The Halo, combining a central Diamond with a surrounding outer ring of small Diamonds, this design gives the ring a real ‘wow’ factor without the potentially high cost of a solitaire, very much the Engagement ring of choice right now.
White Gold with a move towards Platinum of late, with the styles currently being made the swing to White Gold is obviously a smart move, however the gap between Platinum and 18ct White Gold re cost has been closed and many brides are now taking the Platinum option without as much added cost as years gone by.
Rose Gold has seen a resurgence of late also, it combines very well with White Gold and/or more than holds its own as the only colour being used.
The Vintage look touching on Art Deco is becoming very popular again, striking designs can be achieved with multiple small Diamonds and the lean towards Rose Gold compliments the Vintage look beautifully. Decorative is most definitely preferred over the simplistic styles of recent times.
Ladies Wedding Rings are becoming almost exclusively Diamond set, bands are being made to compliment the existing Engagement Ring, curved if necessary to fit flush. However a very recent leaning to the stack Ring look has seen multiple layering of different ring styles placed against the Engagement Ring giving a very random loose look.
Two tone Wedding bands for the Gents, combing a mix of many metals and colours has become the choice of most discerning Gents. White Gold combined with the darker grey Titanium, black Zirconium or Rose Gold is making a huge noise in the world of Gents wedding Rings.
Texture, whether it is a subtle matt finish or something a little heavier, unpolished is the king of finishes on Gents Wedding Rings. It is sometimes balanced with subtle rows of Diamonds to give a decorative look to the ‘unfinished’ piece.
Bespoke Engagement Rings, the reasons why..
The bespoke Engagement Ring is rising in popularity with more and more young men getting involved in the design process, which for us as custom Jewellers is really pleasing to see.
There are a few things that you really must take into account when you decide to go this direction, nothing scary but important just the same.
You need to start early, organise to have a conversation with the Jeweller to discuss what you have in mind, and to go through the options that are available to you. Remember a bespoke designed and made ring will give you options, something that a mass produced off the shelf piece does not.
When creating a ring from scratch you have the choice of using an old family heirloom that you can rework, this not only helps in your cost but adds a huge emotional connection to the piece, using Grandma’s old Jewellery really creates a wonderful story behind the finished work. We do many rings where we recycle something precious from previously owned pieces and by doing so create a truly unique and special result.
Also remember that the process of making a ring can take weeks, sometimes months especially when casing and viewing Gemstones, so as mentioned you need to get in contact early for a chat. This is the fun part where you start discussing ideas and getting some sketches down. You use this opportunity to talk about your preferred style, your likes and dislikes, your Jeweller will give you ideas and options for you to consider at this stage.
There is a general assumption that an Engagement Ring has to be set with a diamond, however there really are many other fantastic stone options for the bespoke designed ring. You have the choice of substituting a central diamond for a beautiful coloured gemstone of your preference. Coloured stone are gaining popularity again and are a very worthwhile substitute as a middle stone offering the element of individuality missing from most mass produced Engagement Rings.
A good Jeweller will be able to source and advise on the costs and practicalities of each stone variety. We offer the service of supplying and viewing multiple stones for our clients, to give them the best possible outcome when it comes to their stone of choice whether it be Diamond or otherwise. Matched with your preferred metal, the Ring will take on a life of it’s own, a unique piece, individually yours.
The final piece of advice we can offer is concerning budget, decide on a price area that you are comfortable with and stay within it. Most styles can be tailored to suit you, remember a bespoke ring is built from the ground up, each component will be priced individually and can be adjusted accordingly to create the desired outcome for you. So whether you are approaching this decision as a couple or whether the groom to be is going out on his own your Jeweller is there to help and guide you along the way.
Diamonds....why do the values fluctuate so much you ask ?
One of the biggest decisions in purchasing a piece of diamond set Jewellery is what to spend, you ask yourself what is reasonable to expect as a price, and why does the cost of pieces vary so much ?
