A custom jeweler is a jeweler who will work with you to create a very personal piece of jewelry. Custom jewelers are very skilled at helping you express what you want, and then turning your idea into a piece of jewelry with your story baked into it.
Maybe you have diamonds and a ruby from your great-grandmother, and you want them remade into a ring that you can wear every day. Or perhaps you and your husband share a favorite code word or phrase, and you want it designed into a bracelet for you and a dog-tag pendant for him. The possibilities to express yourself in jewelry are endless. A custom jeweler helps you create your vision.
Made-to-order pieces are existing designs manufactured upon request with only minor modifications. You may choose the overall size of the piece, or specify the type of metal and the gemstones used.
Semi-custom refers to the process of further customizing existing designs to alter their shapes or appearance. Semi-custom designs allow you to make variations like changing ring styles, head shapes, and design patterns, or you can make more complex modifications by mixing and matching your favorite elements from various styles together into one piece. Many customers choose a semi-custom approach because they can clearly visualize what they are ordering, while still being able to personalize virtually any aspect of the design.
A fully custom piece of jewelry is usually designed from scratch, beginning with multiple ideas and input from you and your jeweler. You will actively participate in the various stages of creation, offering feedback as the piece progresses through the production phase. This is often the most complex and challenging option for creating a custom piece, but it is usually the most satisfying and rewarding for both the customer and the jeweler. The shop gets to create a totally new piece to expand its portfolio and you get a truly unique, personalized piece of jewelry.
Get ready for a great experience when you work with a custom jeweler. Though every jeweler’s process is a bit different, there are some similarities in how the process will work.
Most custom jewelry products start with a meeting between you and the jeweler. That meeting often takes place in person, though many now take place through video conference as well. During your first meeting, you will discuss your ideas for the piece of jewelry. Some jewelers will start sketching ideas right away. Or they may show you pictures of different designs and concepts. You will discuss what the piece of jewelry means to you, who it is for, and if it is to commemorate a special occasion. You’ll also discuss the type of metal you want to use, and your gemstone preferences.
After the first meeting, the jeweler will develop a design proposal. Some jewelers do this by creating a detailed rendering with pencil or color. Some jewelers create a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) drawing. You will review the design with your jeweler, and there may be some back-and-forth while you finalize the design.
The first step is often the creation of a wax; a replica of the jewel that will be made. This wax will be used as part of the casting process later on. Some jewelers will show you the wax before they cast it. Many jewelry items don’t require a wax, so the jeweler proceeds straight to working on metal.
The jewelry-making process involves forming metals, sawing, filing, soldering, stone setting, and polishing. This is all hand work, and depending on the complexity of the design, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more before you can see your finished piece. Make sure you discuss the timeline with your jeweler during the initial stages, so you have a realistic expectation of how long your project will require. During the making phase, some jewelers will keep you apprised of the process, showing you their progress at each step. Others may proceed quickly to the final piece.
Then, finally! The day arrives and you will be presented with your finished jewelry. Your custom jewel will be one of the most gratifying purchases you ever make, because it’s truly personal, it’s art, and it’s genuine craftsmanship in which you get to observe first-hand.
Sound fun? Call a custom jeweler and start your own project!