When my husband finally worked out that I was the only girl for him, he always knew I’d be a problem. I’d made my views on engagement rings pretty clear, as most clever girls do. It had to be different from anything else and should not, under any circumstances, feature diamonds! Great, he thought, a huge relief for his wallet, but with such a unique (some may argue fussy) girlfriend, what was a guy to do?
At the time the only jewellery I wore was costume and the bigger the better, I had no education in fine jewellery and diamonds to me felt overexposed and overused. Thankfully he did the sensible thing and proposed with a costume ring, allowing me the opportunity to design my own engagement band. This was still fraught with problems as I had no idea what I wanted, I just knew what I didn’t like and to try to research alternative options was difficult and restrictive. Help was needed!
In stepped Julia Williams of Diamondology. The diamond expert, diamond whisperer and head of the diamond mafia! Ok so the obvious diamond connection here may not be the most convincing start, but Julia and her team offer a very special service at Diamondology for very unique requests. They aren't there to sell you their rings, they’re there to listen to your story and bring that story to life.
“The story is key to us. Find us a story and we’ll tell it.”
They have the contacts and experience to source the right craftsmen for the job in hand. From a wealth of designers to wax carvers, those making the ring and sourcing the right stones - they have the rolodex to make gem lovers swoon! Their service goes so far beyond that of your usual high street jeweller so that you could almost classify their service as jewellery consultancy.
Julia counts men’s wedding rings as the most adventurous trend they are experiencing at the moment. Far from the plain metal band of times gone by, European men are introducing a trend for more pizazz and bling on their rings. They are now highly embellished with diamonds and gemstones, ensuring that it isn't only the bride that commands attention on the big day.
Personalisation is another strong theme Diamondology have encountered and not just your traditional sentimental inscription. Julia and her team have inscribed GPS co-ordinates of where couples met, set birth stones on the inside of rings, binary, or moulded gold from two families alongside each other within the inner ring.
After several discussions and with some sketches from her team and designs from myself, I was overjoyed when I finally received my engagement ring with a large cabochon sapphire and some small, but completely inoffensive diamonds!! The ring was so striking that we decided to forgo a wedding band, the engagement ring more than speaking for itself.
Diamondology may have helped me in my hour of need, but they aren't the only business offering something a little different.
At the end Jersey’s high street is Aurum Jewellers, a family owned jewellers established in 1968. You would be forgiven for thinking this was just another high street shop, selling more traditional and commercial pieces, but above the shop facade is the hub of Aurum creativity and the workshop of the business led by Head Designer Alexa Blampied.
Beautiful mood boards adorn her office, inspiring her more commercial collections that are produced for the shop below and showcasing separate commissioned pieces that are much more unusual and unique.
Alexa and her team are very willing to accept challenges when it comes to fulfilling unique jewellery requests and she explains that this is one of the most exciting parts of her role.
Unmistakably of Jersey heritage, Alexa and the business revel in showcasing Jersey through their designs, one way in which they achieve this is the incorporation of Jersey granite. One customer approached the business looking to combine stones from two different cultures for an engagement ring, resulting in a terrific combination of New Zealand jadeite and polished granite. Alexa describes the piece as “understated, but remarkable” and for the bride it held huge sentimental value as well as simple aesthetic beauty.
Many of Aurum's commissions includes re-designing old rings and incorporating stones from heirloom jewellery into new rings. I was given a crash course education on the development of stones and cuts throughout the years, so that you can tell a ring's age from its appearance. A vintage ring would therefore be hard to replicate in todays workshops because the cut of stones have become cleaner and more precise. But this is exactly what makes vintage pieces rare and highly coveted!
There are also pieces on the shop floor to inspire the more alternative browser. Assistant Manager Andre Fortunato led through an array of gemstones from pink sapphires to black diamonds and perhaps the most beautiful in my opinion were the incorporation of diamond slices in their collections. Thinly cut and very lightly faceted, they showcase the inclusions rather than hide them as faults and are truly beautiful and unusual.
Aurum will be showing their new collection towards the end of this year which was clouded in secrecy when we met, but I will be first in line to see the end result!
It's clear that there's a lot of talent in the jewellery market in Jersey to be had by the alternative bride, or equally her husband to be! All that is needed is to ask the right questions of the right people. Don't be afraid to voice your opinions and be a bit different, stand out from the crowd. Let your story be heard and you'll have a ring to treasure for all time.