Handmade Or Mass Produced Jewellery? What Would You Choose? - Genna Delaney Jewellery Artist

Handmade Or Mass Produced Jewellery? What Would You Choose?
Tiffany Square Bling Engagement Ring

Tiffany Square Bling Engagement Ring

Can you tell the difference?

One of the main issues in the jewellery trade, when you are an individual jeweller who hand makes your pieces, is competing with the mass produced jewellery market and bigger brands.

I often get asked to make pieces which customers have seen in a big brand jewellery shop or a design that they have seen online but they want it cheaper. Unfortunately it is extremely hard to compete with the big boys as they can get things in bulk and stock reproduction jewellery. While a jeweller who hand makes the pieces will only have a one off, limited amount of samples to show and will be individually hand making your piece to your own specifications. They won’t have a massive supply of diamonds or precious stones and metal to show you as they will order it in, especially for your commission.

With the popularity of Bake Off and The Great Sewing Bee, emphasis is moving to handmade, locally sourced and ethnically made products. However, the words “handmade” or “hand crafted” or “hand finished” are getting miss used by brands and online stores.

With the growth of online selling, it’s easier to purchase jewellery direct from your own home, without having to meet the seller. It opens up more choice for you the consumer, however are the websites actually telling the truth about how and where it’s being made?

So how will you know if it is handmade?

One thing to note is when you go into a high street jewellers, they have a nice range of finished jewellery in trays with lots of the same pieces in different sizes. They have members of staff who have excellent customer service and sales skills, however, they may not know the making process behind making the piece or specialist knowledge of where the stones and materials have came from or how long it took to make.

Gail Set

Gail Set

In the jewellery industry there are a lot of trade suppliers who have various catalogues of custom designs. You won’t get to change the design, except from a different shade of stone or other type of metal. These catalogue designs are cast (an initial mould has been created to reproduce that same design over again) and then they are hand finished in a production workshop and stones are set. Big companies outsource the production abroad to save money. The high street shops choose a selection of products from these catalogues to stock in their shops. Normally they won’t even have a jeweller in the store, they will send repairs off to a jewellery workshop elsewhere.

With the growth in technology including computer aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, this also makes it easier and cheaper to reproduce products (if the designer or company has the money to invest in the software and equipment.) With the online jewellery stores you will sometimes see a render of a product, a computer drawing made to look like the real finished article but it’s not an actual picture of the piece of jewellery.

wax ring, cast metal ring unfinished

I recently had a client come to me because the manufacturing process was not made clear to them. The company had told the customer that the piece would be handmade locally, but he was confused when told the piece had been held up in customs. He had to wait another 4 weeks to pop the question to his fiancee. The jewellers then told them that they outsourced their work abroad and the client wouldn’t have been none the wiser if it wasn’t for the delay, where does it matter where it was made? It would still have been a lovely ring?

Companies need to be straight and honest with their customers about where the pieces are getting made. This particular client wanted to support an independent business and shop locally but the company had totally mislead them.

Domino Engagement Cocktail Rings

Domino Engagement Cocktail Rings

So how can you make sure the piece is going to get handmade locally? You can source a small, independent designer maker, who has their own studio or shop with their own work bench. If the workshop is well kitted out you can be sure that the jewellery is handmade on the premises. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a special piece it’s worthwhile doing some research into the jeweller/company before going ahead. Look for customer reviews or testimonials on their website and if you can, meet them face to face by visiting their workshop.

I hope this has increased your understanding of the making process a little bit more. And you will hopefully be more aware of how to spot the images you see online for a CAD render or an actual piece of jewellery. So much photoshop happens these days that it’s sometimes really hard to tell either way.

What would you like to know about handmade jewellery? Feel free to ask questions or send an email with your queries to hello@gennadelaney.com



Can't thank you enough it was exactly as we asked for and a lot more x better start saving for the Eternity ring you're going to be making next for June .... a very happy couple xx


My family bought me a voucher for a 1:1 workshop to make a silver ring for my Birthday. Genna's workshops are informative in the process of jewellery making and good fun. Genna has a lovely teaching style.

Best of all you go home with a beautiful ring you made.

I would definitely do another workshop and if I could give Genna 10 stars I would. Thank you.


Picked up my Wedding Ring today and words can't describe how happy I am. It looks amazing. Few wee (happy) tears on the way home. Thank you so much. p.s. thank you from my "Mum" too xxx


Genna design recently carried out a repair on my wife's engagement ring. I could not fault Genna's workmanship and the cost of the repair was very competitive. I would not hesitate to return in the future.


I had a fantastic time on Saturday, thanks Genna for being patient. Love my ring. Robert asked what I was making next so I might be back. Thanks once again for a great day x


Had a lovely day with Genna making our wedding rings! What a great touch to add to our special day! Would definitely recommend her to anyone looking to make their wedding rings, more than just a ring!

Stephanie 2018

Genna created my engagement and wedding ring and they are absolutely beyond perfect! She really took her time at the initial consultation and went over all of the tiniest details - when we got the pictures of the finished rings I was totally blown away - they were exactly what I had pictured in my head, if not better!!


Genna, it was lovely to meet you last evening and I just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you for the beautiful necklace. It is truly gorgeous. What a talent you have. I've not taken it off since last Thursday! I was even wearing it for Crufts all weekend!

Keep following your dream!

Jenny Campbell 2018

Really enjoyable and educational day, we both had loads of fun. Would recommend to anyone looking to make there own personalised ring

Gordon & Gill

As Alison and Ron’s neighbours we have witnessed first hand this special and devoted love and the beautiful commission pieces you made reflect beautifully their enduring love . Alison wears them with humble pride.


Today my mother enjoyed her Christmas treat from us – a four hour ring making class with jeweller Genna Delaney. She totally loved it and has made a wonderful ring. She reckons Genna is a natural teacher. As a former head teacher she’s good at spotting such talents. If you want to learn jewellery making then Genna is the person to see!

Prof Mike Press

Whoah this blog is fantastic. I love reading your posts. Keep up the good work! You know, a lot of people are searching around for this information, you can aid them greatly.


I'm over the moon with my ring! Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful piece which means so much to me. I absolutely love it.

Irene 2018

Thanks so much for the beautiful ring I bought yesterday!! Will be in touch about a commission a piece soon!!

Julia Wang, NY

Genna has lots of lovely jewellery to buy. The best things are bespoke though. She made me a few unique items using much loved heirlooms and updating them.

Bonnie Lee, TX