Choosing an engagement ring is an important moment for every couple.
And for many, the task of finding a design with sufficient personality, means going for something bespoke. But where to begin?
While many of the established jewellery houses also offer a bespoke service, straying from the path of the well-known brands can often provide a better value product and real character of design.
Here are 10 London-based bespoke jewellery designers well worth considering in your hunt for the ring of dreams:
1. Emma Clarkson Webb
When buying a ring from Emma Clarkson Webb, she will first give you a brief education in diamonds and gemstones, then source competitively priced stones from across the globe, specifically to fit requests, before the design is handcrafted by her expert craftsmen in the heart of Hatton Garden.
A certified GIA gemologist, Emma spent time living in Asia, which has enabled her to achieve competitive prices, by drawing on a large network of diamond dealers worldwide.
"Our clients can be involved as they like in designing their perfect engagement ring," she says, "with a designer and gemologist advising them every step of the way to ensure we create the perfect ring at a competitive price.
2. Gee Woods
Gee Woods Jewellery was founded in early 2013 and specialises in both a large amount of bespoke commissioned pieces and, also, a small, ready-to-wear collection.
“In a world where everything is mass produced I like to offer something different and personal to each client so they can walk away with an item that is unique to them,” says Woods. She specialises in reworking old, often neglected, pieces of jewellery which clients wish to modernise.
“We work closely with each other to ensure that they end up with a piece that represents them,” she says, “whilst maintaining the sentiment of an old, often inherited, piece.”
3. Rachel Boston
Rachel graduated in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design and continued to study at the Gemological Institute of America in New York where she received her diploma in Diamond Grading.
Her designs upend the traditional bridal jewellery aesthetic by creating art deco-inspired fine jewellery with a strong, modern edge. She works with both high clarity white diamonds and perfectly imperfect grey diamonds, often combining the two for an interesting mix of high/low materials.
All the bespoke pieces are made in Rachel’s workshop and showroom in east London and in London’s jewellery district Hatton Garden. “By fusing modern and traditional making techniques, and focusing on hand fabrication,” she says, “the products are of both high quality and raw originality. “
4. Lily Kamper
Working from her Brixton studio, Lily has a capsule collection of six beautiful, art deco-inspired engagement rings which are all fully customisable. It's working with couples to design a completely bespoke engagement ring where Lily really gets her kicks though. "It's such an honour," she says.
Stones and diamonds are sourced from trusted suppliers in Hatton Garden but she's also happy to work with a client's own precious stones, perhaps from a family heirloom.
Lily is open-minded, supportive and patient, working with her to create a bespoke ring feels more like throwing ideas around with a pal, albeit a very talented one.
5. Hattie Rickards
Hattie Rickards left school to study Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins and then spent 5 years working for Solange Azagury Partridge. In 2010 she launched her eponymous company with the sole aim of combining her two main loves in life: jewellery and people. Since then she's worked on over 350 bespoke commissions.
“My goal is to work with clients to push them to find their personal design boundaries and create pieces that not only mean a huge amount to them but also that they are proud of creating themselves,” she says.
6. Liv Luttrell
Finding her inspiration in art and architecture, Luttrell's designs focus on abstraction and simplification, resulting in a striking, bold style. Classically trained as a goldsmith and gemologist, Luttrell works closely with her clients throughout the design process sourcing a unique selection of gemstones and diamonds.
Her big focus is on ethical sourcing and production. “I work with a combination of responsibly sourced gemstones and diamonds and Fairtrade gold where ever possible,” she says. “Everything is hand crafted in the UK ensuring the fair treatment of all the artisans involved."
7. Taylor and Hart
Taylor & Hart, was founded in 2013 for couples who want to personalise their engagement ring together.
Following a flexible business model and maximising cutting-edge tech tools, the brand provides its customers with a unique experience through one of life’s most emotional journeys.
All their diamonds are ethically sourced and graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Each ring is uniquely designed, hallmarked and hand-finished in London.
8. Fenton & Co.
The ethos behind new jewellery brand Fenton & Co. is transparent luxury. When you create a ring with Fenton & Co. you will receive a certificate telling you exactly where in the world your gemstone has come from. One thing is guaranteed, it won't be from a conflict zone.
Though Fenton & Co. doesn't offer a fully bespoke engagement ring service, it has five styles which can all be adapted to suit each person's tastes and preferences. Like The Halo ring but want it with a round cut and a bigger pink sapphire? You've got it. The cut, centre stone, metal and stone size are all fully customisable, resulting in a unique piece of jewellery.
The tagline of Fenton & Co. is 'Loving in Colour' and you won't find any diamonds here. To make it affordable, the brand has decided to go for vibrant, colourful gems. So take your pick from yellow sapphire, emerald, pink sapphire, blue sapphire, ruby and aquamarine.
Laura Lambert, co-founder of Fenton & Co, says: "Fenton & Co was founded on a mission to create beautiful, affordable and responsibly-produced coloured gemstone rings. We wanted to disrupt the status quo around fine jewellery by building a brand that offers personalised products and embraces a diverse range of customers so that more people can feel confident and happy when choosing jewellery to mark their special moments in life."
Anyone on the hunt for a lab-grown diamond engagement ring should check out Antwerp-based modern fine jewellery brand Kimai, a favourite of Meghan Markle and Emma Watson. In addition to their off-the-peg engagement ring designs, they offer a bespoke service which can be completed with their skilled designers entirely via video call.
From helping you choose from the different diamond shapes and sizes, to showing you clever ways to customise your ring and even explaining a little about the 4C’s and how your diamond is made in the lab, Kimai’s designers are on hand throughout the process from initial sketches, through to when that green box arrives at your door.
For couples looking to get involved in the engagement ring design process together, Vashi is a modern fine jeweller on a mission to demystify diamonds and involve the customer in the design process from start to finish. You can either personalise one of their off the peg designs, or go fully bespoke and for those keen to swot up before they start, the Vashi team host informal masterclasses focused on the education of diamonds and the 4Cs.
Once you’re ready to design your ring, head into their Covent Garden flagship (or complete the process online if you prefer) and the onsite designers will work with you to dream up your perfect ring. Select from a wide range of diamonds and gemstones before adding any finishing touches you might fancy– they can engrave initials or a secret message, coordinates or a fingerprint… nothing is off bounds.
Then once you’re happy with the design, sit with one of Vashi’s expert makers in the workshop located at the back of the store and watch them craft your piece – you can even help set the final stone! Every ring comes with a physical, customised Love Story book, that documents the making of your piece, and there’s plenty of champagne available throughout.