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Custom made jewelry


#1

Hi, I am a freelance magazine writer and I am writing on custom
made jewelry and the process of a hand made piece. Please take a
few minutes to answer my questions and type your full name,
business, and title so that I may use you as a source. Thank you!
Julie Fisher JEF004@acad.Drake.edu

  1. Has custom made jewelry become a growing trend? If so, how?

  2. About how much does it cost to have a piece hand-made? (hr.
    rate of work and consultation.) How many meetings does it
    usually take?

  3. What do most people look for in a custom piece? What are
    people generally asking for?

  4. Are most people who are interested in custom made pieces,
    bringing in pictures and sketches?

  5. Do many people want custom made pieces without a particular
    design in mind?

  6. Which type of jewelry is asked for most in a custom-made
    piece? (necklace, bracelet, ring, broach…)

  7. Do most people that want custom pieces go for big or small
    jewelry?

  8. When is it cost effective to have a custom made piece? Is it
    usually?

  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
    out?

  10. What is the process a designer goes through to make a custom
    made piece? How do you make a wax mold and how does that convert
    to the final piece?

  11. Is there anything I missed that you could add? Thanks for
    taking the time. I appreciate it! -Julie


#2
  1. Has custom made jewelry become a growing trend? If so, how?

No more than say 1, years ago. The question must be asked with
the realization that econmics has dictated a least common
denominator approach to the bulk of jewelry made and sold.

  1. About how much does it cost to have a piece hand-made? (hr.
    rate of work and consultation.) How many meetings does it usually
    take?

Usually 1-2 meetings, and the majority of jewelers who do custom
work must work relatively cheaply until they acquire a
reputation/following.

  1. What do most people look for in a
    custom piece? What are > people generally asking for?

Like with other types of fashion,some folks generally want to
stand apart from the crowd.

  1. Are most people who are interested in custom made
    pieces, bringing in pictures and sketches?

No, most are seeking out a particular style of work.

  1. Do many people want custom made pieces without a particular design in mind?

Hardly, the design must stir something in the eye of the
beholder/

  1. Which type of jewelry is asked for most in a custom-made piece?

(necklace, bracelet, ring, broach…) Ring, by far

  1. Do most people that want custom pieces go for big or small jewelry?

Medium

  1. When is it cost effective to have a custom made piece? Is it usually?

Some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Others realize that a fine piece of jewelry is for the long haul,
and will pay accordingly.

Ringold’s Jewelers since 1908 9865 Bustleton Ave/ Phila, PA 19115
215-671-8190 Fax: 215-969-1803 Ringold@IX.netcom.com
Http://home.aol.com/REGALITE Manufacturing / Mining / Product
Development


#3

Hi Julie.My typing skills are minimal,so my answers may be brief. My
name is Scott Hepner.I am a designer/goldsmith/lapidary.I work at
the Diamond Cellar in Col.Oh…We have 12 goldsmiths and many of us
deal with customers to design jewelry.

1.Custom work has been a staple of our buisnes for a very long time.
In the 10 years I’ve been here,I’ve seen it grow in both quantity
and complexity.Our clientel is becoming more sophisticated,so we
have had to grow as well.

2.Cost can range from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of
hundred thousand dollars.A simple peice may be planned and
executed with only a couple of meetings.On the other hand,a large
project may require a team effort and alot of planning.Right now 5
of us are working on a trophy that is a scale model of a building.
Each of us has a task and we must coordinate our efforts around
the work of the others.This is takeing alot of meetings.

3.Most of the custom work we do is either a ring or a pendant.Many
of our customers are either wanting to remount stones from an old
mounting,or have a unique engagement ring made.

4.A few people bring in drawings,but most look to us to provide them
with ideas.Sometimes a quick sketch at the counter is all that is
needed.Other times,we do a selection of rendered drawings.Which we
do is largely determined by our customer’s ability to visualize
what we are talking about.

5.Many start out without a clear vision of what they want.Before
we start,we work out specific details on every aspect of a peice.
The last thing we want is to finish a peice only to discover the
customer wanted something else.

6.Rings first,pendants second.

7.A full range of sizes and prices.

8.An inexpensive peice is probably not.An expensive peice can be.The
labor has less impact on the cost of a more expensive peice.

9.Because it is hard to enforce a patent in this buisnes,it is
very important for us to respect the rights of other designers.

10.A design starts with the customer.Their likes,dislikes,and
expectations are surveyed.Next,a rendering is done.When a
design is agreed upon,manufacture begins.This can take several
paths.One design may be fabricated from wire or sheet metal.
Another may be carved from wax,or etched or engraved into the
metal. A wax may be done if a design involves complex curves or
paterns that would be hard to do any other way.The process begins
with a rough block of wax,and wax is removed until a precise model
of the design is realized.This can be done with almost anything
that will cut wax.I use files,burs,gravers,knives,and an
assortment of tools I have fashoned for specific purposes.The
finished wax will then be cast in the metal of choice.It is then
partialy finished,and any other work is done (stone
setting,sizeing,ect.). The last thing to be done is the final
polish. The customer has the option of seeing the progress at any
time, but will usually see the renderings,the wax model,and the
finished peice.