In 30 years of custom making Jewellery I have faced this question countless times, the short answer is simple, quality of stone dictates the price when we are talking about Diamonds. That is the SIMPLE answer, the proper answer however needs a little more explaining.
Many of you may know about the 4 C's when it comes to Diamond quality, but there is a little bit more involved. I'll endeavour to explain simply the tricky aspects of Diamonds and the grading and eventual price of them.
A diamond’s proportions affect its light performance, which in turn affects its beauty and overall appeal. Diamonds with fine proportions, symmetry, and polish optimize their interaction with light, and have increased brightness, fire, and scintillation.
So in short we grade CUT the following way.
Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. The better the CUT the better the light play and as a consequence the brilliance reflected back to you.
Diamonds are graded on how closely they approach a colourless state, the less colour the higher the value. Our colour scale starts at D and drops through the scale alphabetically, introducing colour changes as it goes. The distinctions from one grade to the following are very subtle and can be difficult to detect to the untrained eye, however they make a considerable difference in the value of the stone.
Inclusions, imperfections, blemishes, call them what you will, it is extremely rare to find a diamond that lacks any internal and/or external characteristics. These characteristics are a by-product of its formation and are like a fingerprint, each totally different but with a consistency that allows us to grade them as the chart above outlines, again as with the other C's the better the grading the higher the value of the individual stone.
Carat weight is the measurement of how much a Diamond weighs, not the physical measurement across it's diametre but it's actual weight. A metric Carat is defined as 200 milligrams and for diamonds under one carat each carat is divided into 100 points – similar to cents in a dollar or the decimal scale. 0.75 ct. = 75 points, 1/2 ct. = 50 points.
So basing on the realisation the 4 C's can mix and match numerous ways, it's easier to understand the variation in Diamond prices across the board...
As an example you may be presented with a Diamond with the following specifications...
Carat - 0.60ct
Colour - G
Clarity - Slightly Included
Cut - Excellent
Against a Diamond exhibiting the following...
Carat - 0.90ct
Colour - L
Clarity - Included3
Cut - Poor
The second Diamond is larger, by a long way, but due to the reduced grading on the other 3 C's it will be considerably cheaper. This is the fundamental reason for Diamond pricing, when purchasing an Engagement or Diamond set Wedding Ring it's of paramount importance than you ask these questions, you NEED to know the grade of your Diamonds, it is the only way you can feel secure in your purchase. My advice to clients is if the supplier can not or will not tell you the quality of the stones then walk away.
For further piece of mind, a Diamond report or Certificate is a great way to alleviate any worries you may have, ask your supplier for a Diamond that is certified prior to purchase, they can cost a little more but it is well worth it. There are many independent graders that will outline the Diamonds characteristics in a similar way to the image below, this happens to be a G.I.A report, certainly one the of the world leading graders, we endeavour to supply these certificates with all our custom made Engagement Rings.
There are many things you need to ask your chosen Jeweller prior to making a purchase, you need to know whether you are the right fit, whether you are comfortable with the business you are about to entrust your Jewellery purchase or repair with.
1. Are you a qualified Jeweller with a completed apprenticeship and what level of experience do you have.
We cannot stress the importance of this enough, only once your piece is made or repaired can you know what quality you will be getting unless you get a guide from asking this question first. Also check any reference source you can access, testimonials on social media are a great way to get a feel about who you are dealing with these days, also take note of personal recommendations, there is nothing better than word of mouth advertising for any business.
2. What quality are the Diamonds you use and do they come with an independent grading certificate.
Prices vary hugely across the Jewellery industry and generally you get what you pay for, bargains are often misleading with diamond quality playing a huge role in the cost of a piece, the same size stone can vary in the thousands of dollars based on the grade and whether it is a certificated stone which will give you an independent opinion. Always ask, if the business does not know the quality or indicates a reluctance to tell, walk away.
