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
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.