by Rikesh Chauhan
There’s most definitely an art to gift giving. It’s more than simply a ‘knack’ that some people just happen to have. It is a process that requires a lot of attention, a lot of detail, thought and time. The latter is not always the easiest to come by in this day and age, so it’s good when brands make things a whole lot easier for you.
Alice Made This create wonderful jewellery, this we know as fact. From cufflinks and lapel pins for men to beautifully crafted rings and necklaces for women, and everything in between, there’s a gift in their collections for everyone. But, what makes a good present great? It’s easy enough to gift someone jewellery, but how does it become something more than just that?
There are a few elements that make a present that little bit more special. It should be thoughtful: a signifier that you’ve really spent the time to consider their likes and dislikes, interests, personality and to an extent, their style. It should be meaningful: a good gift shows you care about them. It doesn’t need to be expensive, nor does it need to be an over the top gesture. As far as finding the perfect gift goes, you can’t beat individuality. So what better way to make something individual than giving it a personalised touch? A truly special gift is usually a one-of-a-kind gift, and with Alice Made This’s ability to engrave key pieces, you’ve really got the makings of something great.
A relatively new addition to her ever growing offering, Alice’s new diamond blade precision engraving capabilities now give you the option to find a present that could easily make someone’s Christmas (or year, for that matter). With a personalisation collection now available online, it enables you to engrave a selection of Alice Made This bestsellers as well as new products that have been specifically designed for engraving - be it initials, messages, memories, favourite quotes and so on. What’s more, when it comes to the personalisation base aspect of Alice Made This jewellery, you’re almost spoilt for choice. There are so many pieces that can incorporate these engraving subtleties, from elegant dot necklaces to bold, oversized mottled lapel pins. Some of the products I’ve previously written about—the Bacchus signet ring, for example—also have engraving options available now, so there’s something in there for everyone. You’d probably be forgiven for buying something for yourself, too. It is Christmas, after all.
Over the last few months, I’ve been spending time with Alice to get a seriously close look at the personalisation aspect of her business - from visiting their London-base for an engraving session (by this I mean watching Alice engrave stuff. It’s a serious bit of kit that is definitely best left to the professionals) to experimenting with styling them and of course, photoshooting. I shot several pieces and found that they really do age well. The fact that they’re all personalised allows them to slot into people’s lives seamlessly. Even Alice herself does this with aplomb. She shows how the layering and stacking goes well beyond her selection of rings, with a series of personalised pins adorning her equally beautiful denim jacket.
The oversized pin is great for its casual nature and its versatility which enables you to wear it in pretty much any which way, all the while retaining the element of luxury. In terms of the personalisation element, the bigger nature of this pin against other traditional sized ones is the fact that it acts as a blank (or mottled) canvas. There are a few phrases and mantras which act as words to live by - Create Your Own Sunshine being a great one at that. What better thing to have engraved for a special someone than a favourite mantra used by that special someone?
As nodded to, the oversized silver pin is also available in a mottled finish, providing a unique texture and intricacy when text is added. If you enjoyed this style but would prefer it in a chain, well then you’re in luck. The Dot dog tag necklace is machined in the British Aerospace factory before being hand-worked at their London studio, after which it is ground to give it a mottled surface finish. The detail is stunning, and it’s a perfect piece that can be worn casually, with pretty much any outfit. I would generally recommend a white tee shirt and black bomber-style jacket with dark jeans and black boots. There’s a certain edge to it that warrants a little flair in classic style. It comes with a 75cm to 85cm solid 925 oxidised silver chain. Rock and roll.
Then there’s the Dot necklace equivalent for women, which is already one of the most elegant pieces of jewellery on offer. Considerably smaller in size but no less stunning, it’s the perfect choice for engraving a singular letter or initials. I’ve raved about this piece before as I think it’s by far the most beautiful present you could buy. I speak from experience, too, as it’s one of my wife’s favourite pieces, and I constantly see Alice sharing Instagram stories of people showing off their newly-purchased and cherished dot necklaces.
It’s available in silver and rose gold as well as my personal favourite in gold. The 10mm solid brass dot is precision turned in the Aerospace factory and hand-polished before being finished with a 3-micron precious metal. The final product is then hung on a 40cm snake chain, made with a stunning vermeil quality 24 carat gold finish. The finish itself ensures it will work with pretty much any kind of outfit - be it smart or casual. My wife has worn it to weddings - both Western and Eastern - as well as at work and weekends away. It’s important to note that, along with all of the other customisable pieces, that engraving is a complimentary service, so there’s no need to not get it done, really.
Moving quickly from necklaces to bracelets, the latest addition to Alice’s range is the ID bracelet collection for men. The Charlie bracelets are made using a 2.4mm flecked dyneema cord, which, as I previously wrote about, is the world’s strongest yet lightest fibre. It still sounds just as cool as the first time. In addition to the dyneema cords which are available in neon and silver, red and silver and white and silver, the bracelets feature a 30mm aerospace grade stainless steel bar that is made with a precision milled and hand-finished flat face. Meaning, yes, you guessed it, you can customise it.