11.It’s the designers responsibility to fulfill the expectations
of a person they usualy dont know.This is where a good knowledge
of our craft,a willingnes to listen,and lots of experience make
all the difference.

I hope some of this makes sense.If not,feel free to clarify
anything with me.

               Scott Hepner

#4
  1. Has custom made jewelry become a growing trend? If so, how?

I’m a designer / goldsmith in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
Custom made jewelry is a growing trend only among a certain
target market. These are females about 28 - 50 years old with a
college education or higher and above average income. These
women pride themselves on being unique and often have a great
appreciation for all fine arts.

  1. About how much does it cost to have a piece hand-made? (hr.
    rate of work and consultation.) How many meetings does it usually
    take?

I don’t charge for initial consultation. A customer comes to my
studio and I will spend time getting to know her and her likes
and dislikes. Often she will have old gold and stones that will
be incorporated into the new piece. I draw a few color
renderings of the finished piece and estimate the time it will
take to make the piece (at $35 per hour) and estimate the metal
weight to calculate the material cost. The customer will than
come over for a second meeting to approve the piece. Often if
the piece is to be carved from wax and cast, I will set up an
additional meeting to approve the wax.

  1. What do most people look for in a custom piece? What are
    people generally asking for?

It depends what they’re looking for. It’s usually specific like
"my grandmother left me her wedding band with these diamonds in
it but it’s something I’d never wear and I’d like you to design
me a wedding band using her stones and the gold from the band".
While my designs are contemporary, my clientelle is conservative
compared to the rest of the country. My customers want a piece
that is comfortable, easy to wear, and “goes with everything”.
(this is tricky since I use alot of colored stones!). They are
not very likely to take fashion risks.

  1. Are most people who are interested in custom made pieces,
    bringing in pictures and sketches?

Many of them are. Now everyone wants those diamond solitaire
pendants in the De Beers ads and bring in those pictures or they
want me to copy something out of the Vail, Co. catalog with all
those trendy little bears. As an artist, I won’t copy another
designer’s work, but those pictures and sketches will give me and
idea of the customer’s taste. I really like when the customer
sketches out her own idea. This makes my job easier, since it’s
easier to work with somebody who knows what they want, rather
than somebody who isn’t really sure and goes back and forth.

  1. Do many people want custom made pieces without a particular
    design in mind?

Yes, and those customers are particularly difficult to work with!
I try to get an idea of their likes and dislikes and what the
purpose of the piece will be. (for a wedding, going out at night,
casual, or business) and work from there.

  1. Which type of jewelry is asked for most in a custom-made
    piece? (necklace, bracelet, ring, broach…)

Unfortunately, the ring. I feel this is the most limiting form
of jewelry from a design standpoint.

  1. Do most people that want custom pieces go for big or small
    jewelry?

About half and half.

  1. When is it cost effective to have a custom made piece? Is it
    usually?

It’s always cost effective when the customer has their own gold
and stones AND the gold to be used is of sentimantal value.
Also, having a one of a kind piece must be an important
consideration, or having a piece made and signed by a certain
designer. Most of the time when neither is important, a customer
can usually save money if I order and modify a ready made
mounting from a major jewelry findings company. The piece will
be custom, it that we will decide where the stones are placed,
etc…

  1. 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 out?

Most designers copyright their designs or at least stamp them
with a copyright symbol. Most people are not willing to take
the risk of getting sued. Major catalogs will say if designs
are copyrighted and not for reproduction. If neither is
applicable, the design is usually fair game.

  1. What is the process a designer goes through to make a custom
    made piece? How do you make a wax mold and how does that convert
    to the final piece?

I could write an entire book on this! I suggest you read some of
the literature suggested on the Orchid list. I fabricate most
of my pieces, which means I make them using gold sheet and wire
which I cut, bend and solder. I carve wax for cast pieces using
wax carving tools, not unlike dental tools, drills and sandpaper.
The wax is “invested” in a substance like plaster of paris which
hardens. To simplify the process, The invested flask is baked in
a kiln until all the wax burns out, leaving a negative space.
The metal is poured, or forced by centrifucal force into that
space, and the investment dissolves in water leaving a metal
piece which is identical to the wax model ( minus some
shrinkage).

  1. Is there anything I missed that you could add? Thanks for
    taking the time. I appreciate it! -Julie

What magazine is this for? If you want more or
photos or slides of my work, e-mail me at @Wendy_Newman

                         Wendy Newman
                         Designer / Goldsmith

#5
  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.

  1. About how much does it cost to have a piece hand-made? (hr.
    rate of work and consultation.) How many meetings does it
    usually take?

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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
style.

  1. Do many people want custom made pieces without a particular
    design in mind?

I get them to commit to a design…

  1. 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.

  1. Do most people that want custom pieces go for big or small
    jewelry?

Really depends on what they are comfortable with. I’ve done my
job if it is still a favorite piece 5-15 years later.

  1. When is it cost effective to have a custom made piece? Is it
    usually?

I like to think that my clients get excellent value for their
money- in materials, style, and longevity of workmanship.

  1. 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
    out?

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"

  1. 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

http://www.rick-hamilton.com
Richard D. Hamilton, Jr
http://rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton