A guide to commissioning a bespoke piece of jewellery

How To Commission A Bespoke Piece Of Jewellery


With over 40 years of experience in the jewellery trade I thought that this insight in to the process of commissioning a custom piece of jewellery maybe of interest to jewellery fans who have thought about doing this but were not sure how to go about it. You may have inherited some jewellery that you do not wear because it is not fashionable or your style or would like something unusual that you cannot get in high street shops. This is an opportunity to have something made that fits with your style that sets you apart from the crowd.  

Different jewellery designers will have slightly different ways of working. I have listed a general outline of how it should work:


Commissioning a piece of jewellery


To start off with it is best to do your research to find the right person to work with. Not all designers are happy to do commissions’. Some may not be used to making custom jewellery to order, they might only like to make their own collections and could find it hard to make jewellery in different styles using materials and techniques they have not used before. So, it is best to find a jeweller that has a lot of experience in the sought of work you want and after looking at their portfolio of previous designs you like their style. Once you have found someone you would like to work with you should contact them to make sure that they are not too busy to make your piece. 




Commission the Designer


When you have decided to commission the designer, you need to understand that are very specialised in their skill sets and often will be individual or a small team so they tend to be very busy people, so you need to take into account the time they spend with you and also the time spent using their network of people to source specific stones and materials to make your piece. You need to inform them of the date that it is needed by so they will have enough time to complete the work.


Now for the process of commissioning your jewellery timescale,  design, budget / cost


The first stage is to contact the jeweller either by email or phone to make sure that they are able to take on the commission and create your unique piece of jewellery. At this initial stage there is a lot of information for the designer to find out as you begin to work together. Vague questions like “I would like to have an 18ct diamond ring made how much would it cost?” should not be asked.

It will take time to get a quote. Firstly, the designer will need to know the design along with the materials, stones and metal that will be needed to make it. To start with they will need a budget and time scale to work to. You will need to be realistic about your expectations with regards to what you hope to achieve with your budget. Most designs can be made to fit in to various price ranges by changing stones or their quality and the same goes will the different metals. If you are driven by price alone you are probably better of just buying a readymade of the shelf piece from a high street shop. Also, as far as copying images from high end jewellery websites and asking the designer to copy it for less money is illegal as these pieces are normally copywritten.  These companies may have already spent a lot of money making the patterns so to make it as a one of piece may not work out any cheaper. This being said there is no reason that you could not use an image as an influence to start a design by using some of the elements as a starting point.


Different types of commissions


  • You already have a design and you need it made
  • You have old pieces of jewellery that you want remodelled 
  • You have some ideas that you want to work with the designer to make your vision a reality 

The initial consultation which can take place in person or by skype where you will discuss the project in more depth so that you are happy that the designer knows what you want, how much your budget is and when you need it buy.  At this point some jewellers may ask for a design fee. The next meeting the designer will be able to tell you what is possible, have sample of stones if needed and either designer’s drawings, cad images (computer aided design) or models. Once you have agreed to go ahead with the commission the jeweller will normally ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit because from this point on they will be buying materials and spending time working on this project which will be unique to your requirements. Next stage the designer will start work if the project is very large and difficult they may contact you further if not then next time they contact you it will be to collect or to arrange delivery of your finished piece.  


I hope this article has been helpful and of interest. With many years’ experience in this field please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any help to. 


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