1. Has custom made jewelry become a growing trend? If so, how?
I've been making custom pieces for clients for over 25 years and
there has always been a market. Some people still shop in chain
stores or on Shopping networks- but handmade jewelry is usually a
better quality product.
2. About how much does it cost to have a piece hand-made? (hr.
rate of work and consultation.) How many meetings does it
It usually take 2 meetings- typically an 18k gold ring mounting
might cost $400-600 plus the I do't charge for a
consultation- and I refund if I don't get it right. I want my
clients to be happy, and over the years have had a refund rate of
well under one percent.
3. What do most people look for in a custom piece? What are
people generally asking for?
Unusual design, the experience of having something custom made,
better control over design and gem color- things like that.
4. Are most people who are interested in custom made pieces,
bringing in pictures and sketches?
Some have very specific ideas, some have seen my work and want
me to do something for them- Either way I have to find out what
they want. I usually ask them to bring favorite jewelry pieces
with them, I can then see what they like to wear- size, color
5. Do many people want custom made pieces without a particular
design in mind?
I get them to commit to a design....
6. Which type of jewelry is asked for most in a custom-made >
piece? (necklace, bracelet, ring, broach...)
I'm known more for rings but I'll make any wearable piece.
7. Do most people that want custom pieces go for big or small
Really depends on what they are comfortable with. I've done my
job if it is still a favorite piece 5-15 years later.
8. When is it cost effective to have a custom made piece? Is it
I like to think that my clients get excellent value for their
money- in materials, style, and longevity of workmanship.
9. Is there such a thing as a patented design which can not be
reproduced for a customer? If so, how do you go about finding
I try not to reproduce copyrighted jewelry, but most really good
designs are centuries old- one of my mentors used to say
"jewelers have been doing it this way for 500 years"
10. What is the process a designer goes through to make a custom
made piece? How do you make a wax mold (wax model) and how does
that convert to the final piece?
I use wax when it is appropriate- fabricate directly in gold, or
sometimes a combination. Whatever makes the outcome right. I
sculpt better than I draw. Wax models are directly cast by a
process called lost wax casting in a silica plaster mold.
Richard D Hamilton, Goldsmith Edgartown Jeweler's Studio 261
Upper Main Street Edgartown, MA 02539-1233
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr