Make your own wedding ring
PUBLISHED: 18:19 31 January 2015 | UPDATED: 18:19 31 January 2015
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
At Recherché jewellers in Maidstone you can walk in with an idea and end up with a unique piece hand made on the premises – or even craft your own wedding bands
When Ben Wells was 13 his dad gave him a true love knot ring, which he cherished. A year later his father died and at 15 Ben lost everything about his person when he was mugged at gunpoint. Except for the ring his dad left him.
It was a tough beginning in life for the 34-year-old, now a father himself, but a passion for learning how to make jewellery was born and he left school at 16 to begin his training first with experts in Kent and later in London’s Hatton Garden.
A flair for diamond setting gave Ben the confidence to make one-off pieces from a converted barn at home in Hollingbourne, to battle through the tough times in the industry post-9/11, decide to go it alone and to supplement his income by taking on night shifts as a security guard. The really low point was when he had to go full time as a security guard to pay the bills, just doing one-off pieces in his spare time.
But it wasn’t enough and after two very successful wedding fairs in 2013, where people queued to speak to him once they realised he was the jeweller, not just a sales person, he set up Recherché Jewellery with his fiancée Holly in a former clothes shop in Maidstone’s listed Royal Star Arcade.
They acquired the lease in January 2014 and will have been trading a year on 15 March. “I made all the work benches and designed the display cabinets – it was just four walls,” says Ben. “It saved me a fortune.”
That can-do attitude defines him, for what makes Recherché so very different from the average high street jewellers is that you can walk in with an idea, a piece of jewellery you want to complement, or just tell Ben about yourself and your style and he will create any piece you want from scratch.
And every time you pop in you will be talking to a professional jeweller, who you will immediately spot at work (see right); indeed, throughout our meeting Ben is pausing to chat to customers, many of whom are regulars, referrals or via Facebook.
What makes Ben really stand out from the crowd is his wedding ring workshops, where in one day engaged couples can make their wedding bands in the metal of their choice – and take them home with them.
If they want engraving or stones set, the bands remain with Ben for a few days – but so far every couple has walked out with their rings. “It’s a very special moment.”
Once the couple has bought their ‘experience day’ (£225 each, metals extra) they will have a private consultation with Ben to get his advice on what will suit them and complement the engagement ring.
Metals for the rings will be ordered by Ben prior to the workshop so that they are ready and waiting for the couple to use.
The morning is taken up with health and safety and practising on brass after first watching Ben at work, then after lunch it’s the main event – crafting those special rings. A glass of Champagne is the finishing touch as they admire their handwork. n
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35 Royal Star Arcade, Maidstone ME14 1JL