More and more people around the world are having their jewelry custom made. It has been reported that about 43% of jewelry made in the United States is from specialty jewelers. The process of making a custom designed jewelry piece is different than walking into a jewelry store and picking something off the shelf.
- Start with your design. If you already know the kind of design that you want, that is great. Or you can go in and talk to an expert in original jewelry designs. There are some designers out there who really consider themselves to be artists. There are others who are more technical. Before you walk into the store, do some research online. It works out better to have the jeweler involved in the process of making a custom designed jewelry piece to get the right look. You can ask to see their portfolio.
- Talk about the price. When you are talking to the jeweler about the design, you need to agree to a price. The last thing anyone wants is to go through the process of making a custom designed jewelry piece and then wind up with something you cannot afford. Have this set before you commission the work to be done. By the same token, you should make sure they can get the size you want. This is especially true for rings or bracelets. Here are some other things to consider when working out the price you will pay for your custom jewelry:
- You may or may not be asked to pay something up front to have your jewelry made. You may have to pay something to have the concept drawn on paper. Make sure you are clear on what you are paying and what that is for.
- Get a timeframe. If you need to get the jewelry sooner, see if they charge a fee for that.
- Get an estimate and make sure it is itemized.
- Ask about the process of making a custom designed jewelry piece. There are two ways this jewelry is most often made. The first is the fabrication process and the second is through wax forming. The former is more time and labor intensive.
- The fabrication process: This is where the jeweler has the right equipment (saws, pliers, files, and a host of other tools for dealing with metal and stones) and they just make the pieces you want. They use a soldering torch to get the metal into the correct shape. This is a tedious process with its own limitations.
- The wax forming process has two steps:
- The jeweler sculpts the piece from wax. This is made to the same scale as the final product will be. Three-dimensional software applications are used to get the details right, which makes a lot of difference if the piece desired is very detailed.
- Next, the cast is made. After the wax version has been made, it is cast in metal. To do that, the jeweler uses a substance that is a lot like plaster. After it hardens, the wax is removed with heat and the molten metal is poured into the mold.
- Now the piece is ready to be polished. Once the metal has cooled the jeweler will clean and polish it. This step is the same regardless of the metal used. Any tool marks or other problems are taken off with polishing tools.
- After it has been cleaned, the next step is to add any gemstones. This step is challenging but with work and care can be done by a professional.
- The last step is the final polish. Before you get your finished piece of custom jewelry, the jeweler will give it one last polish. The jeweler also does a surgical cleaning of the piece so that all oils and residue are removed before you receive the final product. This is the end of the process of making a custom designed jewelry piece.
When you open your jewelry box with the completed piece inside, your work is not quite over, It is up to you, at this point, to give your new piece of jewelry a thorough examination. Make sure it is what you wanted. Ask if there are better ways to clean and store it.