How to choose the perfect wedding ring.

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It’s probably going to be the be the biggest day of your lives. The day you plan and prepare for is just around the corner. Most wedding ring purchases are usually one of the last things you tick off on the ‘to do’ list so it’s no surprise that some people can come to us a little overwhelmed at this stage. So if you’re planning on getting married this year take a moment; pop the kettle on, put your feet up as we bring to you everything you need to know when it comes to choosing that perfect wedding ring.

Budget

First thing you’d probably need to discuss like most things when it comes to your wedding is budget. Wedding rings can really vary in price so decide from the get go how much it is you want to spend collectively on your rings. This will help our designer understand the type of metals and materials they can work with as well as getting a rough idea of the weight of the weds.

 

Style

Before you’ve even considered your budget the first thing you thought about was maybe what style of ring do you want. Whilst most groomsmen in particular opt for a plain band, the possibilities can be endless. Have a think of the following before you book your appointment: do you want a matching set? Will you want stones set? Channel and beaded sets tend to be the most popular for wedding rings using princess or round brilliance diamonds. If you want to understand more about diamonds then have a read of our blog post: ‘ Understanding the diamond you’re buying.

It’s also worth thinking about the kind of shape are you after in a wed. If you are a complete novice to jewellery then don’t worry too much – we can look at shapes together during your appointment. For starters, a  popular shape of wedding band is the comfort fit. Designed to sit tighter yet still feel comfortable on the finger, the comfort fit has a design in which you wouldn’t really feel the whole band being on the finger, unlike the half round shape. The half round tends to be more of a simple band in design and is more traditional. You would be able to feel the whole of the band around your finger. 

Some brides like the idea of their wedding ring interlinking with their engagement ring. This is something that’s always popular and can compliment your engagement ring beautifully.

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Metals

After budget this is probably one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing your wedding ring. The choice of metal really determines how much you’ll be spending. Ladies when it comes to choosing your ring we usually recommend that it is made of the same properties as the engagement ring as it’s important to preserve the quality of both rings. The top metals we usually work with are the following:

Gold

Yellow, rose or white gold, this metal still remains popular with wedding rings. The price of gold can depend on the weight, carat and rarity of the material. If you’d like a different material to stand against a diamond engagement ring that’s very on trend then why not try a rose gold band? Rose gold is feminine, delicate and doesn’t tarnish.  If you’d prefer more of a classic look then yellow gold is very traditional and timeless. If you’d prefer a silver tone then white gold may be best suited. White gold will lose it’s brightness over time so it’s worth popping back to us once in a while for us to bring that shine back to life.

Platinum

If you’re after luxury then you won’t be disappointed with Platinum as a metal. Hardwearing and a rarer form of metal, Platinum will indeed come with a higher price point than most metals. If you’re looking for a metal that will hold the stones in a ring then this would be a match made in heaven.

Palladium

A metal that’s increased in popularity over the last couple of years has been Palladium. Still belonging the same family as platinum this metal is lot lighter and can be more affordable. It’s always worth getting a quote for platinum and palladium rings however when you are in an appointment as the difference in price can change daily.  A durable metal a palladium ring wouldn’t require Rhodium plating.

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Titanium

A great material if you’re after a really durable wedding ring. Great for those that work in a trade; such as builder, plumber, electrician and use their hands for their work. More affordable than gold – it’s a great material that’s very hard to bend and get out of shape and requires minimal maintenance.

Your appointment

 Once you’ve established a budget with your partner it’s always a good idea to book an appointment with a House of Solus designer to get the ball rolling. Located in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the design studio is a private space where you can talk about your expenditure, ideas and thoughts over a refreshment with your jeweller. 

Jill came to visit us at the end of 2018 from oversees in search of designing a set of wedding rings which she intended on surprising her fiancé with upon her return to Australia. After getting to know her requirements, Jill and Gemma designed a pair of stunning 18 carat white gold wedding rings.

