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How To Choose Wedding Jewellery? with Mark Fenn

How To Choose Wedding Jewellery? Or more specifically, how to choose, design and make your own Wedding Rings. Why not make each others Wedding Rings too!

Listen to Mark on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…



James: [00:00:03] Mark hello thanks for joining us today. 

Mark: [00:00:06] Oh good afternoon James. Thank you for inviting me and I look forward to having a conversation with you. 

James: [00:00:14] Thank you. Absolute pleasure to have you.

So brides and grooms have this burning question on their minds. Brides and grooms to be, have this burning question on their minds and it is, “how to choose wedding jewellery?” 

Mark: [00:00:27] Right. Wedding jewellery… The thing that I’m involved with is wedding rings. The Wedding Band, the main event. Okay it’s the engagement ring that I have to work with. But with Wedding Rings, what they need to do is sit down, discuss, browse the internet, browse shops. With the women, what the trend seems to be at the moment is they are actually matching the width of the wedding ring with their engagement ring. So they need to be thin. That’s the trend that I’ve seen this year. The big trend as well is white gold. White gold has really sort of taken off. There are some issues that we can talk about later, but at the moment the trend is white gold. 

James: [00:01:30] Does that include your Palladium… 

Mark: [00:01:36]

Palladium is Palladium. Platinum Is platinum. But the clients that I’m dealing with are going for white gold. So they’ve got white gold Engagement rings.

They’re going for white gold wedding bands. The thing that they have to remember is all gold is yellow and how they make it white is they add alloys to it. Actually white gold is slightly grey when it’s finished. Though these white shiny gold rings are actually Lithium plated, so they have to understand that. But you can find out on my web page, there’s a page about things you need to know about white gold. 

Mark: [00:02:18] So with women that’s the trend at the moment. Going with thin bands. Gentlemen seem to be going back to what I call wide, and flat. 

James: [00:02:30] Right! 

Mark: [00:02:31]

Thick and Chunky. I actually like that. It gives some width, it will give some weight to it. What I say to clients or couples who phone me up, is to work out the size that you want your wedding band, and how they can do that easily is if they cut strips of paper.

Like 2mm wide, 3mm wide, for up to about 6mm and then they try that around their fingers, next to the engagement ring. The gentleman don’t generally have engagement rings. although I have met some who have! So they can get a guide to what the ring’s going to look like, if either they come and make them with me, or if they go to a shop. At least they’ve got something in mind. 

James: [00:03:18] I consider my ring to be flat and chunky. 

Mark: [00:03:23] That’s actually made from a sheet. Sheet metal. So how we get our metal out of bouillon. We call it wire. So for instance that’s come out of sheet, a big flat sheet. So that would make, like you say, that type of ring. So that’s a sort of ring that’s 6mm wide by 2mm deep. Matt finish. The other rings, the other profiles, we get stuff in profile, is done by wire. So this is a classic ring. 

James: [00:04:01] Yep. 

Mark: [00:04:01] If you cut through that and open it up, it looks like the letter D. So we call that in the trade, D wire. 

James: [00:04:10] Right OK! 

Mark: [00:04:11] Different profiles. Flat sheets. We get round wire, D shaped, square. This is one of the smallest rings I’ve made and that’s about 1.5mm, 2mm wide, and that’s square. That’s square wire. They have choices. The thing I like to get couples to understand is… They normally come to me once they’ve got their engagement ring. 

James: [00:04:46] Yep. 

Mark: [00:04:47]

What I’d like to say to couples is when you’re buying the engagement ring. The gentleman really, when you’re going to buy the engagement ring for your loved one, think about where the wedding band is going to go.

What you want it to do is you want the band to go underneath the stone. I get lots of couples phoning me up or trying to make their Wedding Rings. And they say I’ve got an unusual shaped engagement ring. Can we make a ring going round that? Yes we can. It’s difficult. So the best ones I see is they actually go with a 2mm band, 2mm wide. So the wedding band can be 2mm thick or just under and it slots underneath the engagement ring. Some ladies when they get married they don’t wear their engagement ring on their Wedding Day. They just go with the wedding band. But every couple’s different. Every couple has their own sort of aesthetic, the things that they like. Me personally, the best ring that I make and I made this year is a cork ring, which is an oval. some people call it a cork ring or a comfort ring. It’s like an oval shape and the best way to describe it is if you’ve seen Lord of the Rings, The One Ring, that’s a cork shape. So let’s look at profiles. The other trend that’s going on this year for me is couples wanting engraving on the inside. 

James: [00:06:31] Right, yep. 

Mark: [00:06:33] What they do is they either go with the first part of a song. I’ve had medieval poems, just the first line. Also the other things they do is they go for the date. The date that they get married. So they have their initials in the rings with the date. So we can put anything on the inside of a wedding ring. What I like about it is, the couples they know it’s there, no one else does. 

James: [00:07:05] Has anybody had one ring to rule them all yet? 

Mark: [00:07:08] No not yet. I’m waiting for that one. The only thing is, I don’t do the engraving myself, being honest. It’s done by the Goldsmiths company, they laser engrave it. And they only offer three fonts. I’m waiting for someone to actually come up with the Lord of the Rings font, it will happen. Is there anything else you’d like to ask about? 

