How do I write a bespoke jewellery brief?

Have you been watching the new competition style jewellery show on BBC 2, All That GlittersIf so, you’ll have seen the Bespoke challenge. This is where a client comes in with a bespoke jewellery brief and asks for something special to be made as a (usually) surprise gift for them to give to a loved one or friend.

So how do you, as a client, write a brief for a jeweller, like me, that will get you what you want?! This is a large part of what I do for my clients on a daily basis so let me guide you through the process. By the end of this you’ll know exactly what you need to say to get something really exceptional and unique.

Start with the basics

Let’s start with the basics that will help me get an overview.

  • What is your budget? Even a ballpark figure will help me guide you to something in your price range and will help me narrow down metal options.
  • What metals do you (or the person you’re buying for) like? Yellow metals, white metals, mixed colours, responsibly sourced, Fairtrade, Fairmined? Or maybe you have some jewellery you’d like to have recycled?
  • Ethics – Do you want to use only recycled materials, or are you happy paying a bit more for Fairtrade gold or Fairmined silver?
  • Stones? Colours of stones and/or what % of the budget should be used for stones?
  • Finishes? (Have a look through my previous work to look at different finishes on jewellery and pick out some you like. For example hammered or satinised texture, oxidised(black) silver.)
  • Timescale – when is the event?
  • Size, if a ring or bangle, be exacting if possible or ask for help getting a size.
  • Is it for everyday wear or occasional? Some people can’t wear anything other than simple jewellery while at work. Some don’t want jewellery that makes noise. Whereas others might want a more statement/bold jewellery for everyday wear. 

Now, with all of that we have a lot to work with already!

Textures from left to right, satinised, hammered, brushed, polished

Finishes from left to right, satinised, hammered, brushed, polished.

 

Get personal

Let’s dive deeper into what will make this piece of jewellery super personal. Usually only a few things about the person will be picked out to be used, but do put everything down for your own reference first. It can help to put all of this together on an app like Pinterest which is very visual and will help your jeweller build a picture of the person.

  • The person’s likes and dislikes. Architecture, Travel, Animals, Theatre, the art deco era, the colour green, interior design.
  • Where do they shop for clothes or what do they like to wear?
  • A significant place from their life; like hometown, where they went to uni, college or spent their formative years. First job or home. Where do they love going on holiday? Where they met you?
  • Style – what kind of jewellery does the person like? Do they like landscape jewellery? Simple jewellery? Contemporary?
  • Hobbies; knitting, hiking, climbing, SUP, playing the obe, writing, reading Nordic crime, baking, mountain biking, trail running, ultra marathons, wild swimming, writing plays, producing radio shows, horse riding.
  • Musical tastes?
  • Do they have children or grandchildren? If so, how many? (This could lead to using initials, birthstones or a repeated pattern to represent them)

If you’re still struggling with this, then think about anything they talk about often or do on a regular basis. 

 

Hiking up Etive Mor

Hiking up mountains like Etive Mor?

Pulling it together

Once you’ve got a long list of these personal features pull out 5 or more things that are really important and you think really capture the essence of that person. This can form the basis of your bespoke jewellery brief and you’ll know best what they really like and would love included. If you’re struggling to narrow it down, then arrange a call to go through your brief with me. I’d be happy to help!

Once you’ve got your Pinterest board and/or a list of basic and personalised information you’re ready and you might even have more of an idea of how you see the bespoke piece looking already!

 

How to find a jeweller you want to work with.

Try not to contact someone only because you know they’re a jeweller. Take a look at their portfolio of previous work, do they make pieces that you like? Have they made something similar to what you’re asking for? Do you like what they make? Do they work in the metals you want to use?  Look on their Website or social media for a gallery of past commissions. If you’re not sure then send your brief and check to see if it’s the kind of commission they’d be interested in.

You wouldn’t go to a radiologist if you needed to see a surgeon.

It’s a similar idea, all jewellers have started in a similar place and level of skill but we all have our own specialities. I, for example, don’t make eternity rings so don’t ask me about a completely stone encrusted ring! If I can’t help you, I might be able to point you in the direction of someone perfect for the job. The jewellery world is very small so a lot of us know each other!

Do bear in mind that a jeweller’s own personal style will come through in the bespoke piece too, whatever I make will always look like a Jen Cunningham piece!

Don’t ask a jeweller to copy something you’ve seen on the internet. It’s bad practice for a jeweller to copy another’s work and most will politely refuse. Contact the jeweller of the work and ask if they work to commission. It’s okay to use other work for inspiration.

The finished brief

The finished bespoke jewellery brief from above might be something like this: 

I’d like a gift for my friend Jen for her birthday which is at the end of December. I’m looking to spend around £400 – £600 on a bangle or maybe a necklace. I would love to add a small diamond to represent her dog if my budget allows. Jen likes white metals like silver, some of her jewellery has a little bit of gold in it too though.

She loves going to Arran on holiday and being by the sea. She wears simple pendants on a chain and I’ve seen her wear bangles too, so I know she likes them. Jen always wears contrasting colours like black and white, so I think she’d like the oxidised and polished finishes I’ve seen you use on your previous jewellery.

She also loves knitting, reading and is conscious of the environment so would like to use recycled or Fairmined metal if possible please.

Now you’re ready to write your own!

There you have it! A bespoke jewellery brief that will help you communicate a story about the person to help the jeweller of your choice make a beautiful bespoke piece for you.

I hope you’ve found this helpful and if you’re thinking of commissioning something then do send me an email.


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