I’m a goldsmith by trade. I was always pretty good with my hands – my mum did a lot of wood carving and things like that, so I must have picked it up from her, and she saw I had that skill too. I got into jewellery making straight after school and I had my own business in South Africa before moving to the UK.
I’ve found that most customers who come to The Royal Exchange Vashi boutique have a clear idea of exactly what they want; they’ve done their homework so it’s just a case of guiding them through the process and nudging them in the right direction.
Essentially, the concept of Vashi is that we stock a range of jewellery from which customers can build their own pieces. Alternatively, they can go down a more bespoke route, where they bring in a drawing or photograph and we will produce renders and a final product based on that. We make all sorts of jewellery – including bracelets, necklaces and earrings – but generally the majority of what we make is engagement and wedding rings.
The great thing about what we do here is that everything can be adapted to fit each individual’s style and price requirements. If you see something you like but you would prefer it with a square-shaped diamond or a pear-shaped diamond, we can put that together.
We have all the equipment and machines on display here in the Vashi boutique; it’s very interactive. The style of workbench that I use has been around for hundreds of years and so have the tools. It’s nice for our customers to see this and it allows them to be a part of the whole experience. This approach is a completely new concept. I like that we incorporate the goldsmith and the customer from beginning to end, so they know exactly how their jewellery was created and can actually be a part of the process. You can even set your own diamond, if you’d like.
What we do here is particularly relevant when it comes to engagement and wedding rings. We incorporate a couple’s whole journey into that piece of jewellery; that’s what makes it so special. Generally I would say that couples pick out an engagement ring together these days. They tend to have an idea of what they want, but you need to consider things such as whether you work with your hands or in the garden a lot and how that will affect the stones. Emeralds are quite soft, for example, so if you are a gym instructor or horticulturalist you might want to consider a different stone.
In terms of engagement ring styles, I would say it’s definitely going more traditional and simple. Halo rings are also very popular. Ten years ago it was all about what was in fashion, but now it’s traditional four- or six-claw solitaire settings. You can have stones on the side to jazz it up but it’s a timeless piece of jewellery. We can source any precious stone at Vashi. At the moment we are sourcing an alexandrite, which is quite a rare stone as there’s only one mine in the whole world where you can get them.
To discuss your own bespoke jewellery creation, visit The Royal Exchange Vashi boutique where Grant and his colleagues will be happy to explore any and all ideas for making something that’s unique to you