 

‘It was very special for me to return home to design our rings and meeting House of Solus seemed like it was meant to be.’

Jill and Rod 2019

Once the design was confirmed our team of jewellers got to work in creating the pair of special bespoke weds which were then flown out to Australia ready for the Jill and
Rod’s wedding in February. 

Our ethos is simple. We will understand your needs, work within your budget and most importantly listen.

The finer detail

You might also want to have a think about the finer detail too such as engraving. If it’s something that you like the idea of but are uncertain on the choice, then don’t worry – this is something we can always add after you’ve tied the knot.  

When to book

We’d usually recommend for bespoke wedding rings to book an appointment with our design team around 6-8 weeks in advance of the wedding, although you can book in whenever you want to start looking at designs and ideas.  

For appointment bookings click here

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Understanding the Diamond you’re buying

If you’re coming to the Jewellery Quarter for the first time to choose a special piece of diamond jewellery it can feel like an overwhelming experience if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Faced with tempting deals, low prices and more diamond for your budget it can sometimes seem too good to be true; that’s because unfortunately sometimes it can be. Most of us have heard of the term ‘conflict diamonds,’ but how much more do you know about the darker side of diamond dealing? Over the next couple of months you will be faced with remarkable diamond offers from the high street. Here’s some good things to know before buying the diamond of your dreams. 

THE CERTIFICATION

Proper diamonds have certifications. A certified diamond carries it’s own ID card which explains in detail the attributes of your purchased diamond. Your certified diamond should have details of its clarity, weight, colour and statistics of it’s cut. Reputable certifications should tell you exactly what you need to know. All House of Solus diamonds are GIA certified; also known as the best diamond certification. GIA ( Gemological Institute of America) is a non profit independent institute dedicated to the research and education of gemology. A GIA certificate gives you a precise analysis of your diamond. If you are ever unsure about the diamond you have just bought you can always do the ‘newspaper print test.’ Place your diamond over the top of a newspaper. Shine a bright light over the top and if you can see the letters through your stone, it’s not a real diamond.

THE PRICE

Determining the price of a diamond really does come down to 4 factors. You may have heard retailers talk about the 4 C’s. The cut, colour, clarity and carat is what diamond professionals use to determine the cost of a diamond. The purer the diamond, obviously the more valuable the diamond. Diamonds with certain rare qualities are also higher in value. For instance, diamonds which are colourless are of most cost. Most diamonds, although you may not see – have small specs of yellow or brown colouring in them. Diamond pricing can be a bit of a minefield. (excuse the pun) Two stones can appear identical to the naked eye. It can be that a less brilliant diamond with slightly more impurities can determine a difference in the thousands when it comes to price. With high street retailers having to compete with one another and a very enthusiastic sales person if can be an overwhelming experience when it comes to the selection process. 

 


THE 4 C'S - CUT, CLARITY, CARAT, COLOUR

As we’ve discussed the quality of a diamond is measured on the 4 C’s. It can seem like quite a simple process, but once a retailer is throwing numbers and letters at you it can soon get confusing. 

CARAT: The carat of a diamond is otherwise known as the weight and this is measured by 100 ‘points.’ So a one carat diamond is a 100. Three quarters of a carat is known as a 0.75 carat and so on.

COLOUR: The colour of a diamond is graded by the alphabet. The best colour diamond you can get; indeed a colourless diamond is graded as a D. When you’re looking for a good quality diamond , the stone shouldn’t look yellow in colour. The more yellow a diamond the poorer the quality. You start to notice a yellow tinge in colour when you get to a K. A ‘Z’ colour diamond is practically brown in it’s appearance. 

CLARITY: Now this is where the jargon of diamond talk can start to get complicated. However once you understand the terminology used it’s easy to follow. The clarity of a diamond is measured by impurities which is magnified at ten times its true size. When a diamond professional is looking at a diamond’s clarity they are looking for the inclusions set within the stone. They can be ‘very very slight’ inclusions, (known as a VVS1 or VVS2) through to Slight (SI1 or SI2) and beyond to ‘Included.’ (I1, I2 or I3)  Your certificate should point out where these inclusions sit within the stone so you can reassured that it is in fact the right diamond and certificate. 

