How To: Commission A Piece Of Jewellery
Jewellers (alongside other makers, artists and designer) often talk about ‘commissions,’ but what does this mean? For me, working to commission means working with clients to design bespoke, personalised and unique jewellery. Think of it as a collaboration between you and the designer. Commissioning your own jewellery allows you to chose how much input you have into the design of the piece and means you get to be part of the making process.
So, have you ever thought about commissioning something special, but aren’t sure how to start? Here are some tips to help you turn your dream design into a beautiful piece of jewellery…
First things first, what do you want to make?
Whether it's an anniversary gift, wedding rings or a treat for yourself, I can work with you to figure out exactly what you’d like, however, commissions work best when you already have an idea. Think about who the item is for. Do they have a distinguishable style? Do they have any interests or hobbies you’d like to include in the design? Is it going to be a gift, is it for a special occasion? Do you have a preference for the type of metal or stones you'd like to use in the design? The more information you can give the designer the better.
Get to know the designer.
You want to make sure you choose the right designer for your commission. Choose a designer whose style you admire and get to know their work. Many designers like to add their own influence and flair into commissions, let your designer know if there are elements from their own designs that you love and would like to incorporate into your piece.
Ask how the designer works and make sure you feel comfortable with their commission process. I like to have an initial consultation with clients, via email, phone or in person, to discuss ideas, budget, design ideas and desired outcome. Following our discussion, I usually ask for a £45 design fee (waived for simpler designs), this allows me to spend time planning and designing the piece. I'll then send the client a design sheet, and once we have confirmed the final design, I take a 50% deposit before I start making. The final payment is made on completion of the commission. I like to keep clients up to date with their commission via email, letting them know the timeline and sometimes sharing photos of the making process.
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.
When commissioning a piece of handcrafted jewellery, it's important to value the time and effort (and often blood, sweat and tears) that the designer puts into designing and making your jewellery. They are making this especially for you and have put a considerable amount of thought into every detail.
When a designer prices a commission they take a lot into consideration. As well as the time spent designing and making, a designer will have to think about the fluctuation in the price of precious metals, any hallmarking fees as well as the overheads that come with running a small 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 or altered to suit your budget by using different metals or stones. I work closely with my clients to ensure that I can create a beautiful piece that is within their budget.
If you are looking for a bargain, a commissioned piece of jewellery is probably not for you. You can try looking at designers ready-made collections for something a little less expensive than a commissioned piece or keep an eye out for sales and offers.
Remember, with a commission you're receiving a handcrafted item that has been designed and custom made especially for you. Be realistic with your budget and never expect a designer to lower their commission price.
Work To a Deadline
It's likely that you're commissioning a piece of jewellery as a gift for someone special. If you need the commission for a specific date, it's important to 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.
I hope you find these tips are helpful and now feel confident when commissioning a bespoke piece of jewellery.
Alongside my collections, I provide a commission service and can update any existing designs to suit your style. Take a look at my commission's gallery and get in touch to chat about how we can make your perfect piece of jewellery.