There’s been a significant shift towards the ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ consumer camps over the past five years. A statement investment piece trumps five items of fast fashion every time, and it’s important to really love something before it makes it into the wardrobe; especially on the rare occasion that it is fine jewellery. On the hunt for a statement accessory that was both retreat-appropriate and completely personal, Compare Retreats Founder Dervla Louli Musgrave headed into Jessica Cu’s bespoke jewellery store The 5th C to find the perfect aquamarine ring.
Every piece of fine jewellery in my jewellery box tells a story. There’s the Arabic necklace with my name on it that my aunt in Cairo had made for my wedding. A pair of earrings from Brazil that remind me of a long-distance stint my husband and I did at the beginning of our relationship, the pearls my mum had restrung from a necklace she never wore for my 18th birthday… the list goes on. But up until this year, I had never designed a piece of fine jewellery for myself.
It had been about a year since Compare Retreats took flight when I decided that I wanted to mark the occasion with something sentimental that I would have forever. Aquamarine is one of the colours in our brand book; it’s a prominent colour on our Instagram account and most, if not all, of our partner properties, feature water elements. If Compare Retreats was a precious stone it would be an aquamarine the colour of an ocean you wanted to dive into.
Buying fine jewellery can be an intimidating experience. Prices between stones that look identical can differ hugely, and it’s easy to get lost amidst all the technical talk. It’s also important to make sure that someone you trust does the sources materials responsibly. Jessica, for example, has over twenty years of experience in the diamond industry and set up her bespoke jewellery company The 5th C in 2012, selling only conflict-free diamonds.
I have had multiple meetings with Jessica in her chic office about aquamarine stones, and she patiently educated me about all of the different grades, shapes, varieties and sources of this particular type of precious stone over the years. It was only after Princess Diana’s aquamarine cocktail ring on Meghan Markle caught my eye, I finally decided on what I wanted: I sent Jessica over my budget, images of vintage cocktail rings I loved and certain elements that I wanted to incorporate into the ring. A gold art-deco setting, blue-green emerald cut aquamarine stone, thin band, and personalised details in the setting were a few key features I asked Jessica to keep in mind.
After about a week I went into The 5th C office to select the aquamarine stone that the majority of the budget for the overall ring would go towards and was blown away by the stones Jessica had called in. A variety of blue-green aquamarine stones ranging in price, size, quality and lustre were carefully discussed and after much back and forth, including an Instagram-story survey and a few WhatsApp messages to friends, I finally decided on a large green-hued unusual stone that I loved.
Because the stone was on the higher end of my budget, I chose not to incorporate any small stones into the setting. To make up for the lack of this little detail that I wanted, Jessica asked her jewellery illustrator to add something extra special to the setting. We played around with tulips, fleur-de-lis’ before deciding on a scarab after a friend’s suggestion. Once everything was finalised, I was shown a digital mock-up of how the finished product would look and then production started.
Receiving updates about the ring’s creation process every few days was something I loved. First, the setting was perfected, and within four weeks the ring was polished and ready to be collected. It turned out precisely as the digital rendering illustrated and fit perfectly. It was also significantly better value than it would have been if I had purchased directly from a store and was made to my exact specifications.
While it’s certainly a lengthier process than simply walking into a store to purchase a ring, having the personalised aspect makes this statement piece completely timeless, whether I’m sitting at the office or retreating in Bali. It’s a piece I’ll have forever that will always remind me of a great year starting a business that I had dreamt up during a caffeinated run on Bowen Road.
The 5th C caters to clients all over the world, creates custom jewellery and can reset existing stones. They can arrange insurance for jewellery created by them, engrave and re-polish jewellery and provide warranty for their own products. Appointments and Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 5th C, Unit A&B, 11th Floor, World Trust Tower, 50 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong | the5thc.com | +852 2654 6288