3. Do you do custom work so I can have a choice in my design and contribute to the design process.
There are Jewellers and there are retailers, generally a retailer will try to sell you what they have in stock, to have choice and to able to contribute to the design of your new piece you need to source a Jeweller that can design and custom make you something, we are getting harder to find, if you find a good one stick to them.
4. Are your pieces completed in your workshop or are they imported from overseas.
Often Jewellers will have a small range of stock in their business that is made by them ready for sale, alternatively they will have the ability to custom make something for you, much more preferable than an imported mass produced piece.
5. Do you offer a free stone check and polish service on any items you have produced.
Having your Jewellery 'serviced' regularly is of prime importance, remember your ring is generally on your hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In this time it will be subjected to all manner of knocks and wear and tear, gold and silver is soft and malleable, longevity only comes with proper care and maintenance. Your Jeweller should be able to check claws and settings on a regular basis to check for potential issues and give your piece a spruce up with a polish every 12 months or so.
Buying a new Gold Chain or bracelet should be easy, however it is far from that, you need to know what questions to ask before you make a purchase you will most likely regret.
Being a Jeweller that not only makes one off commissioned pieces but also one that repairs damaged Jewellery, I am confronted by broken chains each and every day. Buying a new chain based on price only, without knowing anything about the piece you are purchasing is fraught with danger as there are many pitfalls to navigate if you want longevity from your new acquisition..
Firstly, the trend now from most retailers is the sell as cheap as possible, you know the 'always on sale' brigade, half price, buy now etc etc...to achieve this something has to give, the cost of gold is the cost of gold, to undercut each other something has to be lost, unfortunately it is generally the facts.
I will explain, chains are purchased by the weight, as Jewellers we pay x amount of dollars per gram, just like buying meat by the kilo. Ask many retailers how much the gold chain they are trying to sell you weighs and you will find no one is prepared to tell you, they will often suggest they have no scales in the shop so no way of weighing. Fact, chains are priced by the weight when purchased from the wholesaler, what they are hiding is your ability to compare weights with other retailers, thus your ability to compare apples with apples.
First lesson, know how much the chain weighs, divide the cost of the chain by the weight and you will know the cost per gram..so in mathematical terms..
As an example, Chain is $200.00 divided by 4 grams = $50.00 per gram, assuming it is a 9ct chain you can use this formula in another shop and compare what they are charging per gram for a similar weighted chain, length does not matter, only the gram weight..
To help keep chains looking impressive the Jewellery industry has long ago developed the ability to manufacture hollow links, this serves a duel purpose, chains look large and weigh much less, giving you a false idea of what you are getting. More reason to ask the weight, things are not always what they seem. That large, bulky looking chain that is a great price may not be that at all, you may be buying a never ending repair bill. Hollow chains do not wear well, will not last the same time a smaller looking solid chain will. Remember also, wearing a pendant on your chain will actually accelerate the damage being done, the links will cut into each other over a shorter period of time when submitted to the extra weigh of a pendant, unfortunately larger looking chains tend to be matched with larger pendants, if they have hollow links you are asking for trouble.
Second lesson, stay way from hollow chains, ask the salesperson if the chain is indeed hollow, rattle it in your hand and listen for a tinny sound. If in doubt leave the shop.
Another common thing being sold these days is what is referred to as 'Silver Filled' chains and bracelets. Fact is gold chains cannot be filled with silver to give a hollow chain the strength of a solid one, contrary to the names implication. 'Silver filled' chains are in fact silver chains that have a 'gold casing' to the outside, quiet the opposite to what most people think. The casing wears off over time, the chains cannot be repaired, shortened, extended, soldered etc without loosing the gold colour where the work has been done. The ability to polish and refresh the chain is also lessened, the gold colour can often be removed by the first attempt to polish the piece. You are in fact buying an over priced silver chain with a gold colour that unfortunately will not last a lifetime, no matter what you are told.
Third lesson, avoid 'Silver Filled' chains and bracelets at all costs, a total false economy, you are not buying a gold chain at a great price.
