Devon Today Page 44-45 12/05/2008

Jewellery&Accessories

Statement pieces

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hen Jo Ralls was getting married, she was disappointed to find that bridal shops offered only a limited range of factory-manufactured tiaras that didn’t always fit or match. Seeing a gap in the market, she decided to set up her own business a year ago. “I wanted to offer people a chance to choose their own design and get a handmade product,” said Jo. “I work from home and I make all the tiaras myself.” Jo uses a wide range of colourful Swarovski crystals, fresh water pearls or glass pearls to make the tiaras. Customers can adapt her designs to suit their needs, or even create their own designs and commission Jo to make them. “We have a consultation and look at the dress and hairstyle and see what suits best,” she said. “I can match the crystals and pearls to the colour scheme of the whole wedding. When they find a design they like, I do a little sample on wire so they can go home and make sure it matches properly. It’s always nice to be hands-on and offer something a bit more individual.” Depending on the style, it can take Jo as little as three hours or as long as three weeks to make a tiara. She also makes an extensive selection of fascinators for the mother of the bride and bridesmaids, fairy tiaras for flower girls, hair jewels, cake toppers and button holes. “The clients can follow the whole theme all the way through the wedding,” said Jo. “I offer a friendly and tailored service.” Details: 07973 435064, www.tiarasbyjo.co.uk.

Just like your dress, your wedding jewellery can make a statement, which is why many brides-to-be opt for handmade, individual pieces, writes Katy Manning

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Tiaras by Jo

Bridal Tiaras • Crystal Bouquets • Combs • Fascinators

Handmade to your requirements Silver • Gold • Freshwater Pearls www.tiarasbyjo.co.uk

[email protected]

Telephone: 07973 435064

ith her saws, hammers, pliers and rolling machine, jewellery-maker Ruth Smallwood fashions one-off, individual wedding rings and tiaras from a range of precious metals and stones at her workshop in Plymouth. Ruth makes jewellery for brides all over the country, from silver, gold, platinum or palladium, with stones such as diamonds, sapphires and pearls sourced from UK suppliers. She said: “A lot of people like something that’s individual, as it’s such a special day. When people come to me, they know they can have something different — they can get exactly what they want to go with their look. Jewellery says so much about you. So, I find it easier to make a piece of jewellery for a customer I have spoken to.” Jewellery in her men’s and women’s ranges can be made to match the bridesmaids’ dresses. “I talk to the bride about exactly what she wants,” Ruth said. “She can get involved with the design process as little or as much as she likes. I saw a girl recently who had started to make her own tiara and was struggling; she couldn’t get any further, so I helped her with it. Usually, brides tend to know exactly what they want, so it’s simple.” Requests include having a wedding ring shaped to go around an engagement ring, or to have a ring made in two shades of gold. Ruth said: “The men ask me to do a lot of inlay, so, for instance, they might have a white gold base inlaid with yellow gold. Simple, elegant pieces seem to be the trend. And a lot of people bring in family jewellery, such as grandma’s pearls; old, sentimental jewellery that they want turned into a modern piece.” Handcrafted rings stand the test of time. “People really want wedding rings to last,” Ruth said. “You have to make sure you make something that contains enough metal so that it lasts. There are a couple of rings around that are very lightweight and they wear out quite quickly. By having your rings handcrafted, the metal is work hardened.” Ruth worked for a jeweller in Plymouth before setting up her own workshop in

January. From 1993, she had spent four years training in New Zealand with a traditional jeweller, who taught her how to repair as well as manufacture jewellery. With all her experience, it never takes Ruth more than a few days to make jewellery. “It depends on how elaborate it is,” she said. “A simple solitaire ring takes a day. Bridal jewellery tends to take a bit longer. You go so far and they come in and have a look and check it is exactly how they want it.” Details: www.littleredsjewellerybench.com. May 2008 devonweddings

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Tiaras by Jo

extensive selection of fascinators for the mother of the bride and bridesmaids, fairy tiaras for flower girls, hair jewels, cake toppers and button holes. “The clients can follow the whole theme all the way through the wedding,” said Jo. “I offer a friendly and tailored service.” Details: 07973 435064, www.tiarasbyjo.co.uk.

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