You might not be able to tell, but we’ve been busy sating our wedding obsession here at Sassy. We’re romantics at heart and we’re the first to ask a girl their proposal story, but we always want to see her ring. Our friend Sejal from The Tale of 2 cottoned onto our thing for wedding bling and pointed us in the direction of her beloved childhood friend, Nathalie Melville of the ethical indie darling Melville Fine Jewellery.
Nathalie’s little studio is located in Sheung Wan and a bit tricky to find, tucked away in a residential building. It took us a little while to find her (in a downpour nonetheless) but Nathalie’s warm disposition was definitely sunshine after the rain. The charming Central St. Martin’s graduate let us into her studio, which doubles as a space for independent jewellery smiths, and she welcomed us with a quintessentially British cup of tea before we got down to business.
Nathalie walked us through her sentimental bespoke design process and it was clear immediately that she has a creative spark. She began by explaining how each ring begins with a consultation and emphasised just how important her clients are to her.
“At the end of our first meeting, I want to make sure my clients like me and that we both understand where the other is coming from. We’re going to be working together for a little while, after all,” she told us.
She makes sure to learn as much as she can about the intended’s personality before coming up with a series of moodboards. She showed a few absolutely stunning ones that incorporate everything from famous landmarks to florals. After the initial consultation, she mocks up several design options in exquisite technical drawings that continue to evolve as she and her client collaborate.
Her detailing on each of her rings could put architects to shame and she explained, “I believe that jewellery has to be expressive from every angle. Whether that’s outside or even on the inside, a piece must say something to be truly beautifully. I actually had clients recently who had two secret champagne diamonds smithed into the inside of their wedding bands to represent their marriage, which was very sweet.”
Once a design has been settled upon, Nathalie gets smithing. After a somewhat hefty three months spent designing and handcrafting a piece in her studio, the ring is finally done and she creates a hardbound book for the couple, covering the entire journey with handwritten notes from her client to their intended. We excitedly asked if we could see one but she explained that she only ever creates one copy, so that the book remains a private keepsake.
What we absolutely adore about Melville Fine Jewellery (aside from their incredible bespoke process) is Nathalie’s commitment to ethical jewellery making in a somewhat murky industry. She’s not only a jeweller who uses conflict-free diamonds, but she’s also the first jeweller in Hong Kong to have a Fairtrade precious metals license in order to support disadvantaged mining communities. Sourcing her materials as close to the mine as possible, she ensures that each of her pieces respects the rights of the workers who have made her craftsmanship possible.
If you want Nathalie to quickly copy something you’ve seen in a magazine, she’s definitely not your girl. To be perfectly honest-we wouldn’t have it any other way. All of Nathalie’s beautiful pieces begin with her customers and a blank sheet of paper, allowing her to create something tailored to her clients and the space to let her distinctive style roam free. Her impossibly imaginative rings are stunning all by themselves but when you buy a bespoke ring from Melville Fine Jewellery, you’re really investing in a romantic experience. You can also opt to take jewellery classes at her studio like some of her other clients, who’ve actually made each other’s wedding rings under her careful supervision.
Melville Fine Jewellery’s definitely the place to go if you want more than just a rock, it’s the place to go if you want a love story.
Nathalie is set to launch her own collection at the end of the year but in the mean time, arrange a bespoke appointment with her below. Watch out for our That Bride feature on her ambitious DIY wedding as well, you won’t want to miss out!
The second image is by Jonathan Maloney Photography.