Lastly, style is very important relative to your wearing expectations, chains should always be thought of as an adornment, something to wear as a dress piece, not worn to bed, and preferably not worn in the shower. If you plan to wear a pendant or pendants on your chain I would suggest going with a plainer style, a flat curb chain, a figaro possibly, make the pendant the focus, plain tight knit styles are much better suited to this practice. Snake chains serve this purpose beautifully but are notorious for kinking, they need to treated with extreme care and stored hanging or lying flat, they are absolutely not for wearing to bed. A fancy rope chain, belcher, or a herringbone are also best suited unadorned, neither will take kindly to pendants and the extra weight and drag they will impart on the chain. So as you can see, buying a chain is not just a simple task, styles need to be thought about, function is the key, what do you want from your chain ?
Don't get sucked in by the cost, half price specials etc, ask questions, think about what you have just read, it just might save you some heartache in the long run. We hand make many different styles of chains and bracelets, using our gold or alternately we can use yours, we always try to give open and honest feedback on clients queries to hopefully help you make an informed decision. Making that chain purchase either for yourself or as a gift should make you feel good for years, make the correct decision with a little thought and inside knowledge..
As a Jeweller I am continually asked about the differences in metals used in creating the pieces I do.
Which should I use ?
Why does White Gold need Rhodium plating ?
Which metal will last the longest ?
And on they go, so I will try to clear up some of those and more in this short explanation piece for you.
Gold in it's pure form is given the rating of 24 Carat, at this stage is it generally regarded as too soft to be a practical metal for making Jewellery. To improve on this and improve its durability we 'alloy' it with other metals. This in fact is the process of diluting the 24 Carat gold into a lesser purity by adding both copper and silver, the metals are melted together and then cooled to solidify into a new 'alloy'. The amount of copper and silver added will determine the actual new Carat that is created. This alloying actually hardens the metal and makes for a much better result when making Jewellery.
Remembering pure Gold is 24 Carat, we take the purity into a percentage scale based on 1000 instead of 100, 24 Carat is 1000%, its usually regarded as 999.9% pure but we will round it up to explain.
If we use the simple multiplication of 10, 100, 1000 we can explain the differences quite easily..
18 Carat is 75% pure Gold with 25% Copper and Silver added.
14 Carat is 58.5% pure Gold with 41.5% Copper and Silver added.
9 Carat is 37.5% pure Gold with 62.5% Copper and Silver added.
This will also explain the markings stamped on Jewellery, 750 is 18 Carat, 585 is 14 Carat, and 375 is 9 Carat going back to our 1000% use. Remembering that each Carat is a percentage of 24.....
24 x 75% is 18, 24 x 58.5% is 14 and so on. It all ties in easily if you read it over again..
It is a world wide scale that is used without variation, the differences found relate to the preferred Carat used in within various cultures. Australia tends to stick with 18 and 9 Carat, occasionally 14 and 10 Carat are found here but generally the first two. The USA will also introduce you to 12 Carat, Asia and the Middle East will use minimum of 18 often using 22 Carat, Germany uses 8 Carat and so on, again the purity of these metals is based on the percentages I have outlined previously. Working back, 24 divided by say 12 will give you 50% or a stamp of 500 on a 12 Carat piece.
WHITE AND ROSE GOLD
The Carat scale works exactly the same here, however when we 'alloy' our YELLOW Gold we substitute the Copper and Silver for metals that dominate the colour. Dropping the percentages of Silver and increasing the Copper results in a ROSE Colour, removing the Copper totally to change the Yellow into a WHITE 'alloy'. Generally Palladium is used but Silver and Nickel can be added to bleach the yellow colour and achieve the desired white. However, the end product can vary and the resultant colour can be a little less than perfect, often leaving a subtle yellow tinge to the white. More commonly an issue with 9 Carat than 18 Carat, the yellowish appearance is always masked with the addition of 'Rhodium Plating' over the ring to give it a brighter, whiter lustre.
