For two weeks every October, the prestigious Goldsmiths’ Hall in the heart of London is wall to wall with British jewellery designers displaying their stunning fine jewellery creations - ripe pickings for couples in search of unique engagement rings. There is something inherently satisfying about buying directly from an independent designer who can tell you first-hand about the inspiration behind a ring and how the materials were sourced.
The Goldsmiths' Fair is an annual event in London, and the designers displaying their jewels work year-round to showcase their finest creations. I went on the hunt for stand-out engagement rings and came away with a renewed faith in the creativity that is abundant in the British jewellery industry. If you are looking for an unusual engagement ring, browse the Goldsmiths' Directory online and you will find a who's who of independent designers in the UK. It's a great reference tool for free-spirited brides who want something unique, with email addresses so that you can contact designers directly.
I came away with a head full of jewellery and a handful of designers that deserve to be on your shortlist if you are looking for someone to create something special for your engagement or wedding day. All designers work from their own private studios and welcome bespoke commissions.
Constantly seeking out the unconventional beauty found in nature, Ruth Tomlinson’s jewels are imbued with an otherworldly aura. The new additions to her Encrustations collection are inspired by the coral gardens and hidden nautical treasures of a forgotten underwater world. Coloured gemstones, including sapphires in multiple hues, aquamarines, citrines and topaz, are embedded in textured layers of gold, along with sparkling white diamonds. Ruth says: “I grew up by the sea and still escape to the coast as often as I can. Encrustations is a fine jewellery collection that has developed over time, inspired by my seaside meanderings.” The diamond engagement rings from Ruth’s Hoard collection are a gorgeously unique twist on the traditional solitaire, with antique-cut stones surrounded by granules of white or yellow gold.
Jo Hayes Ward
With an aesthetic inspired by architecture and nature, Jo Hayes Ward jewellery is constructed from small building blocks using rapid prototyping technology alongside traditional jewellery-making techniques. The textured surfaces in her Stratus collection catch the light with each movement, while the combination of brown diamonds and yellow gold create a warm, lustrous sheen in this one-of-a-kind diamond slice ring.
Exhibiting for the first time at the Goldsmith’s Fair was the new Honey and Cognac range of Amanda Mansell jewellery. As the name suggests, it fuses the rich golden hues of materials such as 18ct yellow gold and cognac diamonds, with flowing lines and contrasting textures. In this fine jewellery ring, gently undulating spirals of yellow gold studded with cognac diamonds unravel from a central old-cut white diamond.
Specialising in one-off bespoke pieces, Kerry Seaton jewellery strives towards “miniature perfection” in each creation, including her elegantly graceful and unique engagement rings. “Ultimately, in each piece I aim to achieve visual balance - a certain elegance that is also modest,” she says.
When studying jewellery design in Florence, Milly Swire began experimenting with mark making in wax - a technique she still uses today as it creates a unique fluid surface on the metal, which contrasts beautifully with the smooth, polished gemstones. The ancient Etruscan jewellery she encountered in Italy inspires Milly’s latest collection, including her unique colourful engagement rings set with rubies or tourmalines.
The wild and rustic beauty of the Cornish coastline is the influence behind Mirri Damer jewellery, from the colour palette of the gemstones to the shape of the gold that mimics the windswept fauna.
Based in Hertfordshire, the rural landscape appears in Sue Lane’s pieces through subtle lines, textures, shapes and proportions. She says: “There is nothing better than looking out of my studio window and letting the outside influence what I make that day. The countryside is my friend, my inspiration and a place I feel at home.”
Working from his studio in London, Mark Nuell’s passion for jewellery was ignited at an early age when visiting the sapphire mines in Australia where his father worked. A trained gem cutter, Mark’s striking engagement rings are often set with Australian sapphires in shades of blue, green and yellow, which have been cut to emphasise their natural beauty.