she wears on correct finger. Then place ring on paper and draw the outline of inside diameter of ring as per illustration above. Please ensure inside diameter and NOT circumference. Your local jeweller can then measure internal diameter which should be fairly accurate. It must be the right finger for this to work as there can be a differential of half to two sizes for same finger on other hand!

Gauge her finger size against your finger size

This solution can work but not always as is dependent on size of your finger! Again, action this when she is not at home. You can pop her ring on one of your fingers and then go to your local jeweller who can size relevant finger. Quite often her engagement finger size emulates your pinkie finger but not if you are small or heavy handed!

Size her finger when she is asleep

This solution is guaranteed to work only if your partner is a heavy sleeper! You can buy online here from Amazon a plastic finger sizer for a few pounds and then slide sizer on her finger when she really is in land of nod! DO NOT TRY THIS IF SHE IS A LIGHT SLEEPER as if she wakes up she may get a fright!

A client of mine this Summer actioned this solution with a great result with an accurate finger sizing and she really was a deep sleeper! Have a look at photo below, she never felt a thing!

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Pointers

Rings come in all differing widths of metal ranging from 1.50mm considered narrow width to 10.00mm + for large cocktail rings. Please note that greater widths of metal will mean ring will sit tighter on finger than a narrow width of metal.

Sizing of fingers can vary seasonally as the warmer summer weather can make finger swell and in winter with cold weather, fingers can shrink and ring can loosen.

Best solution is to ask your local jeweller for advice and in event you try any of above solutions and ring does not fit and sit comfortably, your local jeweller should offer a 24 hour ring sizing service.

Seal engraved rings – a unisex perfect Christmas gift

Seal engraving originated back to the Old Testament, when wax from a lit candle was dripped onto a flap closing a document which was then stamped with an inscribed stem called a seal. Seals were literally used to seal deals and communicate rank and status.

A gold signet ring or fob signet for ladies became more widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries and an unbroken seal confirmed authenticity of documents from noblemen and letters of a more light-hearted or personal nature.

Seal-engraved-family-crest-cushion-ring
Seal engraved family crest, cushion ring
Seal engraved initials, oval ring
Seal engraved initials, oval ring

Today, signet rings are very popular and fashionable with clients and seals can be engraved in all the precious metals including the most popular 18ct yellow gold, 18ct white and rose gold and platinum. Seals can also be engraved into stone, the most popular being Carnelian, Lapis and Sardonyx.

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Coat of Arms/Carnelian stone
Masonic-Lapis-Lazuli_r2
Masonic/Lapis Lazuli

Graham Tom will cut by hand your personal design, initials, crest or coat of arms in reverse creating a negative which creates a positive impression in a wax seal or your personal design can be cut for show. A variety of shaped signet rings are available with the most popular being oval or cushion shaped. Standard stock sizes are available in differing weights which are all cast and a bespoke service is available to create any shape or designated preferred weight.
Please contact Graham Tom for more information.

Seal engraved signet ring with wax impression
Seal engraved signet ring with wax impression
If you require any help with any of our services or have any other concerns I will be delighted to assist you.
Please call me on 0207 404 4022 / 07785 730 214 or leave a message on the contact page

Client Case Study: Redesign of tired ring with an abraded aquamarine into a contemporary cocktail ring

A client contacted me to view several items of tired diamond and gemset jewellery she had not worn for ages with a brief to refresh into new contemporary mounts so she could enjoy wearing them again. When we met, of all the jewellery viewed one piece stood out above all items. It was a significant sized square step cut octagon aquamarine set in a heavy looking collet with some channel set diamond baguette diamonds to shank. There were a few baguettes missing and damaged.

Abraded table to aquamarine
heavy-collect-setting_300x300

What struck me was the state of aquamarine which over the years had sustained abraded facets with some minor chips to girdle with some scratch marks to crown and pavilion. However, there was no real significant damage to stone. I put this down to hardness of this variety gemstone which is 8 on Moh scale which is a durable gemstone within the Beryl species.

I recommended to have the aquamarine repolished with a view to removing the chips and the abraded facet edges and in doing so this would bring back lustre to the gemstone. Lustre being the quality and quantity of reflected light from surface of gemstone. The result as a significantly improved gemstone with amazing lustre with very little weight loss. Please see below.

Repolished aquamarine with high lustre
Repolished aquamarine with high lustre

I will add at this stage, I had not shown improved stone to client as at initial meeting when we discussed redesign for new mount my client wanted to enjoy the surprise on presentation.

I redesigned new mount on CAD which had centre focus of aquamarine with the stone set in a lighter collet with flat claws and mounted to a split shank micropave set with diamonds. Here was the result below and a very happy client.

