Custom vs Retail Jewellery: Explained

couple looking at retail jewellery

QUICK LINKS: What is Custom Jewellery? | What is Retail Jewellery? | What are the benefits of Custom Jewellery? | Should you buy an Engagement Ring online or in a retail store? | Does Custom Jewellery cost more? | Is it cheaper to get a custom engagement ring? | Can a custom jeweller make a new ring out of an old ring? | Why design your custom jewellery with Bell & Brunt? |

 Diamond rings are all the same, aren’t they? Well, there are distinct differences between custom made and retail jewellery. Our extensive guide will help you decide which option is best for you. Let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions about custom vs retail jewellery.

What is custom Jewellery?

Custom jewellery usually means jewellery that is personalised or has elements that are able to be chosen by the customer. It may also be referred to as bespoke, personalised or manufactured jewellery.

The word ‘custom’ in jewellery does not necessarily indicate the jewellery is handmade.  Custom or personalised jewellery could be designed using computer aided design (CAD) and ultimately cast in moulds, or has pre-made cast pieces that are hand assembled. 

In simple words, custom jewellery can be hand assembled and not necessarily ‘handmade’ by the jeweller. 

Hand assembled vs Handmade jewellery:

Hand assembled is jewellery that has cast made components that are soldered together by hand. This will often be sold as “handmade”, but is very different. 

True Handmade jewellery is made by hand starting with a solid bar of metal. It is rolled, heated, filed and carved all by hand to form a durable and long lasting piece.

If you are not sure what process a jeweller is using, ask the question “Is this jewellery hand-made or cast and hand-assembled?”

All our Bell & Brunt personalised jewellery is completely hand designed and handmade to last a lifetime.


Check out our senior jeweller Ben Shore talking about handmade vs hand assembled jewellery in the video.

What is retail Jewellery?

Retail jewellery usually is bought in bulk by a jewellery retail company and sold to the customer with a mark up.  It is usually pre-made cast jewellery where 100’s of 1,000’s of every piece is made in jewellery manufacturing warehouses.

Cast jewellery is when a wax mould of a jewellery piece is created by CAD (computer assisted design) and the cavity is filled with molten metal. This creates lightweight and porous products that are cheap to make and easily mass produced.

Off the shelf retail jewellery can seem like a great deal initially, however there will likely be more cost over the long run when you may need to repair or remake the jewellery.

What are the benefits of custom jewellery?

With custom jewellery you can choose the design and stones you want.  You will feel confident it’s a piece you’ll love and have a story to tell for the rest of your life as you’ll be making all the selections. You get to choose the diamond quality and size. You can choose your favourite coloured natural gemstone. You choose the metal and the design elements. You can add your own special and meaningful touches. And a handmade personalized jewellery piece has superior durability and quality compared to the retail jewellery equivalent. 

Should you buy an engagement ring online or in a retail store?

Buying diamonds over the internet isn’t the safest thing to do. If you aren’t able to physically touch or view the product, we’d suggest avoiding it.  Even diamonds that are certified may not have the matching certificate for the stone you purchase.  The cut of the stone plays a big part here as deep cut stones may appear less expensive, but then won’t look as large as they should across the top. Also, chances are that any custom jewellery sold on the internet is actually cast pieces assembled together, which are not very long lasting or high quality.

With a retail store, you can at least see to judge for yourself.  There’s nothing as telling as your natural eye. However, you won’t have many options with personalising aspects of your jewellery with an off the shelf retail purchase.  

If you are looking for something truly special and long lasting, then a manufacturing jewellery is the only way to go. With a manufacturing jeweller, you will be able to select every aspect of your piece to make it truly personal. You will also be able to receive an education and work closely with designers, gemmologists and jewellers depending on the jewellery store.

Does custom jewellery cost more?

You can select your own budget with custom jewellery, you get to decide how much to spend.  Although personalised handmade jewellery relies on a jeweller dedicating hours to create your designer jewellery piece, which can increase the making investment in the short term, but you will end up with a unique ring that lasts you a long time.

Is it cheaper to get a custom engagement ring?

As your custom made engagement ring will be created specifically for you, you will be in control of all aspects, including the budget. A custom handmade ring can range from $3,000 & upward. It may have a higher initial cost, but is worth it in the long run, especially for something as special as an engagement ring that you will want to wear with pride every day. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than having to replace a lost diamond or remake an engagement ring that wasn’t made to last. This also ends up costing you way more in the long run.

Can a custom jeweller make a new ring out of an old ring?

Absolutely, a custom jeweller can remodel your old ring to either look the same as it once did or to create a new style. You can choose to use your old diamonds and start with new metal, or you can reuse the gold from your old ring combining it with new, if it is sentimental.  That way you can also hold on to the emotional connection to your piece.

Remodelling jewellery

why design your custom jewellery with Bell & Brunt?


At Bell & Brunt, you will have your own designer and diamond expert to guide you through creating a unique piece which will be tailor made by your very own jeweller just for you; a true one of a kind.  You’ll also be in control of hand selecting your dream stone so one in the world will have the exact same piece.  

You’ll also have certainty that your ring is of the finest quality as we only work with the highest quality stones and use only freshly forged bars of gold.  Our master jewellers and quality control methods are designed to have your jewellery last a lifetime and be handed down for generations.

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