'Rhodium' is another metal that has many uses outside the Jewellery industry, however as it is part of the Platinum family and has a beautiful white lustre far superior to White Gold it makes a perfect addition to the Jewellers tools. To Rhodium Plate a White Gold piece requires the piece to be hand polished and submerged into the Rhodium solution, an electric current is then passed through the solution and submerged item. The result is a bonding of Rhodium, dissolved through the solution, onto the piece giving a beautiful lustre that White Gold itself cannot achieve. It must be remembered this is a temporary plating which will wear and require a top up depending on the treatment the Jewellery piece receives. Generally we find a 12 month timeframe is the norm.
Very much becoming the metal of choice for a lot of women, Platinum is a completely unrelated metal to Gold. A much rarer metal Platinum is also naturally white, having a comparable colour to Rhodium, so the need for plating is zero. A less malleable metal than Gold, Platinum pieces are generally hard wearing and will give greater resistance to bending. Platinum used in Jewellery will like gold be 'alloyed' but to a 90% purity, usually it is combined with Iridium. Much harder to work with than Gold due to its higher melting temperature and resistance to bending, Platinum is also a more valuable metal, these combine to make a Platinum piece more costly than Gold.
So the best choice for me ?
Only you can determine that, Platinum gives a better colour than White Gold, is extremely strong, although scratching is still easily done. It is hypoallergenic so less chance of irritations to the skin but is more expensive to buy as a raw metal, it is harder to work with so labour costs can soar and it is denser meaning a heavier piece when finished.
Whether it's Yellow Gold, White Gold, Rose Gold or Platinum you choose, all your pieces need to be treated with respect and regular checks are required to insure repairs are kept to a minimum and issues are found early. Remember something that is on your body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is going to wear away eventually regardless of what metal it is
constructed of, prevention is better than cure I always say.
In finishing, my preferred metal to work with is 18 Carat Yellow Gold, but the current trend is for White metal and will be for some time more I'm sure.
Have you ever wondered how Birthstones and their use in modern day Jewellery eventuated ?
Hopefully I can clear up a few questions you may have had..
Biblical origins ?
Yes indeed, it is thought that the origin was originally attributed to the Breastplate of Aaron, a high priest in the times of Moses, that was described in the book of Exodus in the Bible. Twelve gemstones, thought to have been chipped off the throne of God were set into the Breastplate each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The gems were thought to be set in 4 rows of 3 stones, red jasper, light green serpentine, green feldspar, almandine garnet, lapis lazuli, onyx, brown agate, banded agate, amethyst, yellow jasper, malachite and finally green jasper/jade.
The writings of Flavius Josephus and St Jerome make the connection between the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve stones in the Breastplate of Aaron. As is still thought by many today, the idea was put forward that special powers were connected to each of the gemstones and these were thought to correspond with the astrological signs, the wearing of these stones at the correct astrological time was thought to bring forth talismanic or therapeutic benefits.
However our modern take is a little skewed from these thoughts, as based on the ideas associated with this astrological model, we would need to own all the twelve gemstones and wear them during the appropriate period of each sign. This is closer to the Indian Vedic tradition, in which 9 gemstones are assigned to 9 planets and the wearing of the particular gems is prescribed to an individuals health and current challenges.
Our modern take on gemstones and their use is generally attributed to 18th century Poland and the arrival of Jewish gem merchants. Although the Gemmological Institute of America likes to associate the wearing of gemstones assigned to particular months to 16th century Germany, as in much history the true story may never unfold. What we do know is there is no standard agreement across the worlds cultures on stones and the zodiac links. Many have adopted gemstones to months solely based on what is regionally available.
The National Association of Jewellers in America saw a huge commercial opportunity and set up a definitive birthstone list in 1912, which to those taking notice will have already expected, bore little connection with Aarons breastplate. Just three of the original stones remain, amethyst, onyx and topaz, as is the modern worlds way the list was again updated somewhat in the 1930's.
Getting married ?