The bar offers the perfect space for messaging, making it a casual and minimal accessory that is ideal for everyday wear as well as gifting. Plus, thanks to the clever flat disc toggle, the bracelet can be tightened or loosened to fit you comfortably. Ah, the beauty of one size fits all. Similar to the rings, the casual nature of them allows them to be stacked if you like that sort of style, or paired back if you’re so inclined. And although they’re under Men’s jewellery, they look just as good on women - as you can see below, modelled on the wonderful Beth Manning.
The Bradshaw is slightly thicker than the Charlie with the dyneema measuring in at 4mm, and available in black and silver, blue and silver, red and silver or white and silver. The aerospace grade stainless steel disc takes centre stage in this iteration, and is perfect for monogramming. It’s seriously lovely, playful and luxurious. You don’t need to think about your outfit to see whether it will go or not; it works with everything. It fits perfectly with any casual attire, but also adds a playful charm when worn under a suit.
On that note, though, and this is perhaps due to my bias towards gold, but if you’re looking for something that lends more towards elegant evening attire or smarter occasion-wear, the women’s ID bracelet in gold ticks about a million boxes. The band is a black twisted cord manufactured in Malvern with Alice Made This’s British Marine rope makers. Black and gold has always been timeless, and the fact that there are several songs about it as well as brands, artists, creatives and companies that sport those colours, you’re never really going wrong. I’d recommend getting a singular word engraved on this, or a first name, but the options are generally endless. The fastening metal toggle has the delightful Alice Made This hallmark which is a beautiful little touch. Delightfully, the same bracelet style is available with a dot finish instead of the bar, and is ready for minimalist engraving in gold, rose gold and silver. Alice clearly knows her audience.
One of the more typically associated menswear pieces in regards to monogramming are cufflinks. I’ve always found you can tell a lot about someone depending on the eccentricity of their cufflinks. I, for one, always tend to opt for as little novelty as possible. Classic pieces really define style for me. I find it really jarring to see a really elegant black tie outfit accompanied by bejewelled playing cards or top hats. Or skulls. Or footballs. You get my point.
Let’s start with the Dots. At this point, I don’t even care about my bias towards this style. It’s, quite frankly, brilliant. Available in a plain or mottled finish in brass or steel, the pieces follow the same personalisation rules as the rest of the collection, inasmuch as you can engrave literally whatever you want. The important thing to factor in with these cufflinks, mind, is to never mix your metals. For example, as my wedding band is gold, I wouldn’t wear anything steel or silver in a black tie environment. The watch, cufflinks, rings and any other touches of metallic flair should sing together; formalwear isn’t a mix-and-match occasion. Similarly, if you’re more likely to sport a silver watch - wear silver or steel cufflinks. Also, don’t actually wear a sports watch. Always go for something more vintage and classic looking, a little more dressy. A dress watch, if you will.
Oliver is a style for those with a penchant for detailing. A slightly more subtle finish, and raised face, the cufflinks come in steel, rose gold and brass. The detailing in this pair, however, is quite fascinating given the nature of the knurling on the edges. It’s classy with a little, erm, edginess, for lack of a better word. Due to the slightly smaller base for engraving, dates or initials certainly work best here.
Edward follows a similar style, but a slightly cleaner finish sans the knurl. One of Alice Made This’s best selling pairs, the Edward cufflinks are available in copper, brass and steel with a machine satin finish. These are a personal favourite of mine when it comes to picking cufflinks to have monogrammed. The satin nature of the finish makes them incredibly elegant wedding accessories. What better time to mark it with your wedding date?
Significantly different in style but equally as stylish, the Erno cufflinks are cast, in solid 925 silver and now solid 9 carat gold, by a skilled silversmith based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Buffed and polished by hand also, it’s stamped with Alice’s unique hallmark, and juxtaposes matte and mirror finishes inspired directly by Brutalism. The Bancroft iteration, is similar in style - minimal and raw and inspired by Brutalist architecture, but has a matte barrelled stem. Geometric and elegant in the cuff, it’s a perfect set to have monogrammed with equally inspiring quotes.
It would be wrong to finish this article without mentioning Alice Made This’s incredible signet ring. The Bacchus, the showstopper of the men’s rings collection, comes in polished or matte brass and steel, and a polished copper. Signet rings are generally quite personal anyway, often detailed with family emblems. In this day and age where the rules for dress are becoming significantly more relaxed, if not slowly getting dropped entirely, why not contemporise it with a new engraving? A new name. A new direction. A new set of words not so much to live by, but rather to be inspired by. It’s literally a blank canvas that’s ready for you to make your mark. So why not make it?
One final note when it comes to engraving is: don’t forget the font. The engraving capabilities mean that there are actually a lot of different fonts to choose from. If this has the potential to be slightly overwhelming, I usually follow this simple rule: for anything casual in nature (and personally, anything in silver) go for Clean or Contemporary, or sans serif. For anything made for formal or smarter occasions (and gold), opt for a Script or Traditional font, also known as Serif FTW.
If you’re London based, why not visit Alice at The Turnbull & Friends Christmas Gift Shop at 4 Davies Street on the 21st November and 12th December? Alice herself will be live engraving selected pieces of jewellery on both evenings, kicking off from 6pm.
Rikesh Chauhan, professionally know as RKZ (pronounced Ricks), is a Luton-born singer, menswear writer and photographer, based in East London. You can learn more about his work here.