CUT:  The cut of a diamond if pretty straight forward. Most consumers have heard of round cut, brilliant, emerald, marquise and pear. However the quality of the cut that determines the price of the diamond. The depth of the crown, the facets, angels and all the other slices of the diamond plays a part of how the diamond refracts the light. A reputable certificate will point out the cuts of the diamond usually rating it from poor – excellent. 



THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS AND POST BREXIT

 

At present Britain are a part of the ‘Kimberly Process’ – a process which unites 81 countries around the world in tracking and preventing the trade of conflict gems.  Being a part of the National Association of Jewellers. – as House of Solus is, means that we have to adhere to the Kimberley Process and make sure the we’re not selling diamonds of conflict. The European Union is the chair of the Kimberly Process, which means post Brexit the UK will have to apply for its own membership to the process. So what does this. mean for the jewellery retailers and diamond prices? Well at this point in time it is all very uncertain so now is a good as time as any to brush up on your diamond knowledge in preparation for the inevitable changing climate.

 

THE BEAUTY OF BESPOKE

At the House of Solus we always want to offer our clients the best value of diamond for their expenditure – which is why during an initial consultation we ask you of you’re rough budget. A bespoke experience if for those that are truly interested in the quality of what they are buying. Our jewellers explain and describe each and every diamond you are looking at. We source diamonds suitable to your expenditure and you can sit and look at each diamond close up until you’re completely satisfied with the stone you have chosen for us to set. The beauty of the House of Solus experience is each and every appointment is private. We aren’t about pushing through fast and quick sales. We want each client to be educated on the diamond they are buying. We feel are clients are therefore reassured and trusted in our processes and the quality of diamonds we are supplying. 

 

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Get away from it all – Top Honeymoon destinations.

So you’ve done it! The rings, have been chosen, the vows have been made and that magical day has been. Whether you’re planning a mini moon or thinking of packing your bags and jetting overseas to a tropical destination – we thought we’d ask our friends at luxury travel agents Kuoni to give you a helping hand with some ideas of where to pack up and just get away from it all.

THE MALDIVES

Best time to go: November - April
Ideal duration: A week - ten days.

If you’re after that piece of paradise then the Maldives is literally the place to go. A place of uninterrupted serenity, each resort boasts its only private island. What more could you want when starting your new journey as newlyweds? With its crystal clear waters, stunning coral reefs and soft, white sands – the islands have all you need for ultimate relaxation. 

Kuoni suggest that the famous overwater villas are popular with honeymooners. That being said the privacy of the beach villas are just as breathtaking with private outdoor bathrooms and plunge pools. And what more could a happy, newlywed couple need other than a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach? 

Kuoni suggest travelling between November – April. It would be a perfect destination for a bit of winter sun – a perfect destination for those Christmas weddings! Ideally if you’re staying in the one resort then the travel agents recommend staying between a week to ten days. For longer stays you could consider splitting your time over two resorts. Same sex honeymoons in the Maldives are permitted.

THAILAND

Best time to go: November - Febraury
Hotest Months - April - May

Another destination that really is a taste of paradise. Whether you choose to lie on one of their exotic beaches or take in the vast flavours of culture the islands have to offer – there really is something for everyone. Whatever your preference be sure to check out Kuoni’s website as many hotels and resorts offer discounts or complimentary treats for honeymooners. 

The beauty of Thailand is you can really tailor your honeymoon around what you want. Whether you want to go a lively beach resort, prefer the more secluded destinations or want to be nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of city life – Thailand won’t disappoint.

If you want to travel Kuoni will coincide your Thai honeymoon with other Asian islands. It’s worth noting that some islands climate are different to others. Koh Samui and Koh Phangan tend to have more sunshine from May – June, whereas northern Thailand is cooler than Bangkok in the winter and hotter in the summer.

