Seven inspirational Scottish jewellers share the secret of great design, and give us an insight into how to get your hands on beautiful bespoke wedding pieces to treasure forever

Sophie SmithGemini Clay Studio

Image of Sophie Smith of Gemini Clay Studio wearing a pair of her own earrings, and image of model wearing Gemini Clay Studio’s bow earrings (photo: Euan Anderson)

Left: The talented Sophie Smith (wearing a pair of her own earrings) only got into making jewellery four years ago Right: Iconic status can’t be far away for Gemini Clay Studio’s bow earrings. They really completed this Opus Couture look at our recent bridal shoot, captured by Euan Anderson!

How long have you been a jeweller? Since 2020. It’s a hobby I’ve turned into a business. I’m self-taught and actually still work full-time. I didn’t think about selling my pieces until a friend suggested I do a market as a vendor and it sort of took off from there!

What do you offer? As well as having a ready-to-wear collection available, I make bespoke pieces at an affordable price – I want brides to get something that really matches what they’re looking for. A lot of people buy my pieces as gifts for their bridesmaids or even the mums – they’re versatile and can be worn for more than just the big day.

Tell us about the bespoke side of the business – how does that work? Sometimes a bride will come to me with an idea inspired by a piece she has spotted on my website, or perhaps she fancies creating something new. Once we’ve had an initial chat about what she’s looking for, I will sketch up to eight designs. She might like a bit of one design and a bit of another, so we work together on it until we get it exactly right.

Vintage-inspired earrings by Gemini Clay Studio

Left: These vintage-inspired pieces would suit someone looking to add a touch of glamour Right: Sophie’s ready-to-wear bridal collection has been shipped to brides all over the world

How long does the whole process take? It can take a few weeks to make each piece of jewellery. I have brides who are booked for months down the line, so I always tell them not to panic if they don’t hear from me until closer to the time. I enjoy being able to offer an experience that’s unique to each customer. Most of my orders have come from Scotland, but it’s great to be able to branch out.

What’s your most recognisable piece? I’d say people definitely know my bow earrings (pictured right). I genuinely just woke up one morning and thought I’d try it – I can’t quite believe how popular they’ve been. I do them in different colours too.

What has been your biggest achievement so far? Getting to work with Opus Couture, the bridal shop in Ayrshire, has been a big thing. Seeing my earrings as part of its campaigns and on the runway at The Scottish Wedding Show was huge!

Ellys May WoodsEllys May Jewellery

Jeweller Ellys May and a model wearing their striking circle earrings

Left: Ellys May creates ready-to-wear and bespoke jewellery at her studio in the east end of Glasgow Right: These striking earrings, £160, make a statement with any outfit

How did you become a jeweller? I sort of fell into it! I studied geography when I left school, but I knew that art was my proper passion. So I went to the Glasgow School of Art, before doing technical jewellery training down south.

Where do you find inspiration for your pieces? All of my work is inspired by Scotland’s urban landscape. It’s quite minimalist – I like to call it timeless with a twist. There are lots of smaller moving elements that make up each piece. Because of that, something can look different every time you see it or the light hits it. I love that.

Do you make engagement rings or wedding bands too? Yes! I get such a buzz from creating wedding and engagement rings, so much so that this year I am planning to expand my ready-to-wear collection. I also offer a make-your-own wedding ring workshop. If you’d like to try it, I’d suggest starting no later than three months before your date so the rings are ready in time.

A textured ring and earrings with rectangle details by Ellys May

Left: Ellys May’s textured rings, from £40, are inspired by the brickwork of Glasgow’s streets Right: The little rectangles on these earrings, from £60, move when you do, catching the light beautifully

How do you make each commission unique? I enjoy making bespoke pieces and working with couples to create something meaningful. When I was younger I used to love going shopping for sentimental jewellery for milestones like a big birthday, so it’s fantastic that I can now offer that experience to others. Getting to make a piece that someone is going to love forever is so special.

How does the bespoke process work? I think people like how hands-on my process is as a small, independent jeweller – everything is made in-house and by hand as much as possible. I am usually led by the couple on the design and we work together to create something that’s for them and them only. I also love to remodel existing jewellery – it is so lovely to give new life to a well-loved piece.

Coylah EntwistleSheila Fleet Jewellery 

Image showing Coylah Entwistle from Sheila Fleet Jewellery and a gold necklace and silver ring from the brand

Left: Coylah has been with the business for 17 years, the last five as manager of Sheila Fleet’s Glasgow Princes Square store. She has acquired many pieces by Sheila in that time, including this Daisies at Dawn enamel pendant Right: The new Sculpted by Time collection includes this moonstone pendant in yellow gold, £1,710 and Sheila created this North Star ring in platinum and diamond as a tribute to the famed celestial guide in the northern sky, £POA

Hi Coylah! Tell us a bit about Sheila Fleet
Sheila Fleet OBE is one of Scotland’s leading designers of silver, gold and platinum jewellery. All Sheila’s jewellery is designed, made, and finished at her Orkney workshop-by-the-sea, just off the north tip of Scotland. Sheila designs and sketches every piece by hand, taking inspiration from the land, sea and skies of Orkney and Scotland.