CAD design for remount
The CAD design for remounting the ring
New mount with polished aquamarine
The new mount with the newly polished aquamarine
If you require any help with any of our services or have any other concerns I will be delighted to assist you.
Please call me on 0207 404 4022 / 07785 730 214 or leave a message on the contact page

Gifting a Diamond or Gemstone for Her – The Stepping Stone

I would like to recommend some further gift ideas for both Him And Her. Let’s start off with Her.

Gifting A Diamond for Her

Gifting a diamond or gemstone for your partner has never been so popular with recent clients, all of whom still want to add the element of surprise and pleasure to the gesture. However, sometimes Men are not confident enough to choose the design or prefer to involve their partner so they can have what they really want for this bespoke piece of jewellery.

The Stepping Stone is a perfect solution. A diamond or gemstone of choice can be bought and presented to Her this Christmas or any other occasion. There is the element of surprise and seeing her lovely face light up with the presentation of a beautifully boxed gem. Then there is the opportunity for her or you both to be fully involved in the design at a convenient time where I will be delighted to help facilitate that perfect piece of jewellery which will last a lifetime.

I really look forward to hearing from you.

 

Gifting a Watch for Him

watches

 

Who wouldn’t be surprised and delighted to receive a branded watch this Christmas? If you are thinking of gifting a watch for your husband, partner, relative, special friend or even treating yourself, I have the perfect solution for you.

Most of my clients are aware that I provide a very discreet watch sourcing service and am able to supply all luxury brands within a two week period at significant discounts with the standard guarantees applying. Please contact me here for further information and I will explain the process.

Refresh and Redesign Vintage Jewellery and Heirlooms

Do you have diamonds, gemstones and old vintage jewellery  gathering dust in your jewellery box? If you do, why not sort them out and let me have a look at them and I can redesign vintage jewellery and will come up with some design ideas for you.

Damaged diamonds and gemstones can be unset, recut, re-polished and reset back into your mount and then worn again for daily or occasional wear. Alternatively, I can redesign another vintage jewellery style or contemporary mount and add further diamonds and gemstones to a new mount. Your metal from old mount can be melted down and reused for your new mount as well.

My CAD design service awaits you and I can repair and refresh all your damaged jewellery mounts including retipping claws, sizing ring shanks and repolishing tired mounts.

Go on,  treat yourself after all what is the point of staring at your jewellery box when you can have great joy wearing sentimental value. Absolutely priceless.

 

redesign vintage Jewellery

Repaired sapphire & new cluster mount

redesign vintage Jewellery

Repaired shank

 

 

Jewellery Valuations

When did you last value your jewellery? Is it properly insured?

You will doubtless have purchased jewellery for either bridal wear, a commitment piece to celebrate a milestone, a lifestyle purchase for occasional wear or may have some jewellery bequeathed by a close relative. I am sure you really love wearing your engagement and matching wedding rings and derive much pleasure from the occasional wear of your vintage pieces. What would happen if you mislaid your favourite piece of jewellery or had a treasured item of jewellery stolen?  In short, you would hope that your item of jewellery would be properly insured.

You would be shocked to learn that most insurance companies do not pay out some claims in full because their clients have not had their jewellery valued properly. This can be to your detriment, especially for a sentimental piece of jewellery or more important for a bespoke piece of jewellery beautifully created with fine gemstones which will not be easy to replace. When I say items should be valued properly, every item of jewellery should be:

  • Valued by a reputable valuer who is qualified and updated with valuation appraisal methodologies.
  • Have a description of article, factual details, a value and a supportive digital photograph.
  • Valued at least every three years because metal, gemstones and currency pricing fluctuate which can significantly impact on an updated value conclusion.

The benefits of an updated Valuation for Insurance by a qualified valuer are as follows:

  • Your item will be valued at a true market value.
  • Your valuation will establish proof of ownership in event of a claim.
  • Your claim will be processed quickly.
  • In event of theft of item, an opportunity exists to recover the piece.

What type of jewellery valuation would be appropriate for my piece of jewellery?

The type of valuation is dependent on its purpose. The majority of jewellery valuations are for insurance purposes but in addition to valuations for insurance there are other purposes which might also be appropriate, for:

a. what type of valuation..

  • Probate
  • Divorce
  • Private sale
  • Loan valuation

Valuations for insurance employ a methodology to arrive at a value conclusion which differs from the above four purposes which use methodologies based on a term called open market valuation. There are several categories of value for purpose of insurance and the category most often used is New Replacement Value (NRV) which is the most popular type of category for modern jewellery. This category represents a value conclusion based on replacing an item of jewellery based on a UK jewellery retailer supplying an item of equivalent quality.

In addition to NRV, there are several other categories for insurance which include Antique Value, Second Hand Value, New For Old Value and Facsimile Value which are employed dependent on the style, brand and age of items of jewellery to be valued.