You will need a Wedding Ring then, right ?
Apparently so, but why ? Where does the tradition of exchanging Wedding Rings originate ? Read on……
The history of Wedding Rings is somewhat clouded and for something so steeped in relevance it’s unusual not to have more evidence on the evolution of the tradition, however it would appear the first examples were found in ancient Egypt. Discoveries dating as far back as 3,000-4,000 years ago, show us depictions of braided rings of hemp or reeds being exchanged between couples in what appears to be Wedding ceremonies, this later was to evolve into leather and bone and many bands have been discovered on their wearer remains. Ancient Egyptians viewed the circle as a symbol of lasting eternity, with no beginning or end, thus giving an unbroken ring was signification of the never-ending love between a couple embarking on a married life together. The Egyptians also believed the ‘ring finger’ on the left hand had a vein that was connected directly to the heart, so began the practice of wearing the newly received band on that particular finger, although many cultures of the ancient and modern day do not follow that tradition.
This tradition was however adopted by the Greeks after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC. The ancient Greeks wore plain bands that were usually made of iron, although it is thought the more wealthy in society may have worn far more expensive metals like copper, silver or gold, they were commonly known as betrothal rings and were given before marriage, a precursor to the Engagement Ring perhaps. The Romans put their own spin onto the growing tradition and like the Egyptians before them, gave the bands at the wedding ceremony, however it is thought that the practice was less a symbol of everlasting love and more a symbol of ownership. Unsurprisingly women of this era really had no rights when it came to marriage, they had no say in whom they married and proposals were not in existence. An interested man would show a good gesture to the father, basically buying his daughters hand in marriage and the two would be wed. At this point, a wedding ring was placed on the woman’s hand to signify a binding, legal agreement.
It is thought that it was not until around 860 that Christians started to use the ring in marriage ceremonies, and then it was not the plain ring that comes to symbolize the wedding band, but a highly decorated piece engraved with figures of doves, lyres and occasionally two linked hands. Such a garish symbol was not given a hearty reception by the Church, and for a long time its use was discouraged, although never totally dismissed. By the 13th century there had been a considerable simplification of the wedding band and consequentially a greater acceptance by the Church.
To modern day, many variations now exist both culturally and visually in what constitutes a Wedding Ring and the correct procedure in both acquiring and wearing the band. Many religious factors determine what finger and/or hand is used, in some parts of India, Hindus will use a bichiya or toe ring which is worn instead of a ring on a finger; although this is only for women, and it is increasingly being worn along with a finger ring. Males wearing a Wedding Ring has been a considerably recent development in Western culture and is thought to have flourished during the late 1930’s as the soldiers sent to War and wanted a band to remind them of their wives at home. It is thought that prior to this period only 15% of married men wore bands compared to 80% post 1940’s. That figure I’m sure is now higher, with my own clients running at almost 100% I would imagine, very rarely do I not make both Male and Female Wedding bands for a couple.
So back to the beginning of this piece, it seems you will be needing a Wedding Band afterall, congratulations you have come to the right place. No need to settle for a premade, predetermined Wedding Ring, when you custom make, you have choice, you can have input, we can design something unique, something you will treasure forever. Buying off the shelf restricts you in so many ways, rarely do you find something that truly matches your Engagement ring, as band profile, band thickness, band curvature, diamond size are all important aspects of matching 2 rings together, this is where I can help.
An obligation free design consultation is only a phone call or an email away, we sit down, discuss what you would like, talk through options on what would suit your Engagement Ring and discuss budget. To further help your budget and give you something truly special I can utilize materials you may already have, recycling old Jewellery into new…Imagine your Mums or Grandma’s old pieces melted and remade into your Wedding Ring, it really doesn’t get more personal than that.
Creating something truly memorable is possible when you get your Wedding Rings personally made for you, don’t settle for what you are told to have by the retails shops, have what you want, your Wedding Rings are the only thing from your Wedding Day that stays with you constantly, make them really special.