What’s the history behind the brand? Sheila Fleet grew up on a farm in Orkney. She studied jewellery and fashion design at Edinburgh College of Art, eventually starting her own company. Originally selling designs from the front porch of her house, Sheila has since built a strong global reputation for her distinctive designs, and now has five retail locations across Scotland.

What is a unique fact about you? We are one of only two jewellers in the world authorised to make and sell Scottish gold from Cononish Gold Mine, Scotland’s only commercial gold mine. This luxurious metal is cast and beautifully finished in the Orkney workshop.

Bride wearing jewellery from Sheila Fleet and a pair of silver earrings with blue flowers

Left: The beautiful organic shape of a mussel shell inspired the design of this pendant and earring – special pieces to wear on your wedding day and beyond Right: Colourful enamel designs, such as these Primula Scotica earrings, £150, are one of the brand’s hallmarks

Tell us about your customers Our pieces have been purchased for everyone from newborns to those at retirement age and beyond. The brand is constantly evolving and we have customers wearing pieces all over the world. There really is something for everyone when it comes to weddings and other special occasions, such as made-to-order designer engagement rings and traditional and contemporary wedding rings. Sheila’s unique and vibrant enamel colours feature in many of her designs, including kilt pins and cufflinks for the groom and groomsmen. You can dress your whole wedding party in Sheila Fleet designs!

Tell us about your latest special launch Sheila recently launched two new collections: Sculpted by Time, based on a design she first started in the 1960s; and Shells, a collection that includes beautiful Limpet, Mussel, Oyster, Scallop, and Groatie Buckie designs. These designs are available in a variety of metals and many are
hand-set with pearls.

Linda ByersByers & Co

Linda Byers of Byers & Co and rings by the jeweller

Left: Owner Linda Byers specialises in bespoke pieces and can even open up her studio for workshops – just the thing if you fancy making your own wedding rings! Right: This bespoke shaped barleycorn diamond and white gold ring was handmade by Linda (as every piece is) at her George Street shop in Perth and This gents’ Tay wedding band, from £600, features beautiful textured metal that’s applied by hand, so each ring is slightly different

How would you describe the style of your jewellery? I create minimalist, traditional pieces by hand at my workshop in Perth. I love sourcing amazing and unique fairtrade stones. I personally have a laid-back approach, which can be nice during all the stresses of planning an engagement or wedding.

What happens when someone commissions a bespoke piece from you? Some couples approach me with a totally blank slate when it comes to the design, while others have a clearer idea of what they’d like. Either way, after an initial chat, I’ll start sketching. I’ll get the designs over to them and make any final tweaks that are needed. It’s then on to sourcing stones, if required. Everything is carried out in-house – in fact, customers who live locally have been known to pop in now and then to see how things are getting on!

Byers & Co has been going for 11 years now. Have you noticed changes in that time? I’d say the biggest change is that more couples are designing the engagement ring together. Probably only about 30% of the engagement rings I design now will be a surprise. And I’m definitely seeing people now opting for coloured stones more (which I love). There’s more repurposing of heritage pieces too. It’s lovely to give new life to an old ring or brooch.

Earrings with pink stone and ring from Byers & Co

Left: These Pirate earrings, one of Linda’s favourite designs, can be made with any precious metal and stone type/colour imaginable Right: This princess-cut diamond ring, from £1,700, artfully combines the classic and the contemporary and is available in an array of precious metals

There’s something quite unusual about your business, isn’t there? I actually also own Terra Botanica, the plant shop and florist next door to my workshop. I frequently have couples ordering both flowers and rings from me. It is quite funny when they come in and think, “Hang on, I recognise her!” While I have a team taking care of things on the florist front, I still love popping in. It’s nice to have two creative roles.

Christina Rose LeonChristina Rose Leon Jewellery

Christina of Christina Rose Leon Jewellery and man taking one of the jewellers workshops to create his own jewellery

Left: Christina has been in the jewellery business for 14 years now, and has customers across the globe Right: In the studio, where Christina regularly hosts workshops to help couples create their own wedding rings

What style of jewellery do you make? As everything I make is a one-off, I can create any design you like – I love a challenge! I’m definitely a traditional jeweller and I’d say my own style is Scottish-inspired with a bit of a twist. I am also a trained diamond-setter and teach other jewellers how to use CAD (computer-aided design) software.

What do you think people would find most surprising about being a jeweller? Sometimes we have to turn into spies! When I’m asked to make a surprise engagement ring, I do everything I can to get the design and style right for that person. I’ll be sent Instagram accounts to look at, I’ll ask more questions than you probably ever think necessary, and I once had to ask the client to take a photograph of their partner holding a coin so I could figure out roughly what size to make the ring! I do still mainly do surprise jewellery, but I like that more couples are choosing to do the design together.

