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Dispatches from a London jewellery designer: A lapidary saves the day

5 min read

Dispatches from a London jewellery designer: A lapidary saves the day

At Lebrusan Studio, we bring our engagement ring and wedding band designs to life on a made-to-order basis. Comparative to an ‘off the shelf’ approach, which would see pieces mass-produced and readily available, there are a number of benefits to operating in this way. For starters, commissioning our designs on request affords our client a level of autonomy, inviting you to order your jewel in a specific size and customise tweakable design elements to your taste. As a business that takes care to reduce our environmental impact at every opportunity, creating jewels to order also enables us to minimise surplus. Perhaps best of all, treating each special piece of jewellery as a unique endeavour enables us to follow its journey from start to finish. Once ethical materials are sourced, a Lebrusan Studio jewel is 100% crafted in the UK, transported from one specialist manufacturing workshop to another on foot by a member of our tight-knit team. The result? The manifestation of an unrepeatable moment in time, showcasing traditional British craftsmanship and delivered with a unique certificate of provenance that tells the story of the artisans behind it.

At home in London’s jewellery quarter, surrounded by knowledgeable and highly skilled individuals, our pursuit of impeccable craftsmanship is generally successful.We live in the real world, however, and we’re not unaccustomed to a small bump in the road. Thankfully, we're only ever a stone’s throw from an experienced craftsperson who can set us back on track. Today, we’ll tell the true story of a lapidary – or stone-cutter - who saved the day.



Settling down at a spot-lit desk in the London Diamond Bourse, her bag alive with the energy of new jewellery ready to make its way to its forever homes, this Wednesday felt no different to any other for our Designer & Sales Consultant Hayley. As usual, she’d spent her morning traversing Hatton Garden’s underground labyrinth of workshops, delivering components to one jeweller and collecting from another, grabbing a bite to eat from a market stall amidst the hustle and bustle of Leather Lane, and preparing for an afternoon of consultations with clients. At Lebrusan Studio, any manufacturing process culminates in rigorous quality control, courtesy of an eagle-eyed Hayley or Production Manager Kim. Loupe in hand, Hayley began to assess each completed engagement ring for absolute perfection, ticking off points from a mental checkbox until she noticed something unusual. Magnified forty times through her loupe’s convex lens, a small chip in a ring’s central sapphire. So minuscule was this chip that Hayley could only be certain of its presence with the help of another pair of eyes, so took it to our stone-setter’s workshop for a second opinion. There, her suspicions were affirmed: the sapphire in question had been marked by the tiniest of surface wounds.



As a designer with over a decade of experience in the jewellery industry, Hayley knew instantly that only a light polish could lift the chip from the large flat facet on the top of the sapphire, otherwise known as its table. With the sapphire firmly secured in a rub-over setting, however, Hayley was unsure of how best to approach the polish. Could the sapphire stay put, or would it need to be unearthed from its setting entirely?

An advocate for leaving gemstones safely bedded in their rub-over settings whenever possible, our experienced stone-setter Michael advised leaving the sapphire undisturbed, instead recommending a nearby lapidary he respected for his deft touch and attention to detail. If anyone could polish away this tiny chip without causing a disturbance, it was him.



The lapidary Michael recommended was based in New House, a tall building in Hatton Garden housing a number of office spaces and workshops. Navigating its rabbit warren of corridors, Hayley followed the directions Michael had dispensed, still sounding in her head, until she found the lapidary’s workshop at the end of the hallway on the fourth floor. Creaking open its door, she was transported instantly into the fascinating and unfamiliar world of stone cutting. Gemstones of every shape, size and colour imaginable gleamed in unison; polishing and cutting wheels were lined up alongside one another, varying in size and rotating at different speeds; angle-poise lamps were trained carefully onto each work station, skilful lapidaries never missing a trick. “I’m looking for Sahira,” Hayley explained over the whir of machinery and chatter of friendly colleagues.

Sahira, the business owner, took a quick look at the engagement ring and confirmed with easy confidence that he could hand-polish the sapphire back to perfection. On asking when she could return to collect the ring, Hayley was pleasantly surprised by Sahira’s response. “No need – I can polish whilst you wait.”

Within moments, Sahira had flipped down a magnifying lens from the strap around his head and was stood at an illuminated workspace, self-assured in the familiarity of his domain. Keen not to distract him from his painstaking work, Hayley used every remaining ounce of willpower not to peer curiously over his shoulder and quiz him on his techniques. Steeling the occasional glance from a polite distance, she watched in awe as Sahira polished the sapphire deftly by hand, not even slightly inhibited by the engagement ring’s setting. In no more than 15 minutes, Sahira’s work was complete and the sapphire gleamed proudly once more. Good as new, it offered no hints of a bygone issue. Hayley was astounded.



What makes our jewellery special is the promise that no two creations are ever the same. The course of crafting jewellery from scratch doesn’t always run smooth, but we see hiccups as colourful chapters of a jewel’s unique story; instances that shape its personality.

Having ridden the crest of the wave – which levelled just as quickly as it rose - this engagement ring was packed and delivered on time, its proud new owner able to pop the question without any interruption to their proposal plans. The only difference between this one and any other beautiful engagement ring delivered that day? The unusual tale it tells.



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Love, Arabel & Team


Ruby McGonigle
Ruby McGonigle

Ruby McGonigle is a copywriter and digital marketing professional with over five years of jewellery industry experience. After graduating with a BA in Linguistics, she combined her passions for written word and all things sparkly by joining the Lebrusan Studio team as in-house wordsmith and content creator. Among bi-monthly blog posts, notable examples of Ruby's work include a think-piece on the ‘natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds’ debate, a probe into why traceable and third party certified ASM gold is so important, and an investigation of why platinum is no longer more expensive than gold.