How will a valuer raise a valuation for insurance and how much do I have to pay for this service?

If you required a valuation for Insurance, a competent valuer would engage in dialogue with you to establish the most suitable category of value to suit your piece of jewellery and would ask for any previous supportive documentation such as valuations and certification of diamonds or gemstones. This is important as the final value conclusion may differ from factual details on documentation supplied.

A valuer will then initially check your items of property to be valued and will draw your attention to any issues with mounts such as damage to stones or a claw missing and then will issue you a receipt with a brief description of all articles and all items weighed. If a mount is damaged the valuer may suggest the item is repaired before valuing item. A valuer may not require taking in your items of property and could make notes while you wait dependent on number of items to be valued.

A valuer will then use the notes from meeting to research items to be valued and arrive at a value conclusion and within the Valuation schedule will detail the following factual information.

  • Description of article.
  • Assessed colour, clarity, dimensions and weight of all diamonds and gemstones.
  • Assessed certificates correspond with diamonds and gemstones in mount.
  • Confirmed hallmarkings.
  • Confirmed mode of manufacture and style of mount.
  • Digital photograph of item.
  • How value conclusion was determined in a transmittal letter.

Cost

The cost of valuing any item of jewellery can vary considerably and in the past a valuer would charge an agreed percentage on total value conclusion. Today most valuers charge either on a hourly basis or raise a fee for a valuation report and charge per item of jewellery valued but this is all subject to the item of jewellery valued. For example, an item of property with significant provenance may take a longer time to reach a value conclusion based on extensive research of item.

b.how-much

As an indicative guide, you can expect to pay following subject to agreement with valuer, all subject to VAT

  • Report fee: £50 – £100
  • £50 – £75 per item of property including gem set jewellery and watches but expect to pay upwards of £100+ for premium items including larger diamonds and gemstones set in jewellery and items with provenance.
  • Discount for revaluation every three years.
  • Lower fee for lower value items.

To summarise jewellery valuations, please do yourselves a big favour and make updating your jewellery valuations a priority and do not let old valuations gather dust as this could cost you dearly. A small price to pay for peace of mind!

Cleaning and Care of Your Jewellery

Love your jewellery! How poor cleaning and a lack of care can lead to ruin!

I have seen rings deformed owing to dumbbell training in the gym and precious metals and gemstones damaged due to heavy housework and gardening in my time as a jewellery expert! A topical issue at the moment, especially with the increase of varying enhancements of coloured gemstones – how you can clean and care for your jewellery better. I list below the bare essentials to ensure you care for your sentimental pieces of jewellery that will offer you a lifetime of wear.

The basics

  • Examine your jewellery. If you can see any damage, either cracks in the gems or damage to the mount do not clean it as you might make things worse. Seek expert advice.
  • Ensure certain stones are secure before cleaning as a lost diamond can be expensive to replace.
  • If in doubt do nowt! Seek expert advice.
  • Remember if you have your items of jewellery polished by a jeweller, it should be seldom as a small micron of metal is removed in process and can weaken old mounts.

What you need

  • A small old head of an electric toothbrush for cleaning inside rings and removing dirt as the splayed out bristles can be worked into small gaps on mounts.
  • Washing up liquid, to remove grease and general dirt.  Do not use soap, as it is made from vegetable oil and congeals on diamonds, and is hard to remove.
  • Silver Dip.  Various brands are available, and are about the same in quality.
  • Silver or Jewellery Polishing Cloth.  Polishes silver and gold, and leaves a protective film on silver which delays tarnishing.  Warning:  do not attempt to polish matt or satin finish, you will spoil it.

d.Jewellery polish cloth    e.Silver dip

What you must avoid

  • Abrasive cleaners for cleaning jewellery.
  • Chlorine or bleach
  • Ultrasonic kits

Diamonds

Cleaning: Apply a drop of washing up liquid to toothbrush, scrub stones and remove congealed soap to facets including tables ,pavilions and underneath collets securing diamonds. Then rinse under lukewarm water and review. You may need to repeat process.

Care: Do not swim with diamond jewellery as salt and chlorine can discolour mount. Do not wear for heavy household chores, gym or gardening. If diamond jewellery is not worn, store in presentation box or pouch and store away from young children! You will be surprised to hear that I have two clients who have had their engagements rings flushed down the loo by their children!

Coloured Gemstones

Cleaning: Apply a drop of washing up liquid to toothbrush, scrub stones and remove congealed soap to facets including tables , pavilions and underneath collets securing gemstone. Then rinse under lukewarm water and review.

IMPORTANT:

Safe in lukewarm water and silver dip. Diamonds,Rubies (unless lead-glass filled), Sapphires, Spinel, Topaz, Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Amethyst, Citrine, Smoky Quartz, Rock Crystal, Zircon, Cubic Zirconia, and Black Onyx.

