Have it your way: how to make bespoke jewellery work on a budget

Going bespoke doesn’t need to mean splashing all your cash. We ask our favourite budget-savvy Scottish jewellers to show how you can get tailor-made jewellery that doesn’t break the bank

Yellow gold wedding and engagement rings from Brazen Studios
“We look at each design as a creative collaboration between us and the client,” says Sarah Raffel, director of Brazen Studios, a design-led jewellery and goldsmith workshop based in Glasgow city centre. “In this instance we hand-engraved ‘sun rays’ into the yellow gold wedding rings to match the Deco style of the engagement ring.” £POA

Ready for take off

“People hear the word ‘bespoke’ and instantly assume it’s going to be more expensive, but that is often not the case,” asserts Julia Black from James Brown & Partners, a jeweller in Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade that specialises in bespoke pieces.

“When people are asked ‘how much would you like to spend?’ understandably, they can find it off-putting, but being honest about what your budget is gives us an opportunity to create something that works within your price range. Once people know that our creations can be kept at their level of investment, they then relax and enjoy the personal process, rather than worry about costs.”

Yellow gold ring from Jane Harrison jewellery
Twain ring in 9ct yellow gold with diamonds, £800, Jane Harrison Jewellery

Metal heads

Metal choice can make a big difference in the price of your jewellery, as Katie Lees of Katie Lees Jewellery, a contemporary fine jeweller based in Glasgow, explains: “The purity of gold is measured in carats, going right up to 24ct. The lower the carat, the more alloys that are added. This has its benefits in terms of durability – and also cost: 9ct gold is cheaper than 14ct and 18ct.”

Jacqui Grant from Lava Jewellery – an Aberdeenshire jeweller with over 25 years’ experience creating bespoke pieces – urges you to listen to the advice of your designer when selecting metals: “Prices fluctuate and currently platinum is less expensive than 18ct white gold. For the cost-conscious, your jeweller may suggest silver for the gent’s band (because of typically larger finger sizes) and platinum for the lady.” 

White gold ring with blue sapphire from Lava Jewellery
9ct white gold ring with blue sapphire, £POA, Lava Jewellery

Rock ‘n’ roll

“There’s more to sparkle than diamonds,” advises Katie Lees. “White sapphires offer a more subtle glimmer, or there’s an alternative rainbow of coloured gemstones. These come in more colours than you are led to believe, so ask your jeweller what options they have available.”

“When it comes to stones, it is entirely possible to have a bespoke piece of wedding jewellery made on a budget. Customers might choose to use semi-precious stones such as amethyst or topaz, rather than precious stones like diamonds or sapphires to keep the cost down,” notes Claire Moore from Jewellery by Design, a Linlithgow workshop that combines the latest technology with traditional hand skills to produce beautifully made bespoke jewellery.

Diamond circle studs by Jewellery By Design
Diamond circle studs in 9ct white gold, £465, Jewellery By Design

Play with scale

“In the tiny increments that jewellers work with, taking a millimetre off the width of a band or size of a stone won’t always make an overall difference to the design, but can save lots of money,” advises Katie Lees.

This logic can also be used when it comes to setting stones. “Different setting techniques can be used to show off the stones, meaning you may not need as many in the design,” sagely advises Lava Jewellery’s Jacqui.

Rose gold pendant with blue topaz and moonstone by Katie Lees
Lustre pendant in rose gold with blue topaz and moonstone, £415, Katie Lees Jewellery

Keep it in the family

“We specialise in remodelling diamonds and gemstones, so we are often asked to repurpose stones from pieces of family jewellery – it’s a great way to save money and a lovely bit of sentiment for the wedding day,” says Julia from James Brown & Partners. What’s more, it’s also a great way of reducing the environmental impact of your jewellery.

Liam Ross, of Jewellery By Liam Ross, a bespoke specialist based in Edinbugh’s west end,  is also concerned with his jewellery’s green credentials . “We are proud of our low-carbon-footprint efficiency in the production of our jewellery and can even recycle old gold. We also offer Fairtrade and single-mine origin gold [gold that has come from a single, responsibly run gold mine].”

bespoke yellow gold signet ring by Liam Ross
Cushion bespoke monogrammed yellow gold signet ring, from £600, Jewellery by Liam Ross