British word of the day v. 5

Today’s new and favorite British word of mine is “bespoke”:

Bespoke (pronounced bee-SPOHK) is a term used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for an individually- or custom-made product or service. Traditionally applied to custom-tailored clothing, the term has been extended to information technology, especially for software consulting services. …
Bespoke is a form derived from bespeak, which was used as early as 1583 to refer to the ordering of goods.

So I first stumbled on this word in the tailoring sense: there are several bespoke tailors along my walk to work, but the word has come into more general use as concerns anything we Americans would call “custom made”. It never occurred to me to buy something “bespoke” in the US (even my wedding dress was off the rack although shortened to accommodate my lack of stature), but this past January on my birthday, I had an appointment at a jewelry shop to have a ring designed and made, and today I got to pick it up!

I am a divorcee, and I got used to wearing rings on my left ring finger. Many years later, I find that I still feel naked if there is nothing on that finger, even though I go out of my way to make sure that what I wear does not give off vibes that are too weddingly: mostly interesting, colored stones, pieces that reflect my personality and say nothing about my marital status. (I do have one object with a diamond-like appearance but it’s the geek girl’s paradise, in that it’s a created moissanite, which is single crystal silicon carbide!) My problem was that I am a bit hard on things that I wear on my fingers: the moissanite ring has been in for repairs more than once in less than a year, so clearly was not fulfilling its intended role as a good day-to-day ring even though the stones themselves are almost as hard as diamond.

So my local “bespoke” jewelry shop helped me to design a funky cool ring to wear that had as its main mission to be not just pretty but hard wearing. Oh yes, and it had to be stones in colors that I don’t have, and I really wanted purple. Amethysts were not sufficiently hard (7 on the hardness scale), so in the end I got a spectrum of pink to purple sapphires (at 9, just behind moissanite with 9.3 on the hardness scale–diamond is 10). The stones are small and set in a white gold whimsical wavy setting with a very matte finish (it hardens the surface of the metal, as any good girl with an undergraduate metallurgy degree would know!) The result is stunning, but does not seem to photograph well in night lighting so I’ll have to try again in the day tomorrow. But the price was not at all unreasonable, even though I got to dial up exactly what I wanted, so I doubt that this will be the only time I hit up the bespoke jewelry shop down the street from me!

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2 responses to “British word of the day v. 5

  1. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  2. me too me too!

    also. i would like to incorporate “bespoke” into my vocabulary. however, i don’t think it will win me any friends.

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