Bespoke Brides: Your Guide to Picking the Perfect Engagement Ring
Bespoke, beautifully designed and timelessly chic, any bride-to-be will be well-versed in the world of Natalie Marie Jewellery. A Sydney-based boutique with a unique collection that’s worth its weight in sartorial gold, Natalie Fitch has become a household name on the bridal and jewellery scene – Meghan Markle has even been spotted wearing a range of Natalie’s lust-worthy gems.
Her classic, elegant designs speak for themselves – her pieces are sentimental as well as stylish – and tick the box for every kind of occasion, be it bridal or lunch with the girls.
But with wedding season fast approaching, we thought it would be handy to get a few insider tips from the renowned British designer on what makes a bride tick, together with some advice on picking the perfect custom piece. Nervous fiancés listen up…
What’s the story behind the NMJ brand?
I started making my own work when I was studying – I moved to Australia from the UK to study Visual Arts at Sydney University – but after graduating, I started to develop my own style and bench skills, and Natalie Marie Jewellery followed shortly after. The brand evolved and grew organically from this point.
I started creating a lot of my pieces from home to start with whilst working full time. The business grew slowly but surely (working 18-hour days 7 days a week can really take its toll!) and in 2012 I finally made the decision to quit my day job and work full time on the brand.
And the style?
The NMJ aesthetic is synonymous with me personally, so rather than being inspired by something specific, I generally just allowed my work to evolve in line with my personal evolution over the years.
What about your store?
Our new Avalon flagship store houses our studio, head office and showroom, as well as two bespoke consultation spaces all under the one roof. This is the first time we’ve had the space to showcase an extensive range of our collection and bridal pieces, as well as host our bespoke clientele in an intimate and private setting. We designed the space so that visitors to our showroom can enjoy the full experience – which includes seeing the jewellers in action in the studio.
What style is your engagement ring and wedding band?
My husband designed my engagement ring with no input from me at all – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! It’s a classic four claw solitaire in yellow gold, with a soft knife edge band featuring his grandmother’s 1.5 carat old mine-cut diamond.
My wedding band is our Queenie ring in yellow gold with white diamonds – this is actually where our Queenie design came from, as I wanted to create a super fine and delicate diamond band to compliment my engagement ring. It’s named after my great grandmother. I stack a few other pieces with my wedding ring and change this around a lot. Currently, I have our Rose cut Macie ring on the top of my stack, which I adore.
What are your tips for nervous fiancés-to-bes?
We are seasoned pros at working with nervous future fiancés and helping them establish what it is they are looking for (most know more than they think they do!). However, equipping partners with as much info (or hints) as possible is always helpful, not just for them, but for us too – we need as much insight as possible so we can create the perfect piece we know their partner will fall instantly in love with.
How to style bridal jewellery?
I always feel that classic is best for bridal jewellery, and something that compliments the dress choice. A good combination would be a sprinkling of fine rings (nothing to take away too much from their engagement ring) perhaps a simple Oval Bangle, a pair of Sugar Studs and a Stone Drop necklace. Delicate and timeless.
What’s the inspiration behind your designs?
It’s all about process for me. I wasn’t trained as a designer, but more as a maker, so getting stuck in and working with materials is what really gets me excited. The design process, for me, involves a lot of experimentation and play. The mood of our seasonal collection is an organic result of that, tied in with where I’m at internally and where my inspiration is driving from.
I’m really not trend-focussed with my work. Precious jewellery, by nature, isn’t transient and seasonal, but more of a long-term collectable. I think this ethos and understanding effects my work in the sense that I try to keep things reasonably timeless and classic.
We know Meghan Markle is a fan of yours, what pieces does she currently own?
Meghan has a good collection of NMJ pieces from the last couple of years. On her recent visit to Australia, the Duchess wore the below pieces:
What about your custom collection?
I create a variety of bespoke pieces for clients, which is a really rewarding part of my work. The whole process is very personal to the customer and really depends what their end goal is and what they’re trying to achieve, regardless of their budget.
The bespoke process generally begins with either a sit-down consultation or a phone or email consult – I try to get as much information as possible about the couple, their lifestyle and relationship, and what they are looking for in their piece. From here it's a process of refining this understanding and working out how this will come to life as a piece.
Generally, it’s an ongoing conversation and exploration until we settle on a design and stone that fulfils their hopes and expectations. I source each stone for each custom piece, so it's a very tailored service. Once all the details are confirmed, we then begin handcrafting the piece.
What are the turnaround times?
Everything we do is handmade to order, which means that turnarounds vary from piece to piece. Turnaround for our online store pieces vary from 3 days to 6 weeks. Turnaround for bespoke work is more varied and depends on the complexity of the design and our waiting list at the time of ordering. Generally, bespoke pieces take around 6-12 weeks to produce.
Bespoke consultations can be organised by emailing our bespoke team at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling our showroom on 02 9443 2426.
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