Hunting for a unique engagement ring is no easy feat, especially when you know you're going to wear it for the rest of your life. One of the most important parts of shopping around for a ring is finding a jewellery designer who understands your vision and exactly what the ring means to you. And that's where New Zealand jewellery brand Meadowlark comes in.
Husband-and-wife duo Claire Hammon and Greg Fromont established Meadowlark in 2006, and have just released their new Ceremonial collection. Each piece is made-to-order in its Auckland atelier, and although the duos aesthetic is quite traditional, their pieces comprise of unique cuts, shapes and even coloured stones. It's easy to understand why Australian brides are flying across the Tasman just to get their hands on one of these special engagement rings.
While representing Who What Wear Australia at New Zealand Fashion Week, INF / Network member Chloe Hill sat down with the Meadowlark team to chat through its new Ceremonial collection. Hammon and Fromont revealed their best-selling rings, as well as the top engagement ring trends at the moment, and the stones that unique brides are choosing. Read on.
Chloe Hill. Meadowlark designers Claire Hammon and Greg Fromont pictured at their New Zealand Fashion Week presentation.
Tell us about Meadowlark and how you got into designing jewellery?
Hammon: I was a freelance graphic designer, and when I met Greg and we started seeing each other, he had completed a Visual Arts degree and was making a bit of jewellery and we decided to join forces. At the beginning we weren’t that serious about it, but I can’t help but do things professionally so it just grew from there.
I’m really obsessed with your engagement rings! What were the reasons behind starting your Ceremonial collection?
Fromont: The beginning of it was Claire’s engagement ring.
Hammon: I gave Greg some ideas and he designed it, then we designed my wedding ring together. But it took a few years to actually launch Ceremonial. We started it because we saw there was a lack of alternative options for brides. There were a lot of black diamonds in our first range, it went really, really well!
Does tradition play a key part in your Ceremonial range?
Hammon: Our designs aren’t actually that traditional at all and our values around it aren’t that traditional. We don’t think you have to be married or even be in a relationship to have one of our rings. We love when people buy rings for themselves, we’re not into traditional rules!
What is the best-selling engagement ring from your collections so far?
Hammon: Our Hex Engagement Ring ($14,979) that we had in our first range, that is so popular and we do different variations of it. We’ve just done a Mini version ($2,979) of it as well. That one just keeps going strong!
What are the biggest engagement ring trends you are seeing currently?
Hammon: People are becoming more open to not using white diamonds. But we’re not doing so many black diamond anymore too, it’s become more about morganite.
Fromont: Yes, in the past there have been a lot of black diamonds and rose gold and stuff like that. There’s definitely been more morganite recently.
Hammon: And grey diamonds, which is really cool because they are reclaimed, so they’re really ethical diamonds.
Fromont: In terms of engagement ring styles, it’s such a personal thing so it tends to be less trend-based. We often get clients that come in who are really into fashion and want to base a ring around their personal style, but actually given the fact it’s something they will wear for the rest of their lives and it’s got all this meaning behind it, they tend to go really conservative. And that’s an example of why that traditional idea of an engagement ring hasn’t really changed that much.
Hammon: Often they start with these crazy personality-based ideas, but then suddenly it becomes really real and they get serious and then they flip back to tradition.
Fromont: I always think of picking an engagement ring as a journey. People come in with an idea and then I talk them through it. Then they’ll go away and think about it and they go through a process. By the end it has usually changed from their original idea.
What kind of styles do you think unique brides are choosing?
Hammon: Coloured stones. In our latest range we have green sapphires and I think people are way more open to them now. In the past having a coloured stone might have been seen as being cheap but now for a lot of people their perception of bridal is changing. But our customer is different, they aren’t the kind of girls who are desperate to have the 1 carat or 2 carat diamond.
Committing to a piece of jewellery to wear for the rest of your life is a big deal, what do you think about that?
Hammon: People have in their mind that it’s for life, that it’s not like just buying a pair of earrings. Maybe it’s because we’re in jewellery, but I don’t think anyone should think that way. They should just change their ring if they get sick of it, just get another one or remodel it!
Have you had anyone come in to remodel their ring?
Hammon: Yeah, we do a bit of that.
Fromont: Actually it’s quite a common story, people will get given a ring or have one designed and won’t like it, but they’ll accept it and wear it for years and years.
Hammon: Not the ones by us though (laughs). A lot of people hate their ring from the moment they get it, and they don’t know how to tell their partner they want to marry them but don’t like the ring! So it takes them years before they actually start thinking about remodelling it.
Fromont: And then they bring it to us and we’ll help them customise a new style with their stone.
Do you have many Australians buying engagement rings from you?
Hammon: The problem for our Australian clients is they can’t see the rings in person. We’re actually hoping to have them stocked over there soon. The other problem with buying online is the customs and duties, but we’ve had people fly over just to see us and the range.
Fromont: The difference in price between shipping plus customs fees and flights to Auckland are probably the same (laughs).
Hammon: Australia has so many options so it’s amazing people are flying over to choose rings from us, that’s really special.
What is your favourite style you’ve ever designed?
Hammon: I don’t know because I feel like our best work is to come. I do love our Etta Ring ($6,635)and wearing it with our Juliet Ring ($13,695). Those two together are my favourites from this collection.
Fromont: Often it’s really hard to come out of designing a range and have a favourite. But then someone will buy a style and I’ll see it when it’s finished and it’s totally got its own personality and I’m like, sh*t! We made that! But also Claire’s is still one of my favourites.
That’s too cute! So, what’s to come for the future of Meadowlark Ceremonial?
Hammon: I think when we design our next bridal range we’ll definitely take it to the next level. I feel this range is quite simplistic so for the next one we’ll push it more. Hopefully it will be less than five years away this time!