Rings by Christina Rose Leon

Made in precious metals and set with gemstones, these rings by Christina Rose Leon embrace the rich textures and earthy colours of Scotland

Have you noticed many changes in the jewellery world since you started in 2010? There is definitely now more of a focus on sustainable and ethical pieces. Lab-grown diamonds are becoming increasingly popular; there used to be this view that they were almost ‘second best’, but that’s not the case at all – you can get beautiful stones. Remodelling old jewellery is also a thing that more people are doing nowadays. In most cases, these are ‘normal’ people looking at creating something special, so I want to do the best I can for them within their budget.

How do you go above and beyond for your customers? I love keeping people up to date on the making process, and a lot of my customers love seeing ‘behind the curtain’. It’s so nice to share videos and photos of something being created, especially if it is starting off as a heritage piece. It’s lovely to document that process so people can see it going from one thing to another. I think customers really appreciate seeing that.

Gareth Mundie, Ian Mundie & Son

Gareth Mundie from Ian Mundie & Son and image showing rings, earrings and necklaces from the jeweller

Left: Gareth is a certified diamond grader and works from a chic appointment-only studio in Glasgow’s city centre Right: Prepare to be dazzled as you browse the ready-to-wear selection in the display cases of this family-owned jeweller

How long have you been involved in the jewellery world? I was brought up in the trade and I’ve now been a jeweller for 32 years. My dad started the business when I was born, so I’ve been in the industry for more or less as long as I’ve been alive!

You must have seen a lot of changes in that time. What would you say are the latest trends? There has been a move away from white metals back to yellow gold. Likewise, there has been a surge in demand for coloured stones – I’m getting a lot more requests for sapphires, rubies and emeralds. Customers definitely want something different now. The other big change, I’d say, is that people used to purchase jewellery with a view to upgrading it in the future. Today, though, there is a much more sustainable view; people really want to invest in a piece and wear it forever. We also see more people bringing in pieces such as their grandmother’s ring to have it reworked into something for them to wear.

Platinum and diamond stud earrings, antique platinum and diamond watch, and diamond wedding band from Ian Mundie & Son (photo: David N. Anderson) and rings from Ian Mundie & Son

Left: We borrowed these platinum and diamond stud earrings, antique platinum and diamond watch, and diamond wedding band from Ian Mundie & Son for one of our recent photoshoots (captured by David N. AndersonRight: Gareth uses innovative CAD software to design his bespoke pieces

When you create a ring, which elements can be customised? Designs are totally unique to each person. It is a fully bespoke experience: you have a say in the stones, metal, finish and any details like inscriptions or adding something visible only to the wearer. Not sure where to start? Even if you have no idea what you like, you’ll at least know what you don’t like.

What makes your company unique? We have years of expertise and offer a very personal experience. We get to know our customers and build relationships with them – I’m even dealing with the now-grown-up children of customers we had years ago!

Any advice for couples shopping for engagement or wedding rings? First of all, it shouldn’t feel like a box-ticking exercise, it should be a really special experience. Secondly, go for something you love – the jewellery rulebook has been chucked out the window these days. Lastly, when a jeweller has been in the industry a long time, you can trust their opinions and advice.

Jane Harrison, Jane Harrison Jewellery

Jane Harrison Jewellery and image of their East End Studio

Left: Jane says great care is taken throughout the making process to create something special Right: Jane’s studio in the centre of Glasgow is a welcoming space where you can discuss designs and see ready-made pieces

What’s the story behind Jane Harrison Jewellery? I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2012 and now work from a studio at the Briggait in Glasgow. I create jewellery that is timeless, contemporary and inspired by nature, and every piece is hand-crafted here.

What do you think is going to be big in 2024? More and more customers are asking me for coloured stones, and there has been a rise in the number of people happy to go for lab-grown diamonds. There has been a real shift in mindset towards ethical and sustainable pieces at a more affordable price point. It’s also becoming more popular for both halves of the couple to get involved in designing an engagement ring. I like this joint process – it’s nice working with them both and coming up with a design together.

How do you help customers who have no idea which gemstones to go for? I can source stones for you and can even get some on loan so you can actually see them in front of you and how they look in real life. I can remodel sentimental pieces too, so if you have a stone you like – from an old ring or pendant, say – we can reset it in a different design and make it yours.

Rings by Jane Harrison Jewellery

With so many different rings on display, you’ll find a wide variety of inspiration if you’re looking to go bespoke but don’t know where to begin

Do you have a ready-to-wear collection? Yes, as well as specialising in fully bespoke pieces, I also offer ready-to-wear designs, including wedding and engagement rings. Sometimes these serve as a starting point for couples looking for a bespoke piece – I’m able to draw up different variations and give them a selection of ideas.

Any tips for someone thinking of going down the bespoke route? One of the most important things to consider is what is achievable with your budget. This means that during the consultation process, we have a rough idea of what is practical and affordable for you. Doing research is always helpful too; it can be a good idea to have a starting point for us to build on. I regularly do craft fair events, so popping by and saying hello is a great way to get a feel for my designs.

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