Wednesday April 30 2014.


In the last decade, it is evident that Brides and Grooms have been taking a new approach to investing in this, their most precious of purchases.  You may have inherited a stone or piece of jewellery that you want to incorporate or simply haven’t found anything that feels unique and as individual as you are.  Today’s bespoke engagement ring design guide will take you through the process step by step, answering all those questions before you step foot in a design studio.  Sophie Harley has over 25 years experience in jewellery design and has seen her bespoke service grow dramatically in recent years.   Over to Sophie….

bespoke jewellery designer sophie harley

The First Meeting:

…is like an informal interview.   As the designer I’m getting to know the client, making them feel at ease, discussing their likes & dislikes, inspirations, in fact anything that gives the essence of their own story and can be incorporated into the initial design.  Whether you have your own ideas or not, taking a step into a design studio should start the creative juices flowing.  At Sophie Harley we have a cacophony of jewellery samples, a selection of jewels from current collections, photographs of bespoke pieces from the past, raw materials such as gold, silver, platinum and a selection of precious stones to inspire you during the process of bespoke engagement ring design.

It may be that we’ll look through sketches of my previous works, and indeed actual pieces to see if there’s something we can use as a starting point.  I tend to make sketches throughout this initial meeting as this gives the client some clarity on where the design develops next. Beyond the design, other items that should be discussed include:

A: Ring Bands

This is the material that you choose the ring to be made from.  Normally this is made from one or a combination of the following: Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, White Gold, Platinum or Silver. It can be helped by looking at what the Bride wears already as her preferred choice.  Personality is of great importance here, so too is the colour of her eyes, hair, general dress, stature and appearance.

bespoke engagement ring design

B: Which Stone is right?

Diamonds are usually the most expensive and often the rarest gemstones of them all, therefore, the 4 C’s are discussed: Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight.  White diamonds are normally the most ideal, although they are available in colours such as blue, pink, mink, yellow,cognac and even black.  Other gemstones commonly used are Sapphires, Rubies and Emeralds often incorporated as family heirlooms.  Traditional stones are also found in other unusual colours, pink sapphire for example.  Gemstones also relate to people’s birth stones, which can be significant in the final decision:
January – Garnet
February – Amethyst
March – Aquamarine
April – Diamond
May – Emerald
June – Pearl
July – Ruby
August – Peridot
September – Sapphire
October – Opal
November – Topaz
December – Turquoise or Tanzanite

sophie harley jewellery

C: How much do I spend?

This is never easy to work out but a standard tends to be around 2 or 3 months take home salary, as a good benchmark.  It is important to put a budget together before you start the design process, I suggest you start looking through shop windows to get an idea about how far your money will go. However, whether your budget is large or small, a good designer will always be able to design something to suit.

D: How long is the Bespoke process?

A bespoke piece can take on average 3 – 8 weeks from start to finish, depending on the complexity of the design.  I love the creativity it allows me and the fact that my clients become a part of that creative process. The designs are unique to the client and the development of the ring is an enjoyable, happy and unique experience.
The Next Meetings:
Presentation of the final designs but if it’s not possible to meet in person then designs can be scanned and emailed to be followed up with a phone call.   Once approved the engagement ring can be made before final fittings with the bride.  A bespoke piece of jewellery is always going to be very different from something bought on the high street.  You get my time, design, and the intimate, engaging and fascinating process of creating something unique that you will love and cherish always.  It’s an experience in itself that is incredibly rewarding and exciting for all involved (including me!).

Find out more about Sophie Harley and her unique designs at –