Sparkle and Shine
Feb 01, 2016 08:40AM ● Published by Dia
Every piece is different, as is every customer, but in speaking with the experts, there are some things you can do to make sure that you love your custom jewelry piece for years to come.
You know the commercial—the one where the lady begins to slip on that ring, this necklace, those earrings. Dramatic music plays in the background, the tempo getting faster and faster until she’s finally wearing that perfect, glittering accessory she has always wanted. It’s a fantasy we all know well, whether you want to be the one receiving or the one giving.
Now imagine that the jewelry in question is so special, unique and original that no one else ever has or will ever have anything like it. Welcome to the world of custom jewelry.
“Everyone has an idea of the perfect ring, the perfect everything,” says David Benavides of Markham Fine Jewelers in Southlake. Maybe you’re ready to go custom for yourself or someone else. Custom jewelry design is an absolutely touching one-of-a-kind way to tell a loved one how much he or she is cared for—even if that loved one is you.
IS CUSTOM FOR YOU?
So when should you start thinking about designing your own special sparkler? “If someone is looking for certain unique designs and has personal preferences in a certain piece of jewelry, we advise them to consider custom,” says Ali Zameer, celebrity jeweler for Marc Samuels Jewelers in Grapevine.
Some examples? You have an idea in mind for a necklace or ring, but you can’t seem to find anything that looks like it. Maybe you like certain features of one bracelet and aspects of another, and you’d like to put them together in one piece.
Many jewelers will be able to modify existing designs to fit your preferences. “You can take one of our mountings in the store, and if you want to put a different stone in it, we can do that by having a mounting remade, but the piece has already been designed,” says Benavides.
A custom jeweler can bring your jewelry dreams to life. Perhaps you’ve been holding onto an heirloom piece of jewelry or stones that you would like to reuse in something new. If you’ve seen something sparkling in a magazine, or something that you lost, custom is a good way to go. And the best reason to go custom? When you’re ready to create something that is completely one- of-a-kind.
Whatever fantasy jewelry you have in mind, keep in mind that a custom-designed item can cost substantially more than one that already exists. Depending on the complexity of the design and how long it takes to get it made, a custom design can cost up to three times more than one that has already been created.
FIND AN EXPERT
In looking for a jeweler, try to take a look at the designer’s previous work, and be sure you find someone who has a style you like. If you prefer your designs clean and minimalist, you won’t want to choose a designer known for more traditional or over-the-top looks. Your designer is the expert in this situation, and his or her finishing touches will be seen in the final product. Besides, you’ll want to rely on your designer to fill in any details you aren’t set on.
As far as sketching out your future one-of-a-kind bauble, you may already have a definite idea of what you want. Even if you don’t, you can create an “inspiration bank” of images you like. You can fill it with jewelry, old photos, even pictures of flowers. Even if you’re not an artist, try to sketch out what you’re looking for.
“The technology is so advanced that, whatever you can think of—if you can picture it or draw it—we can do it,” says Benavides.
HOW CUSTOM WORKS
In custom jewelry, the customer and designer work together to build a design of the piece they’d like. Metals are chosen, and types of stones are se- lected.
The designer then creates a rendering—a full-color, lifelike image of what the design will look like once completed. Old-school designers do this kind of work by hand, but today, most jewelers let a computer do the drawing for them. No matter what, you should expect to be able to see a rendering, so you can make adjustments if necessary.
“If, for some reason, they wanted it a little thinner or thicker, or they want to add a couple of stones here or take a stone away, we can do that all on the computer,” says Benavides.
From there, the machines take over, creating a life-size wax model of the piece. “Literally, the customer can put the wax on to see if they like it. It is the ring, just in wax,” says Benavides. If you have changes, those are made and a new model is created, until the customer is happy with the model.
Then the jewelry is cast in metal, stones are placed, and any finishing touches are applied. The process takes at least a month—and often much longer, depending on how many changes have to be made throughout the process.
When asked for his favorite and least favorite parts of the custom jewelry experience, Zameer says: “The worst part, I would think, will be the time it takes to actually get it done.”
It’s worth it to be patient, he says, to see your design come to life. “You are actually bringing someone’s dream to reality,” says Zameer. “The best part is when they see their dream piece, and they can touch and feel it.”
Benavides agrees that this is the best part of custom de- sign work. “It’s nice when you meet somebody who says, ‘It doesn’t exist but in my head,’” says Benavides. “The moment they first look at the finished piece, seeing their imagination actually take life. That’s what I love most.”
BE AWARE OF EXPECTATIONS
If you’re planning on requesting something to be made from a photo, be aware that it may not look like an exact reproduction. “If you’re duplicating something out of a picture, it will never look the same side by side,” says Benavides. “It’ll be close. There’s always going to be that element that the designer has done that you can’t replicate.”
SELECT SENTIMENTAL STONES WISELY
When it comes to using heirloom gems or reusing gems, make sure to check the quality of the stones, and ask yourself if you might want something that has a little bit more sparkle. “It’s pretty common that a customer wants to use something that has sentimental value, but the diamonds may not be the nicest quality or may be a different color than what they’re looking for,” says Benavides. For this reason, he adds, mixing and matching a variety of stones can also be a problem.