Why wear an off-the-peg ring when you can have one of a kind? Let’s find out how with some jewellery experts
We live in a world where almost anything can be tailored to suit you. It may be a relatively new concept in the realm of hospitality and retail, but in the jewellery universe, personalisation has been around for a long time: rings can be engraved in various ways, stones can be specially selected and metal can be melted down and refashioned into something completely different.
As you prepare to buy your wedding bands, it’s worth giving some thought to how you can make these truly yours. There are plenty of ways to do this – with significant stones, incorporating heirlooms and even adding hidden messages. And that’s just for starters…
Your wedding ring is undoubtedly the most intimate piece of jewellery you’ll ever own. “It symbolises your marriage and your lifelong commitment to one another and is full of romantic sentiment, so it’s no wonder that more and more couples want to add a personal touch to make theirs unique,” says Sarah Alexander, head of design at Laings.
You’re going to wear these rings for the rest of your life, so injecting them with your style and feelings makes sense. Orkney-based jewellery designer Sheila Fleet has seen many couples do this. “They are looking for bands that have some meaning or relationship to their past experience or their time together,” she tells us.
If you’re in need of some inspiration, your chosen jeweller will have a lot of ideas to ensure the pieces really strike a chord with you. “I made a pair of palladium wedding rings for some clients who felt a strong connection to the sea – they were both keen surfers,” recalls Sarah. “We made a wave-shaped band for the bride which sat against her engagement ring. The groom’s was a wide band with a wave engraved all the way around the outside which mimicked the shape of his wife’s.”
So, where to start? Let’s look at what can be done with the metal. “Rings can be made from countless materials,” says Sarah. “There’s classic yellow gold and its white and rose variations, plus platinum and palladium. There’s even non-precious choices such as titanium, zirconium and steel.”
Sheila Fleet uses all of these too – plus something very rare: Scottish gold. And, she points out, you don’t have to stick to one metal. “We recently had a wonderful request from a couple who came to us with an old 18ct yellow gold wedding ring. Orkney’s famous Ring of Brodgar standing stones were special to them, so we came up with a design where the yellow gold was cut to represent the ceremonial circle and put onto a new white gold ring.”
The idea of upcycling is something that appeals to Sarah at Laings too. “When we make bespoke rings we often use metal from a family piece to build something new,” she says. You could line your ring with metal from an heirloom too – it keeps it close without necessarily being visible.
A long-standing way of customising a ring is by having it engraved. “Traditionally, this is done on the inside,” says Sarah, “but we can also decorate the outside with patterns, text or even images.” External engraving might wear off over time, but it can always be reapplied later.
There are many little adjustments you can make to the design of a ring to make it one of a kind. A lot can be achieved simply by stone choice, for instance. “Diamonds are very popular, but we offer other beautiful gemstones too,” says Sheila. “These are often in bright colours – red rubies and garnets, green emeralds and peridots, yellow and orange citrines, pink and blue sapphires, and purple tanzanites and amethysts.”
She often includes coloured enamels in her designs too. “If a bride shows us the material she has chosen for her dress, we can present her with colourways that would match it, or even create a unique combination for her,” she adds.
Both jewellers are fans of using birthstones in their work. “They make a piece truly personal,” says Sarah.
“And they’re a lovely way to add a meaning known only to the wearer,” points out Sheila.
Talking of only being known to the wearer, if you’re keen to reuse a stone from an old ring but don’t want it to take centre stage, it could be hidden on the inner surface of the ring. “This can sit flush with the metal so you won’t feel it when you’re wearing the ring,” reassures Sarah.
And it doesn’t end at stones. “Our Tidal Treasures collection includes a tiny silver or gold shell. The idea originated with one bride who wanted to include a real Arctic cowrie shell she found on the beach when her husband-to-be asked her to marry him.”
So wear your love story around your finger and keep it close forever.