• Kate Seow

How Much Does Bespoke Jewellery Cost?

As you can probably guess, it depends! However, knowing some of the factors that go into pricing bespoke jewellery can help to take some of the guesswork out of it.

Material Costs

Let's start with the obvious: what the jewellery is made from plays a big factor in the cost of the piece. Silver is the least expensive of the precious metals and can be a cost effective option (it is considerably less expensive than gold). With smaller items, the cost of labour is more likely to be the determining factor (see below), but material costs add up when large, chunky pieces are being considered.

Gold comes in a variety of colours and carats: 9ct, 18ct, 22ct, yellow, white, red... The higher the carat, the higher the gold content, therefore the higher the price. Likewise, white gold is generally more expensive than yellow or red gold. Some ways of reducing the cost whilst still including gold in the design are to:

  • create the piece in another metal such as silver and then gold plate it

  • create a mixed-metal piece, for example a silver ring band with a gold gemstone setting

  • use a technique such as Keum Boo which adds gold leaf features to a silver piece

Another factor to consider with gold is that its price can fluctuate quite a bit. It's particularly sensitive to World events, so in general expect the price of gold to go up when there is uncertainty or unrest. For this reason, I honour quotes involving gold for 14 days, after which I need to re-quote. You can see the current price of gold here (note: this is not the price I pay to my bullion dealer - they refine and process the gold which incurs additional costs).

Gemstones introduce another cost that can vary greatly. The two main factors that govern a gemstone's price are its size and quality. Size is quite straightforward - it's usually measured in carats which is a weight measurement (1 carat = 0.2 grams), although dimensions (length, width etc.) are more useful in the context of design; the larger the stone, the more it will cost. The quality of the gemstone depends on a number of factors, however:

  • clarity, i.e. how see-through the gemstone is. The more visible inclusions, the less it will cost

  • intensity of colour - this is very subjective, but in general there is a sweet spot between too light and too dark

  • quality of cut - are the facets even? Is the gemstone well-proportioned? It's not unusual for coloured gemstones to be more "bulky" compared with diamonds as this can enhance the colour of the stone, but this will add to carat weight

  • other surface imperfections such as chips, wear on the corners of the facets etc.

  • has the gemstone been treated in any way to improve its appearance e.g. heated, oil-filled, glass-filled? Treatments are used to improve the appearance of lower quality stones and are not a problem as long as they are disclosed

If you are looking to reduce costs, consider compromising in one of these areas, such as choosing a smaller gemstone or one with visible inclusions - they can still be beautiful and unique in their own right.

The type of gemstone is also important. Expect to pay more for "the big 4": diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire. Stones such as garnet, topaz, amethyst and peridot are usually more affordable and it's also worth considering less well known gemstones such as spinel and tourmaline which are available in a wide range of colours.

Labour Costs

Whilst it's easy to understand where material costs come from, labour costs can sometimes be overlooked. The process of creating a piece of jewellery by hand can be a painstaking process - essentially, the more intricate the design, the longer it will take and the higher the labour costs will be. A few design considerations that will impact on labour costs are:

  • how many individual components are needed to construct the piece?

  • do you want to include a fancy-cut gemstone, such as marquise, pear-shaped, princess cut? All settings need to made to fit the individual stones, but round gemstones are by far the easiest and quickest to set

  • how many gemstones are included?

  • is any intricate or precise cutting required?

  • what sort of finish do you require? A flawless mirror finish on a large piece takes time, care and attention

  • how big is the piece? Larger pieces will generally take longer, for example it's much quicker to create a hammered texture on ring band compared with a bangle

  • earrings usually come in pairs(!) - the labour costs involved in creating a matching pair of earrings can sometimes be surprising

The design process itself can also incur costs. Whilst I provide basic pencil sketches free with my quotes, a full-colour rendering of the piece takes several hours and is offered as an additional service primarily for special commissions such as engagement rings.

A quick note on remodelling jewellery: removing gemstones, melting down metal and forming it into something useable all takes time and can cost as much in labour as buying new material. For this reason, I would only recommend remodelling jewellery for e.g. sentimental or environmental reasons - it's very rarely a cost-effective option!

Other Costs

There are a few additional costs that should be considered when creating a bespoke piece of jewellery. Hallmarking is a legal requirement in the UK for precious metals such as silver and gold (there are some weight exemptions - you can find out more here), but it's a service that must be paid for. Engraving is another service that is very popular with sentimental pieces such as wedding rings and is available at additional cost. Then there are the costs involved in postage and packaging - I recommend sending the finished piece via Royal Mail Special Delivery as it can be insured up to £2000.

I also include a modest mark-up on all pieces, whether bespoke or from the Collection. This goes towards covering other costs such as workshop consumables (sandpaper, solder...), administrative costs (website fees, insurance...) and a little profit that goes back into the business (training, new tools...) or is occasionally donated to charity such as my local Donate-a-Plate Christmas food bank appeal.

A Few Examples

Given how many variables contribute to the cost of a piece of bespoke jewellery, I've put together a few examples to give a clearer idea of what to expect. These prices are correct as of March 2022 when gold prices are particularly high.

Silver Cufflinks - £155

These silver cufflinks are an excellent example of how labour costs are important. The material cost is relatively low, but the time taken to pierce the shapes and create the chain linkages increases the cost. The matt finish is more cost effective than a high-shine mirror finish.

Silver & 9ct Gold Ring - £225

A combination of silver and 9ct yellow gold is a beautiful design feature as well as reducing the cost of having the ring made entirely from 9ct gold (£360). The gemstone in this example is a synthetic cubic zirconia, but could be replaced with a garnet or amethyst for a similar price.

9ct Gold & Pink Garnet Set - £310

This dainty 9ct gold and pink rhodolite garnet pendant and earring set shows how compromising on size rather than the materials can have beautiful results. Keeping the design relatively simple also helps to reduce costs if budget is an issue.

18ct White Gold Wedding Ring - £760

This beautiful concept ring incorporates both sapphire gemstones and a more complex design compared with a traditional plain band. The price reflects the extra work when compared with a plain D-shaped band in 18ct white gold (£460).

Engagement Rings - £1000+

A bespoke engagement ring, handmade with care and attention and featuring high quality gemstones set in a high carat gold, is likely to cost in excess of £1000. Please note this is not the price for this specific ring as it was a commissioned piece.

I hope you've found this useful. If you would like to find out more about the commissioning process, you can find out more here. If you're ready to take the next step, I would love to have a chat with you. I know commissioning bespoke jewellery can be daunting which is why I offer a free, no-obligation Discovery Call where we can explore your ideas together.

To keep in touch and have gems like this delivered straight to your inbox, you can sign up for email updates here.

55 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All