James: [00:07:38] Well actually we had a little bit of a fun question for you. What got you started with making wedding rings? 

Mark: [00:07:50] Life of a jeweller is very insular. An independent maker, like myself. I work by myself. I have my own studio. People can see my studio on the social media platforms but I work by myself. I just sit there, me and the radio, listening to the music the wife doesn’t. Like Nick Cave and the bad seeds. So I thought I can make. I’ve been making rings for a long time so I just thought, this is not a unique idea to me. I saw someone post something that they were having couples come in. And I thought, I can do that. Well I thought I could do it. 

James: [00:08:35] Yep. 

Mark: [00:08:36]

So I had a friend come in and we had a trial run. As a maker, I know how to make rings. I’ve be doing it for a long time. But can I teach someone who’s never touched anything like this? They’ve never done anything like it, they’ve never touched the tools.

They don’t know the process. Can I get them from, in the morning with a straight piece of metal, to a Wedding Ring? So I did a trial run and yes, it seemed to work, and it’s gone from there. The day has sort of changed. How we run it. There have been changes and tweaks along the way but yeah, it’s lovely. I get these couples who are loved up. They have a good day. They get fed well and we have a lot of fun. They laugh. I get people in there and I get to see their backstory. I chat to them about how they met? How did they propose? All those things and I have straight couples. I have gay couples. I have a wonderful time and the best thing is, I do it from home. I don’t have to travel. They come to me. I live in the beautiful Welsh countryside, in the middle of nowhere and I’m busier here in the middle of nowhere than I was when I was in Kent. Yes they make a weekend of it. So they will come down on a Friday. They come to me Saturday, they have a nice day Sunday, and go back Monday or whatever. So they do air b&b. Next year, we’re thinking about doing the air b&b part so they come to stay with us. That’s future business type stuff. So yeah it is a lovely lifestyle. I have the best job in the world. 

James: [00:10:48]

It sounds like an amazing experience for Brides and Grooms. It’s definitely something I wish we’d looked at. It wasn’t quite so available when we got married.

Bespoke was a big thing when we got married, let alone being able to make your own rings. So I think this is something that people should consider just like you say, for the fun of it. 

Mark: [00:11:07] Yeah the other thing I have to really say to clients is. I don’t make the rings. They don’t make their own wedding rings. They make each others. Okay. There is no romance in making your own wedding ring. 

James: [00:11:25] Absolutely. 

Mark: [00:11:25] They make each others. So I have to be sometimes a bit more hands on with the ladies because of the physical hand strength and size of the metal. I used to offer this, that one, that’s 12mm wide. I used to offer that but it’s too thick for ladies to actually do. So I’ve reined it in a bit. Maximum now I say, for this type of size ring is like 6mm. Still it’s tough to make but it is good. But the guys, the funny thing is the guys think they’ve got the easy job in a way, because it’s thin. But they’ve got less metal to work with. So it’s give and take. 

James: [00:12:10] Swings and roundabouts. 

Mark: [00:12:13] Yeah swings and roundabouts, and they do enjoy the day. We welcome them into our home, where we live. My wife and I make homemade lunch for them. They have sparkly at the end day, they get a free ring box, double ring box. And also the highlight of the day for me is, I’m a baker, I bake cakes. So on my website they have a choice of cakes. So they choose a cake. So at three o’clock in the afternoon, we have tea and cake. And I bake the cake that they want. So it’s a wonderful day. 

James: [00:12:52] Brilliant! 

Mark: [00:12:52] Yeah.

It’s something I would recommend, and there are a lot of independent makers out there that that will do this. What I’m saying to clients or couples who are thinking about this is, look them up.

They’re out there and the other thing is it’s not that expensive. I’m shocked at how much wedding rings cost. I get clients, they come to me for the day, they pay me, they pay for metals, and it still works out more cost effective than going to a shop. 

James: [00:13:36] That’s amazing! 

Mark: [00:13:36] I have a different set of overheads. I have a rate for the day, and then there’s the metal choice, but that’s a whole different ball game. Now I can speak for hours as you can tell. 

James: [00:13:52] Well no Mark that’s been absolutely fantastic. There’s so much amazing information you shared with us there. 

Mark: [00:14:00] Well it’s my pleasure! 

James: [00:14:00] And what a fantastic learning experience and what a fantastic experience to have as a bride and groom to be. So definitely, definitely you should check that out! 

Mark: [00:14:10] Yeah and like I say I they can say the magic words “I made this”. 

James: [00:14:17] Absolutely what a family heirloom! 

Mark: [00:14:19] Well yeah, they can pass it down.

And what also happens is when babies or anniversaries and stuff like that come along, some clients come back and they get diamonds or stones set in their wedding bands as another… So making it with me is just the first step. It has a life afterwards.

So James thank you very much. 

James: [00:14:43] Yeah thanks. Thank you Mark for sharing with us. We really look forward to having you again on our next meet up, so we’re looking forward to that! 

Mark: [00:14:53] I’m looking forward to it too. 

James: [00:14:54] Great stuff. Yeah Thanks a lot, bye for now. 

Mark: [00:15:02] Cheers then James, bye! 

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