Sometimes people contact us who want to get a mass produced ring that they have seen elsewhere, which might be a bit too costly for them, made as a bespoke ring but cheaper. We'd never copy another jeweller's design as this is not only unethical but against the law, but what we can do is use this design as a starting point and come up with something maybe along similar lines that has something personal for you in it too - after all, this is what having a bespoke ring is all about - a personal touch. It isn't all about price. An engagement ring shouldn't be something that is just churned out in 10 minutes by a mass producing overseas jeweller.
And on that subject, we also often get e-mails from customers who are comparing the prices of gemstones, especially diamonds. This is easy to spot because they ask for something very precise (eg they say 'I am looking for a G VS2 0.52cts diamond in a platinum ring'). There are loads of loose diamond dealers out there who want to convince you that those measurements are the whole story, which would make it very easy to compare prices over the internet and select the best diamond for your money, sight unseen. The internet has made it very easy to compare prices of things which is often a really good thing. For example http://www.moneysupermarket.com is a very useful site. However, it is important to realise that not all things can be compared in this way.
If you describe a car as a 'MK3 Golf GTI with electric windows and a sun roof' then this is worded in a way that everybody could compare this with another. A better one would be a newer one, or one with less miles, better bodywork or sat nav etc. However, hand crafted things can't be compared this way and nor can natural things.
For example, if you wanted to buy a tree online, it wouldn't be enough for you to know that you were buying a half standard oak tree of certain dimensions with/without root ball...you would also want to know that the tree would be healthy and well-grown, and that the site were real experts and could guide you on the best way to plant it etc. A tree is forever - right? Or that is the hope. You don't want to buy a rubbish one.
OK - this one may be a shock - but diamonds are more like oak trees than they are like cars. Yes - they have been carefully cut by people and lasers, but they are essentially natural things that come from the ground.
Here is the important part - no two diamonds are the same. And even two diamonds which are both defined as, say, G VS 0.50cts brilliant cut diamonds will also not be the same - not even when they have the same proportions, symmetry, polish and fluorescence will they be the same. There are loads of companies out there telling you on their sites that diamonds are just a lump of carbon and one is just the same as the other once the 4 c's compare. This is not true - they are only saying this to try to get you to buy their stones on spec without seeing them. They are just after your money!
A full certificate will go through all sorts of details about the diamond including the cut and cutting style, the weight, colour, clarity, polish, symmetry, fluorescence etc and will include diagrams of the stone including positions of any inclusions. But this does not cover all of the characteristics of a diamond. To say that is does is a bit like saying that you can entirely trust that a beautiful view will be lovely by explaining (without seeing it) that it has a certain proportion of sky, land, colours, sun, etc. Every natural diamond is completely unique some are much more sparkly and full of fire than others.
I read a great analogy about this recently in jewellery focus magazine - a jeweller said that when his customers say that they want to buy a diamond that has to be, for example, an E colour, VS clarity and 0.50cts in weight, he tells them that this is like saying that they want to choose a blonde to marry by describing her vital statistics! There is much more to a diamond than just what appears on the certificate and you need to buy a diamond from somebody you totally trust not only to get the quality right for you but also to choose you a diamond with fire and life within it.
In addition to this, the diamonds are graded by people - and so two experts may grade the same stone slightly differently anyway (in theory it shouldn't be drastically differently - but one may say a stone is a VS2 whilst the other will define it as an SI1 if it is on the boundary of quality for example).
The thing with diamonds, is that miniscule factors about the diamond which are not detectable by the human eye of anybody other than an expert can vastly effect the price of the stone. So if you aren't sure what you are buying or more importantly who you are buying from, a certificate can, to some extent give you peace of mind that you are actually buying what you think you are buying. Although the criteria on the certificate certainly won't identify whether the stone is beautiful or not, it will ensure that you are at least getting the vital statistics that you are paying for.
This is the reason that the big diamond websites all bang on about their certificates - they know that you are not going to feel confident to buy a diamond from them unless their diamonds are accompanied by certificates. They rarely even have a shop front, let alone a history and reputation to give you faith that what they say is an H SI1 ideally cut diamond is that and so of course you need to insist on having a certificate. And of course they want your money - they will eliminate telling you that the certificate is, of course, not all that you need to define a diamond's beauty.
When we choose a diamond for a ring, we only choose one that is really really good and has that 'X' factor sometimes called fire. This is the case for our ready-to-wear rings or for our commission rings. During the commission process we also strive to educate you a bit on diamonds so that you can feel confident in the choices in front of you and understand what you are paying for - and can decide whether your priorities are size or quality for example.
So if you e-mail us and ask us for a quote to compare against a ring that you have seen online, and our quote comes out a bit higher this will be because the diamond will be better and the mount will be hand made and good quality. it won't be because we are more expensive for the same thing. In fact, like for like our diamond prices are generally below the UK average. It's true that our mounts can come out a little more expensive, but for your money you are getting a properly hand made, unique ring rather than a mass produced one.
Each of our rings takes many hours to hand make and hand craft. We have the ability not only to do 'meccano' with cast parts from jewellery catalogues, but also to hand forge from scratch if a design requires it. We have all the traditional skills you can need to do the right thing for your design and budget.
Most rings that you will see in all high street jewellers etc are mass produced and are made in approximately 10 minutes - everything else is done by mass production processes. Our rings, however, go through many hours of time of skilled designers and craftsmen and can have 20 or 30 hours work lavished on it Our experts will source a range of gemstones to find the perfect one for you, and can gather you a selection to your budget and needs - maybe showing you different quality and cost options so you can make an informed decision. We will help you choose from some great options and will hold your hand through this important purchase as much or as little as you want.
It is also the case that we have had many customers come to us in the last few years saying 'I'm tearing my hair out! I e-mailed you for a quote for my engagement ring a few years ago and yours was a little bit more costly so I went for the cheaper option...however I have had endless trouble with my ring had made elsewhere and the stone keeps coming loose - please can I come back to you and have you do it properly! I wish I had done that from the start!'. Often they end up starting again with a proper, hand made ring designed especially for them, when going for this in the first place would have been much cheaper.
If you're considering commissioning a ring and wondering where to buy a gemstone, please do get in touch and talk to us about it - you might be pleasantly surprised.