USA & CANADA

Best time to go: Any
Top destinations: Vegas, San Fransisco , New York, Canada.

Firstly when looking at the States and Canada for a honeymoon destination it’s probably best to first think what kind of honeymoon do we want?If you’re after the glitz and glamour and to really self indulge then the bright light of Vegas will certainly be calling. If you’re after breathtaking views then the Grand Canyon is only s short hop away from Vegas.

That being said New York is very much a city dressed to impress. With the stunning architecture of the city skyline it’s impossible not to fall in love with this place. Kuoni have suggested to perhaps visit New York as a stop gap though to maybe a more tranquil destination such as the Caribbean – as the Big Apple can be quite overwhelming after a few days. 

Another country that’s quickly becoming popular with honeymooners is Canada. With a diverse range of landscapes, culture and grown up cities. If you’re a couple wanting to take advantage of some alone time then why not take a drive up to the Canadian mountains and visit one of the country’s impressive National Parks. Offering stunning scenery and with a wide range of moose, bears and seals to explore in their natural habitat – we can guarantee this place will capture that a once in a lifetime feeling. 

ITALY

Best time to go: April - October
Top destinations: The Lakes, Venice, Rome, Milan, Sardinia.

We couldn’t have compiled a list of the best honeymoon destinations without Italy making an appearance. Regarded as one of the most romantic places in the world, the country is engulfed in rich history, dramatic coast lines and of course first class cuisine! 

The country is also becoming a favourite wedding destination. If you’ve perhaps tied the knot in the Lakes then why not enjoy a change of scenery and head up to the country’s capital? Rome captures the country’s empirical history and of course it’s home to some of the best food there is! Venice and Milan are a great stop too for art and fashion and of course shopping! 

And for the romance there’s Sardinia. With stunning white sand and turquoise waters – it’s a gorgeous accompaniment to the mountainous scenery. 

Kuoni also offer complimentary honeymoon offers, such as room upgrades, candlelit dinners and spa treatments. 

Their Personal Travel Experts can mix and match flights, hotels and experiences to tailor make your perfect Italy honeymoon.

BALI

Best time to go: April - October
Top destinations:

Known for it’s welcoming culture, Bali boasts stunning white sandy beaches and tranquility. 

Kuoni definitely recommend taking a trip to explore the culturally rich island. Why not get away to the jungles of Bali and stay at the stunning Kayon Resort. Voted by Trip Advisor as their most romantic getaway for 2018, the beauty of the jungle along with the warms spas certainly won’t disappoint. 

Bali really is a slice of paradise. Another perk of being newly weds is many resorts and destinations offer fantastic discounts and complimentary extras. 

Its worth noting that Bali’s rainy season is usually between January to March and October to December – so probably not the most ideal for those planning a Christmas Wedding. 

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Why bespoke?

With the high street cutting their prices to compete with the ever dominant online market – we explore why the journey of bespoke may be the easiest option.

Choosing a piece of precious jewellery, whether it be an engagement or wedding ring for a loved one or jewellery that symbolises a personal meaning, making that right decision can feel like an overwhelming experience. Shopping around a busy high street or scrolling through endless images on websites can just leave you feeling muddled and even more confused. More often than not the experience of ‘top deals’ and the saturation of fine jewellery can take the sparkle out the experience.

When some hear the word ‘bespoke jewellery’ it can be met with trepedation. Surely there must be a minimum spend for such an intimate and personal service? What if the designer just doesn’t understand what I want. What if I don’t know what I want? Will I be wasting their time?  Believe us – there’s nothing we haven’t heard! We understand that no matter what the budget, each piece created is important and personal; something that can be lost in some shops.

So where do I begin?

