The use of gemstones as adornment dates back to the earliest civilizations. Egyptian amulets, jade carvings from ancient China, and indigenous tribal ornamentation all point to a unifying theme in human culture across the globe: as soon as the human eye could recognize the appeal of gems, effort was made to turn the gifts of nature into wearable items. Today, gemstones are used as tokens of affection, in engagement rings, as fashion statements, investments, and status symbols. If you are looking for a one of a kind expression of your personal taste, then purchasing a gemstone and having it set into custom jewelry may be right for you.
How do you get a custom piece of jewelry made?
Congratulations – whether you have recently bought your own gorgeous gemstone or intend to find a colorful stone and have a custom piece of jewelry made – you have started down a well known path shared with Royalty and Celebrities. And yet….it is only start. What are key points you need to consider when having a custom piece made? We can help you navigate this path so that you avoid the common pitfalls and end up with a gorgeous piece that will last a lifetime (or longer!). The key steps are:
First – you need to a quick overview of all the processes required to make a custom piece. Click here to learn about all the steps from wax carving to casting – you may also want to understand how the professionals do it as jewelry manufacturers continue to churn out those gorgeous designs
Second – Once you know what the key steps are – you need to be prepared to answer some of the key questions a jeweler may ask. Your answers to these questions will help the jeweler design a piece that will be perfect (for you). For example, when you purchase a gemstone, perhaps you already have an idea of how you plan to wear it? or gift it? Thinking about these aspects will help you form a vision of what you want. If that sounds too intimidating or if you haven’t seen your vision represented in any commercial jewelry, working with a jewelry designer may be your best plan – but even the expert will have some questions for you. However, before you go create or customize a piece with a jeweler like Gemvara or Kay, you may also want to learn a bit more about some of the commonly used terms in the industry.
Third – Ok – so you may have the gemstone, know exactly what you want in the design, and you have the learned the lingo. Now you need to find a great jeweler near you. You need to recognize that not all jewelers may be qualified in the industry, carry the type of stone you require or have the capability and experience to make the piece. They will also normally source the gemstone from a gem dealer and then create the custom piece using a gemstone you select. Check out this post to make sure your gemstone is a good buy and here are some pointers on on finding reputable dealers and jewelers.
Key points to consider when having custom gemstone jewelry made?
Even an expert making a custom piece requires your input when designing the piece – here are some questions to consider from a design perspective that make it a truly personalized experience:
- What type of piece do you want made? (Is it a ring?, an earring? a necklace? a bridal set?)
- Do you have a preference for a certain color or type of gemstone (For example – you may want a ring with a blue colored gemstone or want to have a gift set with a specific birthstone)
- What type of metals would you consider? (Gold? Platinum? Silver? Other alternatives?)
- What is your budget? Keep in mind custom jewelry pieces – on a like for like basis – cost more than commercially manufactured pieces. This is because you are paying for something truly unique – that requires time and effort to design, source and build.
- Do you have a design preference? Maybe you have seen a design you like in a store? Maybe you have explored your own artistic capabilities – either way – be sure to let the jeweler know…
- How soon do you need the item? Custom jewelry is not something you can get overnight. A piece can take a few days (if you make some quick decisions, and your jeweler has the gemstones in inventory) – to a few weeks (if the stones need to be sourced and you require intricate work.) So it pays to plan well in advance!
What are commonly used terms in gemstone jewelry?
we will guide you through the process and define the commonly used terms that you will encounter.
- Loose gemstone: A loose gem is a stone that is not currently set in any type of jewelry.
- Calibrated gemstone: A loose gem that has been cut to a standardized proportion.
- Mounting: A mounting is a piece of jewelry with settings for one or more gemstones, but the settings are empty.
- Semi-mount: A semi-mount may contain accent gemstones that are already set, but the setting for the focal gemstone is empty.
- Rendering: The sketch that a jewelry designer will provide to visually communicate design details to the customer.
- Model: The prototype of the finished piece of jewelry based on the rendering.
- Custom jewelry: Jewelry that is not in the product line of the store or designer collection, but may be based on existing design elements.
- Couture jewelry: Usually applied to high fashion apparel, the term couture has migrated into the jewelry lexicon. Couture jewelry implies jewelry that is made by hand in limited quantities and is a luxury item.
- Bespoke: A term used in tailoring, when applied to jewelry it means that a piece of jewelry has been made to the specifications of dimension, style, and fit as defined by a particular customer.
Some points to consider
If you have purchased a loose gemstone and want to have it made into custom jewelry, first inquire about your options at a jewelry store that advertises custom work. If you have purchased a calibrated gemstone, it may be possible for you to buy a mounting or semi-mount and have your gem set directly into the jewelry without requiring any alterations. But if you are looking for something truly unique, then the custom route is the one for you. Expect to be presented with a rendering and then a model before seeing the finished piece.
Keep in mind that not all jewelers are willing to work with a customer’s gemstone, particularly if the jeweler did not sell the gemstone to begin with. This is because almost all types of setting can pose some risk to a gem, even if that risk if very small. A gem that is unusual, rare, or otherwise difficult to replace can be off-putting to a jeweler who may be unwilling to assume responsibility for your gemstone. Be forthcoming in your intentions. Explain that you already have a gemstone and are looking for a special, custom piece of jewelry and make sure the jeweler has the capabilities to work with your particular stone before the design process begins. Some jewelers will refuse to set emeralds in white gold, due to the softness of the emerald and the brittleness of white gold alloys. Make sure that what you desire is possible by confirming with the jeweler before any type of work begins.
The most important part of selecting any type of gemstone jewelry is your personal taste and clarity of your personal vision. When the soon to be Princess of Wales was presented with a selection of rings by the crown jewelers then known as Asprey and Garrard, she chose an eighteen carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by diamonds. Many people expressed surprise that Princess Diana, who was expected to have something created for her, chose a ring from Garrard & Co’s existing selection. Princess Diana would go on to become an icon of style, known for her impeccable taste. And her sapphire ring, once considered controversial, was given by her son, Prince William to Kate Middleton upon their engagement in 2010. Since the royal engagement, some gem dealers have reported an increase in sapphire sales by as much as 400%. It just goes to show you that even a readymade ring can be fit for a princess. Would you consider buying a semi-mount for your gemstone? Have you ever had a piece of custom jewelry made? Did your experience follow the steps discussed above? Share your experience with our readers.
A question that the GemstoneGuru team often get asked – is what colors are commonly available for a given Gemstone? Some gemstones come mostly in one color ( Emeralds are a good example), whilst Sapphires can have a diverse range of colors. Since color is one of the factors that can significantly influence the price of a gemstone, click here to learn more about your options before you pick a gemstone. You can also learn more about how custom jewelry is made.
Read more posts from the Gemstone Buying Guide series