Thursday, 24 January 2013

Wedding Jewellery

Wedding jewellery means different things to different people. The meaning or purpose behind each piece of jewellery might be different to the Bride, to the Groom, to the Bridesmaids, to the shop assistant, to the designer and so on.

I started to write this blog post when I was getting ready to get married last year. The writing of it fell by the wayside as the wedding drew nearer and I have only just picked up writing it again. I am quite glad of this however because I can now tell you all about my wedding jewellery experience and what I have learnt from it - the differences between what the designer thinks and what the bride thinks.

Brides. For some wedding jewellery is the chance to add a bit of/bit more bling to their outfit, for others it's an opportunity to add a splash of colour, some brides prefer to have some meaning to their baubles and maybe for some it's a chance to do all three! But that isn't where their options/meaning/opportunities etc. end. Wedding jewellery means something different to each and every bride.

Jewellery designers. This is a designer's chance to design something really special, something that the bride/groom/bridesmaids/best man/ushers etc. will cherish, admire and keep forever.

In my research I have found that most brides want plain wedding bands and simple, elegant bridal jewellery. Most brides don't want the jewellery to be the star of the show because, of course, it is the bride who is the star of the show. Wedding jewellery for men tends to be anything they would normally wear such as a chain, a watch and perhaps cufflinks (shirt allowing) and of course the wedding band.

I have been to about 10 weddings and I can honestly say (no offence intended to those in the bridal parties) that I cannot remember anything about the jewellery the bride/groom/bridesmaids/best man/ushers wore. That's not to say that the jewellery they were wearing wasn't beautiful or even that I didn't comment on it because I probably did! Maybe it's because I am a jeweller that I focus on other things at weddings like the cake, I love a beautiful cake! Maybe it's because these brides and grooms have all chosen their jewellery so well that it became part of their overall outfit/look instead of being a separate item.

Dundee based jeweller Genna Delaney makes beautifully elegant wedding jewellery with pearls. Genna's main range of jewellery is very different from her wedding jewellery, a lot of it includes chunky stones, coloured acrylic and textured metal. Genna has captured the wedding jewellery market perfectly with these floaty, classic pieces.

Genna Delaney. 3 Strand Pearl Necklace.
Genna Delaney. Single Chain Pearl Drop Earrings.

For my own wedding I travelled up to Scotland with nothing made and horrified everyone by making a necklace at aisle minus 2 hours. I was fortunate enough to have an antique charm bracelet that my grandad bought me that I knew I was going to wear so I only had a necklace and earrings to make. The earrings problem was solved by my bridesmaid Zoe and her fiance, Chris, giving me a belated birthday present of some beautiful red glass earrings. I then designed and made a simple pearl and crystal necklace incorporating parts taken out of a bracelet (that was too big) that my gran had given me for my 21st Birthday.

My wedding jewellery.
My antique charm bracelet.

I made my maid of honour and my two bridesmaids little personalised charm bracelets with different coloured semi precious stones and silver charms with their names letter stamped on.

I had wanted to wear a signature Ruth Gordon Jewellery bright red coral necklace to match my petticoat, sash and shoes. I decided against this thinking that less was probably more in this case. 

Bright red coral - perfect for weddings?

I realised after my wedding that every piece of jewellery I wore had meaning and sentimental value to it. The necklace and bracelet had reminders of my grandparents, my earrings were given to me by my dear friends and my ring was made by my husband.

My new husband had on the ring I made him and my mum was even sporting some Ruth Gordon Jewellery earrings. We were all wearing jewellery that we enjoyed wearing, that meant something to us and that looked good.

I won't get into the theory suggesting that many jewellers prefer only to wear jewellery for sentimental value at the moment as that is another blog post in the pipeline!

I should probably mention the most important and special part of the wedding jewellery - the rings. Doug and I decided to make our own rings. I would make his and I would guide him through making mine. It was great fun and I would recommend doing this to other engaged couples. It made the ring giving and receiving that little bit more special. I also found out that Doug has a natural talent with metal. We made the rings in palladium to match my engagement ring, a material which I hadn't used before and therefore I had a bit of a struggle to get to terms with how the solder reacts to heat. I really enjoyed working with the palladium once I got the hang of it, it is quite a forgiving metal and it has the benefit of being cheaper the plantinum and gold. I hope to work with it again and would encourage other couples to investigate it as a great alternative to the traditional metals.

Doug putting flux onto my palladium wedding band
Ruth Gordon Jewellery soldering Doug's palladium wedding band

Several jewellers are now offering a 'Make your own wedding ring' service and I would really encourage this as a lovely way to do something together that makes the wedding day even more special. In Edinburgh Donna Barry and Hannah Louise Lamb have set up a company called Make Your Own Wedding Rings where they invite couples to come into their workshop and are taken through the making process, step-by-step. During the day the jewellers will also take photos and the couple get a CD of images. Not only do you get your handmade wedding bands you get a lovely keepsake of the documented making process.

In Leicestershire, Kate Bajic is offering a Make Your Own Wedding Rings workshop. Along with the personal tuition of a professional jeweller, couples receive photographs as a memento of the day.

Both workshops are priced at under £300 for the tuition and use of all tools plus the expertise and advice of the jewellers. The cost of raw materials and hallmarking is additional. I think these are brilliantly priced for such a wonderful experience. After all you are exchanging rings as a symbol of your love and you will wear them forever! 

Men's jewellery is always hard especially as I don't currently make male jewellery and my husband doesn't wear any jewellery apart from his wedding band. I had previously made some cufflinks as a wedding commission (see the blog post here and photo below) and would like to make more. They are a lovely thank you present for the best man and ushers and, of course, for the groom. 

Barker/Kirby cufflink commission

As a jewellery designer I can appreciate beautiful jewellery not only for its aesthetic appeal but also because I know what has gone into making it. I feel with the rise of craft and design in Britain today more and more people are understanding this, which is great. More people want something really special when they buy a piece of jewellery, whether it be for their wedding or an everyday occasion.

I am currently very drawn towards the work of Hannah Louise Lamb. I love her Coast- and Skyline ranges and I think they fit into this post about wedding jewellery perfectly. Last year I saw in one of Hannah's Facebook posts that she had made a pair of wedding bands for a couple who were from two very different cities and wanted this incorporated into their rings. The groom had the skyline of his wife's home city of Prague on his band and the bride had the skyline of her husband's home city of Edinburgh on hers. I think this is a beautiful idea.

Hannah Louise Lamb. Skyline Wedding Bands
Hannah also makes Coastline jewellery which is utterly gorgeous and a perfect way to incorporate that special place into a piece of jewellery. Again going back to my personal experience, coastlines are quite special to me. I got engaged on a beach in Wales, married on the banks on a Scottish loch and spent every summer of my childhood on the beach on the Mainland of the Orkney Isles. I could think of many stretches of coast that I'd love to have on a ring or a brooch or have put on some cufflinks for Doug.

Hannah Louise Lamb. Coastline Rings.
I think Hannah's work lends itself beautifully to wedding jewellery and her Coast- and Skyline rings make unique wedding bands that are meaningful and stylish.

The happy couple. Not a red necklace in sight.

1 comment:

Diamond Jewellery Online said...

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