Firstly it’s always good to have a vague idea as to what you’re after and your expenditure. Even if you don’t have a precise figure a ball part always works best for us. Secondly – book your appointment. That always helps! Your own House of Solus designer will then be in touch and introduce themselves. They can either call or Skype (for our overseas clients) and will work with your diary to book a date in for your design appointment. We hope after the initial consultation you’ll be feeling a lot more confident and reassured in the bespoke service that we can offer.

 

The design appointment

Situated on Warstone Lane in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter – The House of Solus design studio is a calm and tranquil setting to begin your customised jewellery design. Unlike the high street we only offer a one on one service. You’ll firstly be introduced to your designer who will get an understanding of your budget and what kind of design you’re after. Don’t worry if you have no idea! That’s why we’re here!

Your designer will engage the type of style your warming towards and start designing it on our latest CAD technology in front of you. We understand that designing a piece of jewellery from scratch can seem daunting which is why we’re here to make your life as easy as possible. This is where you can really see your bespoke jewellery come to life. If you’d prefer to see a sketch of your design instead of a computerised image – we can do that too! We will work with you until you are completely satisfied.

THE BEAUTY OF BESPOKE

This personal service really is the beauty of bespoke. I’m sure we’ve all been there where we’ve been scrolling through the internet over endless pages of designs and we’ve felt our brains slowly become overloaded. I’m pretty sure we’ve all also been in a busy high street store where we’ve not felt that special shopping experience that high street retailers are trying so desperately to achieve. The high street has just delivered it’s worst performance in 12 years. With consumer spending habits being upredictable and volatile there loads the question within the jewellery industry – are you getting true quality for your money? Non certified diamonds and plated metal is unfortunately becoming more and more common. Imported diamonds and precious gems are also on the rise – with many jewellery stores wanting to undercut. With all these factors in mind it can be difficult for retailers to offer that one on one service without a time restraint. As they say time is money. Because our design studio is by appointment only, you will get that service your after without any interruption. The reason we also ask your budget for your jewellery is not to be rude or gauge if you’re worth spending time on. It’s to guarantee that we will find the most ethical way of sourcing your jewellery design.

 

At the end of the final production – your designer will get in touch to arrange a collection. Your jeweller will discuss how to best care for your specific piece of jewellery so it lasts a lifetime. This is the perfect time to ask any questions too. 

In the last three years we constantly hear about how easy the process was from start to finish. Word of mouth is a pretty powerful thing so there’s no better feeling than a customer leaving saying that they will recommend us to family and friends. It reassures us that in a world of retail uncertainty that we can be certain the beauty of bespoke is the way forward.

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How to care for your jewellery

So you’ve had your design consultation, you’ve waited for that special piece to be made just for you and now it’s time for you to enjoy wearing it. Like with all priceless pieces the thought of how to best care for your jewellery is something that we’re often asked upon collection. So here we’ve put together a fools proof guide of maintaining and caring for your bespoke item.

Cleaning your jewellery

Some jewellery can tarnish over time when it’s had exposure to oxygen. 9 carat gold and silver will need polishing. The slight tarnish can make your jewellery look duller and darker. Harder metals such as platinum, palladium won’t tarnish but will scratch over time as jewellery does. We recommend getting all jewellery cleaned by our in house polisher once a year

THE DAY TO DAY

With everyone’s lives busier than ever it may seem hard to spare a thought for how your jewellery is wearing. Washing up, showering and moisturising will however all take a toll on your stones shine. If you can take the time to simply run your ring under a hot tap and with a mild detergent and soft bristled toothbrush brush over your diamond or gemstone it will prolong your rings finish.

KEEPING THE SHINE

Whether you have a polished or matt shine every day wear can dull your piece of jewellery. If you can we reccomened taking your jewellery off and keeping it somewhere safe for chores. If you’re a gym bunny take it off for that too! 

OUR AFTERCARE PROMISE

If you’re ever unsure about the condition of your bespoke piece of jewellery please bring it in to our design studio where our designer will give it the once over. The House of Solus offer a complimentary ring polish upon purchase of your wedding ring, so you can be assured your engagement ring will be stand out against your wedding ring.

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