We talk to jeweller Lottie Leigh about eliminating the uncertainty when buying bespoke jewellery.
Fundamentally, women need to try things on. Fact.” Charlotte tells me when we sit down to chat about all things jewellery. “Sometimes we think we like the look of something, but when we put it on, we realise it is not right for us. We also change our minds – which, as they say, is a woman’s prerogative!”
Charlotte explains that she came to this realisation after having problems with her own bespoke jewellery commissions. She knew that there had to be a better way of doing things. “Time has moved on, as has technology, and after retraining as a jewellery designer, I decided to look for a way of providing my clients with a service that would guarantee that their final pieces would exceed expectations.”
Charlotte does this by incorporating Computer Aided Design (CAD) into the process, allowing clients to see a 3D image of their jewellery before it has been made. The next stage, to really ensure that everything is perfect, is printing a 3D model of the jewellery for the client to try on. “This is a crucial step in the process as it gives the client clarity as to what the final piece could look like,” she tells me.
For really special pieces, such as engagement rings, Charlotte is able to take her design service one step further. “I make a replica of the piece in a non-precious metal and set it with cubic zirconias, in this way the client can wear it and check that it is comfortable before committing to having it made,” she explains. “This also removes the uncertainty for those wishing to choose a ring before proposing – if the intended really doesn’t like it, it’s possible to start again.”
Charlotte has also found the use of CAD to be incredibly useful when it comes to jewellery remodelling, another big part of the work she does. “It is terrible to think that there are pieces of jewellery containing diamonds and other precious gems that aren’t being worn,” she tells me. “There is nothing I love more than transforming a piece that is nice and turning it into something spectacular. CAD works really well in these jobs as I am able to 3D scan the existing stones and design a new piece based around them.”
Of course, Charlotte’s work is not entirely reliant on CAD. “There is always a place for traditional goldsmithing methods, which I still incorporate into the process – but CAD is an excellent way of ensuring that the client has a say in every single detail. This process, together with working with the best industry craftsmen, means that clients end up with jewellery that they adore and can’t stop admiring!” she smiles. “After our homes and cars, jewellery is often our next biggest investment – so it should be absolutely perfect.”
This year has seen Charlotte further adapting the way she works. “I haven’t let lockdown get in the way of designing fabulous jewellery,” she assures me. “Although I would rather see clients face to face, where this is not possible, I am able to work very effectively utilising Zoom and Royal Mail.”