Safe in lukewarm water, do not soak in Silver Dip:Garnet, Jade, Peridot, Moonstone, Haematite, and Tanzanite.

Do not soak in anything: Emerald, Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Cameos (shell and Wedgwood), Coral, Pearls (includes cultured, simulated and Mother of Pearl), Ivory, Amber, and Malachite.

Do not get wet: Opal doublets and triplets, Turquoise, Charms or lockets with paper inserts or foiled gemstone jewellery.

Care: Do not swim with gemstone jewellery as salt and chlorine can discolour mounts. Do not wear for heavy household chores, gym or gardening. If gemset jewellery is not worn, store in presentation box or pouch and store away from young children! Avoid heat and keep away from direct sunlight.

Gold

Cleaning: Use Jewellery polishing cloth to bring up metallic lustre.

Care: Remove jewellery before showering as soap can make metal dull and discolour. Do not wear swim with diamond jewellery as salt and chlorine can discolour mount.

Platinum

Cleaning: A durable, strong metal and great for setting gemstones. Use a Jewellery polishing cloth to bring up lustre.

Care: Resistant to tarnishing and discolouration but susceptible to scratches so avoid storing close to other jewellery.

Silver

Cleaning: Silver tarnishes so clean with washing up liquid and dry then place in Silver dip to remove tarnish and polish with Silver cloth. Warning:  do not use silver dip to clean matt , antiqued or satin finished silver.

Care: Be careful of antiqued look as dip will remove this look and ruin item. Keep away from dalylight to avoid tarnishing.

Pearls

Cleaning: Pearls are very delicate and susceptible to damage. After every wear wipe down with soft cloth and every 5th wear clean with dampened cloth with soapy water not washing up liquid and wipe dry.

Care: Before every wear apply perfume beforehand as pearls are porous. Every two years have pearls restrung knotted and ensure stored in a chamois bag.

If you stick to the above basics and adhere to cleaning and care for your individual items of jewellery, your jewellery should give you much pleasure and longevity and avoid considerable costs for a remount or supply of a new diamond or gemstone. Please adhere to if in doubt do nowt and seek the advice of a reputable jeweller.

Bespoke Jewellery, Accessible by All

The definition of bespoke according to Wikipedia is an adjective for anything commissioned to a particular specification. “Custom-made”, “made to order”, “made to measure” and sometimes “hand-made” are near-synonyms.. The word bespoke is derived from the verb to bespeak, to “speak for something”, in the specialised meaning “to give order for it to be made” or commission. Specific uses we are familiar with include:

Bespoke tailoring, men’s clothing made to the individual measurements of the customer.

Bespoke software, software written to the specific requirement of a customer. The term bespoke in the jewellery industry today has taken on several guises. To explain in more detail, we are looking at different methods now employed in the manufacture of jewellery today. True bespoke jewellery is defined as “hand made” where the entire mount has been created by hand. The mounter will have bought the sheet metal and wire and will have fashioned the mount using traditional mounting techniques at the bench all by hand.

All the jewellery I created prior to 2006 would have been made by hand and it would have been at a price that was affordable by professionals working in the City.

Bespoke Jewellery process

With the advent of CAD/CAM, this process has revolutionised the industry and made bespoke jewellery accessible to everyone. Manufacturing costs have been slashed by 40% as there is little wastage on metal and a saving on labour time to complete mount. I will add that this has in no way compromised the setting of a mount, as this stage of the process can make or break a beautiful ring dependent on the ability and experience of the setter.

‘The old school’ in our trade argue that this method of manufacture has compromised on the finish of a ring as it can look too engineered. I do not agree, although pieces are now cast and assembled it still takes a good mounter with traditional mounting techniques to finish off a ring that actually does look handmade.

If you have a look at my gallery on website can you differentiate between hand made and CAD/CAM jewellery. Do let me know! But I would like to add Bespoke jewellery and define the term as jewellery individually commissioned to suit the individual requirement of a client. However, it implies a perception of a luxury service reserved for the wealthy who can choose a diamond or gemstone of choice and have it set into a customised mount that will offer pleasure to the recipient. I think everyone should be able to consider ‘bespoke’ and I would encourage you to have a vision of what you would like to achieve and write down what you clearly want and don’t want.

f.Bespoke Jewellery

The benefits of working with a Bespoke Jeweller are:

  • Education of the 4C’s, the variables governing value of diamond.
  • Peace of mind with ethically sourced certificated diamond and gemstones.
  • Unique design to suit your requirement.
  • High quality product.
  • Excellence of service.
  • Emotional and aesthetic value at an affordable price.

An expert bespoke jeweller facilitating the process will really understands your expectations, diamond , gemstone sourcing and bespoke jewellery design so they can help you achieve a precious item to last a lifetime.