By Åse Anderson
Buying unique engagement rings is all about knowing where to look and, to help you hunt down the perfect one, we have put together a guide to the best jewellers and independent designers in the UK offering unusual engagement rings.
A good place to start is an alternative wedding show, such as the one held at Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery in Salts Mill, Bradford, from 26 April to 28 June.
Now in its 14th year, this Annual Alternative Wedding Show features unusual engagement rings, as well as other bridal jewellery and tiaras created by independent jewellery designers. Entitled "Rings … The Changes", the 2015 show focuses on four jewellers whose work defies traditional ideas on engagement rings. Designers include French jeweller Clara Breen and her diamond and corrugated gold rings, and Hanna Tommola, whose work is based on the Finnish technique of shaping silver birch bark into everyday objects.
Independent jewellery stores often have a good selection of unique engagement rings, which will appeal to brides looking for an alternative to the traditional solitaire. Established in 2006 by a collective of local jewellery designers and goldsmiths, Brighton-based Baroque Jewellery is a treasure trove of quirky and unique engagement rings, situated in the cobbled streets of the town's famous Jewellery Quarter. The unusual engagement rings on offer, both from the shop's own jewellery collections and by a selection of emerging designers, range from sleek and modern to opulent and colourful.
Tomfoolery is a contemporary, family-run jewellery shop in the leafy suburb of Muswell Hill in North London. With a focus mainly on British jewellery talent, with a few designers from Europe and the US, the comprehensive line-up includes jewellers such as Disa Allsopp, Ruth Tomlinson and Polly Wales. The focus at this vibrant shop is very much on personal service, and customers are encouraged to try on lots of unique engagement rings, from classic diamonds to more unusual, offbeat designs, in their quest to find The One.
It is definitely worth checking out the Goldsmith's Company's Who's Who in Gold and Silver Directory for a list of some of Britain's designers creating unique engagement rings, such as Jessica Poole, Mirri Damer, Beth Gilmour, Alexander Davis and Dower & Hall. Based in Cornwall, Mirri Damer's latest collection is inspired by stormy seas and includes this gold ring set with a green sapphire, which would make a fabulously unique engagement ring. Beth Gilmour is also inspired by her natural surroundings, and her signature motif, the oak leaf, makes an appearance in many of her fine jewellery collections.
Having perfected the art of micro pavé over the past decade, Jessica Poole's latest interpretation of her signature Jubilee ring design features silvery grey pearls as a lustrous alternative to a central gemstone. If daintiness isn't your thing, husband and wife jewellery designers Dower & Hall create unusual engagement rings that are pleasingly robust and incorporate details such as tiny diamonds scattered across a chunky platinum band.
For unique engagement rings that will literally stop people in their tracks, head straight to award-winning jeweller Alexander Davis, who recently opened a boutique in London's Duke Street, W1, selling both his own work and jewels by selected up-and-coming designers.