Bespoke vs Made to Measure

Bespoke vs Made to Measure

Written by Alice Rochester on 5 November 2011

Stone Setting

I went suit shopping with my fiancé at the weekend and we were investigating the various pros and cons of where we bought his suit from and what the terms ‘bespoke’ and ‘made to measure’ actually mean. I knew that Harriet had coined the term ‘bespoke’ from the fashion industry but having not been involved in fashion before my career here at HKBespoke I hadn’t realised how well it actually describes what we do and how we are different from other jewellery companies...

This denotes a piece which has been individually crafted for a customer. It will only be made once and involves lots of hand working, so timescales reflect this – it’s not going to be finished in five minutes! With a suit this means choosing everything about the design: the fabric of the outer as well as the lining, the shape of the jacket, the number and angle of the pockets, the shape and size of the lapels, length of sleeves, shape of the trousers, whether the trousers have a pleat... the list is endless! I didn’t know there were so many things that you could chose from when looking at a suit, but it means that the clothes are made to fit one person and no one else. The same gets said sometimes when we have an appointment with one of our customers. We will talk people through small decisions which then add up to create the ring of their dreams, starting with band width, depth and profile, metal type, colour, size and shape of stones, if there will be side stones, symmetry or asymmetry, finger size, finish... the sky’s the limit when we design the ring together. We then create that ring in the best possible way for that design, either by hand or occasionally using CAD as an initial construction tool.

Made to Measure
This is a service which means you can use a ‘standard’ design from a range and then adapt it, sometimes changing the fabric or swapping details on the design round. These are made to be close to your own body measurements but are usually cut by machine to standard cut patterns (perhaps as a 36 long rather than a normal 36 length, for example) and then assembled by machine and hand. These suits may need some tailoring when it arrives in the shop to ensure a better fit. This service is very like what most jewellery companies offer when they suggest ‘designing your own’ ring. They will have standard bands and standard settings which can be constructed in different combinations to mean that you get a ring which is what you’re looking for, but within their more limited parameters. The advantage of ‘made to measure’ is of course primarily cost. If a standard part can be used then it doesn’t need to be individually handmade, cutting down on construction time and therefore the expense.

Ready to Wear
Sometimes the perfect suit (or ring!) is just waiting for you to try it on. It will be exactly what you’re looking for in terms of shape and style and might only need a minor re-size before you can take it home with you. The advantage of our ready to wear rings is that (unlike ready to wear suits!) each of our pieces is unique and will never be made again. It reminds me of the idea in Harry Potter that ‘the wizard doesn’t choose the wand, the wand chooses the wizard’. Sometimes the perfect ring is sitting here waiting for you! It might not be what you were expecting to like but you will know it when you find it.

I think the best thing about what we do at my company is that we can offer the best of all worlds from engagement ring to pendants. If what you’re looking for is best made by hand then our team of amazing goldsmiths can make each individual piece by hand. If we can use a ‘standard’ piece then we will tell you this and offer it as an alternative to hand making it, as it will help to bring the price of the ring down. You might chose to save money here to be able to go for a whiter diamond or a bigger stone, but if you want it to be entirely handmade then we can do that too!