How to commission a piece of jewellery

How to commission a piece of jewellery

Sue Lane
6 minute read

Commissioning a piece of jewellery is a really enjoyable process. I thought it might be helpful to take you though the steps I took with this recent commission to help explain my process. - Sue.

Clients will often get in touch because they have seen my website and keep returning to it - "there's something about your designs that keeps drawing me back" a recent client commented. Sometimes, clients have quite an open mind  about the design and other times they have very clear ideas. 

The start of a commission

With the following commission, a conversation began with my client considering a reworking of an existing pendant into a combination of some rings she loved from my website, particularly this platinum and diamond ring and this emerald ring.

An initial Zoom call identified it would be best to use my clients diamonds, but use new platinum and gold, and a new emerald stone. I did some sketches and several emails were exchanged, each time refining the design. Clients are more than welcome to visit the studio, or I can meet up in London, but booking a Zoom or FaceTime chat is a great way to work through the initial steps. 

The first image below shows my original sketch of how the stones could be set.

The second image demonstrates the scale of the diamond and sapphire to my client.

The third image enabled my client to choose her preferred sapphire out of the three that I source for her. They all varied in price, colour and clarity. She chose the emerald shown on the right of the three.

Choosing the stone

I also emailed the following video of the three emeralds out of their settings to help my client get a feel for their individual qualities. I would not show a client any stone that I didn't love myself. I want all stones to be beautiful, well cut and as unique as the budget allows. All three emeralds here were just wonderful.

Getting the size right

The next stage is making a mock up silver ring in the band width and finger size we are planning and post to the client. This is an invaluable way of ensuring the client is 100% happy with the weight and feel of the rings and to avoid resizing the ring later. There is nothing more disappointing for me or the client if the ring arrives and is the wrong size after often months of planning. Sometimes we have to send the samples back and forth several times but it is worth it to ensure the finger size is perfect in hot and cold climates, and at all times of the day.

Making the commission

Once I get the "yes they fit perfectly" email, I am good to get started and actually make the commission. In the case above I made the two platinum bands and yellow gold settings before going back to the client to confirm the positioning of the emerald to the diamond. The following image shows the emerald pointing to the left or right of the diamond and also shown seated to the left of the diamond. You will see below which she later on the page!

Hallmarking your commission

Each piece has to be sent away to the Assay Office to be hallmarked, whereby they check every piece is as described and then stamp a set of official hallmarks inside, including my own personal mark. 

The final stages

Once back from the Assay Office, I go back to the bench to work further on the piece, eventually working on the final polished finish the client requested. At this point, every piece is photographed and I add images to the invoice and send it to the client so they can see the piece before making the final payment across. 

Getting your commission to you

This client, like the majority, lives many miles away, so each piece is carefully packaged so it can be posted safely. All postage is free and includes insurance to cover the full value of the piece. I always chat to clients at this stage and agree a delivery date so they can be at home to sign for the parcel. Sometimes, clients visit the studio to collect or I can hand it over in person on one of my regular London trips.

Customer feedback 

Here are images of the finished ring commission in the example above. Fortunately she was delighted with the piece which arrived just in time for her big birthday.

Hi Sue,
I just wanted to say a huge and slightly belated thank you. I love love love the rings and I’m so glad I went with a new emerald. I’m away at the moment and everyone's commenting on them. Thanks again, JC

Here's an image of the finished commission being worn by my client on holiday. Perfect!

It's always lovely to receive feedback from clients, and I'm pleased to say that I've had many happy customers of the years. You can view my customer feedback page here.

And finally...

Hopefully this helps give you an understanding of my jewellery commissioning process and also why commissioning a piece of jewellery can take several months. Even sourcing a selection of stones can take several weeks. I normally say to clients that from the point we have confirmed all the details, we know the finger size is correct and you have chosen the stone, it can be between 6-10 weeks to make the piece depending on my work load.

If you would like to commission me to make a piece of jewellery for you please do just get in touch. You can also view previous commissions or browse my collections to get some ideas of what you would like me to create. Sue.

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