Advice from a jewellery designer: how to pick your bridal jewellery

This week’s post is an exciting collab post over on Rowton Castle’s site. I got married at Rowton last year and can’t recommend the venue enough, so I was delighted to write another blog post for them. Check it out here…

And for gorgeous, elegant jewellery for brides, bridesmaids and members of the wedding party, head to the wedding section of the Tiding of Magpies shop!

If you’re interested in reading the first post I wrote for the castle, all about designing my own wedding, you can take a look at it here.

Florence-and-Michael-Wedding-163.jpg
Photo by Suzy Wimbourne Photography

 

With this ring…

When our lovely photographers, Suzy and Alex, worked some super speedy magic to give us a selection of sneak peaks of our wedding pictures less than 24 hours after the wedding even finished (?!), I knew I had do another wedding-themed post this week. And, because this is Tiding of Magpies, I’m sharing all the photos of the wedding jewellery…

uyKgrYk.gif

So the other week I wrote about the jewellery I was going to wear, and this is what I ended up in:

20171003_160747
My mum’s pearl and haematite bracelet
FB_IMG_1506927291443
Wedding rings made by us
FB_IMG_1506927327594
Headpiece by Ayansi Wedding Designs on Etsy
20171002_213920
Delicate, gold love-knot ring, Tiding of Magpies

As you can see, I decided against the cluster ring I originally made to wear on the day, since I was worried it would look a bit fussy when combined with dress and flowers. This design is an adaptation of my popular love-knot stud earrings, and will be available online just in time for Christmas, so watch this space… (I also wore the heirloom butterfly brooch on my bouquet – I’ll add a picture when we have the full wedding album, as I know Suzy took the accessories for a photoshoot while I was getting ready!

I also made the jewellery for my gorgeous bridesmaids (but of course): rose gold lariat necklaces with amusingly-named pearl potato beads (unevenly-shaped rather than perfectly round), and a rose-gold version of my pearl chain threader earrings:

20171003_160329
You can also see my mum’s earrings here (something borrowed!)

I couldn’t leave the mums out of the wedding party jewellery bonanza, so I made sure they had thematically-matching pearl jewellery of their own. For my mum, pearl threader earrings in the original silver, and for The Goblin’s mum, a pearl brooch, since she doesn’t wear earrings and already had a string of pearls she wanted to wear:

I’m sure I’ll post more about the wedding at some point, but for now I’m just enjoying lying on the sofa and doing honeymoon prep with a glass of prosecco in hand, so I’ll leave you with one of my favourite shots from the day so far…

FB_IMG_1506929676230
Who says rain on your wedding day is a bad thing?

What, where, who?

Photography: All wedding photos by the lovely and very talented Suzy and Alex of Suzy Wimbourne Photography (if any brides-to-be are looking for a photographer I can’t recommend these guys highly enough)

Dress: Starlit Gown, Needle and Thread

Bouquet and buttonholes: Silk flowers and berries, bought individually online and hand-arranged by me

Suit: Ted Baker

Tie and pocket square: Etsy

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Phase Eight

Mum’s earrings and bracelet: Cellini, Cambridge (many years ago)

Wedding ring and love-knot ring: By me @ Tiding of Magpies

Bridesmaids’ jewellery: By me @ Tiding of Magpies

Bridal hairpiece: Ayansi Wedding Designs, Etsy

Ceremony: Shrewsbury Catholic Cathedral

Reception venue: Rowton Castle

Bespoke bridesmaids: inside the design process of a commission

So I recently received my first commission, and it’s a special one. Sami, one of my best friends, a uni housemate and fellow 2017-bride-to-be, asked me to design some bespoke jewellery for her bridesmaids and flower girls. Being part of Sami’s wedding by getting creative and designing her the perfect bridesmaid gifts? #jewellergoals right there…

Since it’s my first custom order, I thought I’d share a little bit about the process, which is pretty excellent so far.

The first time Sami mentioned the idea of me designing her bridesmaids’ jewellery was over (several) glühweins at the Leeds Christkindelmarkt, and I leapt at the idea. Not literally; I was a bit pissed and full of doughnuts.

img_20161127_232829-1

After a party nap on the train home, we started batting Pinterest boards and ideas back and forward to get started on the right track. Luckily the wedding’s not till May, so we had plenty of time. With weddings, two key considerations are colour schemes and overall theming, so we started there. The wedding is going to be set up as an afternoon tea party (so lush!), and Sami’s bridesmaids will be wearing full length gowns in a pretty, soft blue:

 

Once I had some of Sami’s ideas locked down, I got to work. For me, the design process involves playing with a lot of different materials at my workbench, chain-drinking nice coffee and (poorly) sketching almost anything that comes into my head.

IMG_20170116_131936370.jpg

It was clear fairly early on that both Sami and I were drawn to the idea of an elegant lariat necklace, so the final winner was the bottom left design in my sketchbook. I also always knew I wanted to draw the blue of the dresses into the jewellery, so I had a great time one day last week fiddling about with a range of blue beads and stones.

IMG_20170216_152710898.jpg

The simple Swarovski pear-shaped drop worked best for the design; in fact, Sami liked it so much she agreed that putting the crystals into drop earrings rather than the originally-planned studs was the best idea. With this integral part of the set decided, I started putting together some prototypes.

IMG_20170217_150132263.jpg

 

 

Unsurprisingly, communication has turned out to be an essential part of designing custom jewellery, so I was live-texting Sami the design process above. It was at this point that she mentioned she had also been wondering about getting something designed for her flower girls, who are 3 and 5, but wasn’t sure what would work for them; did I have any ideas?

I haven’t made jewellery for children since I was one myself, and my 90s designs do lack a bit of finesse, so this proposition was an interesting challenge. Now, when I was little, I absolutely idolised any older girls I knew, and wanted to copy everything they did. That got me thinking about how to make the flower girls’ jewellery work with the adult bridesmaids’ pieces whilst being comfortable and age-appropriate for little ones on a long day.

I didn’t realise the amount of practicalities involved in making bespoke jewellery before this project, but I’ve found that making designs that work perfectly for the wearers and the situation is some real logistical fun. For the flower girls, bracelets seemed like the obvious choice: comfy, stretchy and pretty. I chose beads rather than chain for the body of the bracelet for flexibility and to minimise the potential for snag-related accidents. The flower girls’ dresses are these adorable ivory numbers, so I settled on faux pearls for the main beading.

 

I also wanted the girls to have pieces that echoed the jewellery worn by the ‘big girl bridesmaids’, so I added the same Swarovski drop bead in a simpler setting: rather than wire-wrapping the crystal, I’ve attached it with a simple silver fixing. Add in a little personalisation with heart-shaped initial charms, and hopefully these bracelets are something the girls will keep, treasure, and wear again.

img_20170217_171643835
Too. Cute.

So, with 75 days to go until Sami ties the knot, all that’s left now is to get cracking and try not to think about just how many bridesmaids she has! Check back in May for some shots of the girls wearing their gems (and at least one or two of Sami being a ridiculously stunning bride).