Posts in Commissions
Cairngorm Quartz Engagement Ring - Commission Feature

9ct White Gold Cairngorm Quartz Engagement Ring

Last year, I was commissioned to make this gorgeous 9ct White Gold, Cairngorm Quartz Engagement Ring.  My client wanted an elegant ring with a Scottish/English theme, perhaps using some Scottish and English stones to represent where the couple are respectively from. I love commissions, especially engagement rings and stone set pieces as they take me out of my comfort zone and give me a chance to practice my stone setting skills. This ring was particularly interesting as I ended up learning a lot about gemstones and got to meet my suppliers in person, which was lovely.


After an initial discussion with my client, I made up some mood boards and sent a few sketches via email, to give an idea of how styles and colours would sit and began looking into the different types of stones available. It was important to use gemstones that we could trace back to Scotland in England.  We found Scottish Amethysts, Cairngorm Quartz, Elie Garnets as well as Tayside Agate but didn't have much luck with English stones. We thought about Hematite or Whitby Jet and found out that the Middle of England is apparently famous for Fluorite, but decided that these weren’t quite right for an engagement ring.

Map of Precious Scotland by Holyrood Partnership & Alistir Wood Tait.

In the end, the client decided on Cairngorm Quartz. Cairngorm is the traditional name given to  Scotland's national gem: quartz from the mountainous regions of Scotland.  Cairngorm Quartz has been well documented from the medieval period onwards and was considered to be a sacred stone. A quartz crystal was owned by many Highland clans, the gem was seen as talisman holding magical, healing properties.  We decided on the Cairngorm Quartz since it is found here in Scotland and available in a wonderful range of earthy “Scottish” tones which are all completely natural. I was also able to source Cairngorm Quartz locally rather than online, from suppliers who found the raw stone themselves, meaning there as full traceability from stone to supplier.


I managed to source a 6mm round Cairngorm Quartz from a supplier in Edinburgh- a beautiful Smokey Quartz with grey/brown hues, found by the suppliers themselves from Highland Perthshire.  Originally we wanted three round stones but struggled to find the right size, so to sit alongside large round quartz, I sourced two gorgeous, smaller oval quartz from a lovely supplier in Fife, who again had found the raw stone himself in the highlands of Scotlands. The smaller stones were a clearer quartz, with champagne hues which reflected the light beautifully. 

The finished ring

To complement the stones we went for a classy, elegant 9ct White Gold band and setting with a bit of a vintage feel. Something simple which would show off the Quartz. Since we didn’t manage to tie in the Scotland/England theme with the stones I tracked down a wonderful vintage ring box from a jewellery shop which was around in Leeds in the 1920s, a nod to where the couple now live together.

I love the way the stones reflect the light, the colours and the hues are forever changing. The white gold band has been left it’s natural colour rather than rhodium plated which I think looks lovely and ties in well with the earthy tones of the Quartz.


Not only was this an interesting commission in terms of learning about stones, it was also, probably one of the biggest secrets I have had to keep. The ring was made for one of my best friends, who said yes by the way, and I can’t wait to make the wedding rings this year!

How To: Commission a Piece of Jewellery

 9ct White Gold Wedding Rings

9ct White Gold Wedding Rings

Commission a Bespoke Piece of Jewellery


Jewellers (and other makers, artists and designer) often talk about ‘commissions’, but what does this actually mean?  For me, working to commission means that I work with customers to create bespoke, custom and unique jewellery pieces. Think of it as a collaboration between you and the designer. It allows you to have some input into the design of the piece and become part of the making process.  

So...have you ever thought about commissioning a special piece of jewellery but aren’t sure how to start?  Here are some top tips to help you achieve your dream design…

First things first, what do you want to make?  
Although I can work with you to figure out exactly what you’d like, commissioning works best when you  already have an idea. Think about who the jewellery is for.  What do they like? What do they wear? Do they have any interests or hobbies you’d like to incorporate into the design?  Is it for a special occasion? Do you have a preference for the type of metal or stones in the design?  The more information you can give the designer the better.

 NYC Commission using clients own photos.

NYC Commission using clients own photos.


Get to know the designer.
You want to choose the right designer who can turn your idea into something tangible.  Get to know their work and choose a designer whose style you like. Many designers like to add their own influence into commissioned pieces so let them know if there are elements of their own designs you’d like to include in the piece. Make sure the designer you choose will take on commissions, if you’re not sure just send them an email - most jewellers will be happy to help and even if they won’t do the work themselves they may pass you on to somebody who will.

Ask how the designer works and make sure you feel comfortable with their commission process. I like to have an initial consultation via email, phone or in person. After this I ask for a £50 design fee and once the design is confirmed I will take a 50% deposit and begin making your piece. I will keep you up to date with the making of your piece via email. Ask the designer what their process is, if they provide sketches, how they will make sure the piece fits and anything else you can think of. Knowing the answers to all of these questions at the beginning will leave you feeling confident at every stage.


Have a budget in mind.
If you are commissioning a piece of handmade jewellery it is important to value the time and effort they put into making your bespoke piece. When a designer prices a commission they take a lot into consideration. As well as designing and making your piece they will have to think about fluctuation of the price of precious metals, any hallmarking fees and the overheads that come with running a small jewellery business. Give your designer a budget as early as possible, if you are unsure what your budget will cover, don’t be afraid to ask, many pieces can be designed and altered to suit your needs by using different metals or stones. I work closely with my customers to ensure that I can create a beautiful piece that is within their budget. If you are looking for a bargain or just want the best price then a commissioned piece of jewellery is probably not for you. Most commissioned pieces are custom made and completely unique. Be realistic with your budget and never expect a designer to lower their commission price.

Work To a Deadline.
It is likely that you are commissioning a piece of jewellery as a gift for someone special. If this is the case and you will need the piece for a specific date let your designer know as soon as possible.  Be aware that designers can often have large workloads and the time it takes to complete a commission varies from piece to piece. It can take from 3-10 weeks to design and create from the first consultation to delivery, depending on the complexity of the design.

Be prepared, think ahead and have a deadline to ensure you get your pieces in time for all of those special occasions.

 9ct White Gold Cairngorm Engagement Ring.jpg

9ct White Gold Cairngorm Engagement Ring.jpg

 Silver & Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring

Silver & Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring

I hope you find these tips are helpful and now feel confident when commissioning a bespoke piece of jewellery.

Alongside my collections I do provide a commission service and can update any existing designs in another metal or to suit your style. Take a look at my commissions gallery and get in touch to chat about how we can make your perfect piece of jewellery.