Passion in jewellery
September 30th 2016
We are the same in our uniqueness
My job as a jeweller is to create pieces of jewellery that a particular customer loves. We all have varying tastes to a degree and that is why it is very difficult to design a piece that every member of a specific group will like.
What I mean here is that it is much easier to design a piece of jewellery, show it to as many people as you can and hope you and get a subgroup that likes the design. That is why so few offer custom design. It takes time and effort from both the customer and the jeweller.
My primary concern when custom designing/making jewellery is to ensure that the person that will wear the piece will love to do so. In this case my customer had a a very specific design in mind. I had to guide her through the practicalities of what she had designed and offer her suggestions to bring it to reality.
What I had to start with
This ring was to be made from a collection of pieces of jewellery. No new materials were to be added. All diamond sizes, gold colour and purity were predefined. We had to work with this and this only, the hardest type of design work. Fortunately this customer has been with me for many years now and knew a fair bit about the process involved.
This ring was to be a tribute to my customers Christian faith. The design was very clearly laid out to recycle some of her existing pieces of jewellery. In the design sketch she created for me the main features are Jesus in Hebrew lettering and the heart.
The diamond arrangements would primarily be driven by the use of existing diamond sizes and quantities.
Meeting the budget
The very first obstacle we met with this piece was budget. Everything can be made to a price but the compromises can result in poor quality and something looking less than it should.
When this design was first brought to me the quote was over her budget. I advised my customer why and the compromises she would have to make to meet her budget. My advice to her was to not compromise and wait until she could afford to make it how she wanted.
She took the advice and the piece went on hold for months.
Refining the design
With so much of the design very clear in her mind and not so clear in mine, we spent a lot of time via email refining the design digitally before I made the ring. Far too many refinements to run through here but as an example in this photo we were discussing the size of the heart.
To give her more perspective of the design as she would wear it I digitally added the size options to a photo of her hand to scale. I do his often in the design process.
The draft - part of the custom design process
We were now at the draft stage. The draft is a big investment in time for me that I do to ensure that the customer is happy with what I make for them and that the finger size is exactly right.
I only ever make the draft when we are nearly 100% sure the design is right. Slight changes can be made but we need to be pretty decided on the design. I do not makes changes and then a draft again.
This customer did not live in Cairns so up until now all the work had been done remotely via email other than the intital dropping off and measuring of the jewellery to be recycled.
Once the draft was ready I express posted it to her with a return bag enclosed. The draft is roughly finished, made in Sterling silver, set with Cubic Zirconias and then gold plated. I did not have a Cubic Zirconia the same size as her main diamond so it was left unset.
It is not the real thing but it serves the purpose very well. After she had viewed and tried on the draft she sent it back to me in the enclosed freight bag.
Making some changes and taking my advice
Sometimes what a customer wants is either not possible, increases the complexity outside our budget/quote or could result in a piece of jewellery being less than durable. We ran into a few of these issues just as we neared the end of the design process.
After wearing the draft my customer want to make two changes.
- lower the height of the heart
- raise the height of the Hebrew letters
The changes to the height of the heart were no problem other that we were limited in how low we could go by the depth of the existing diamond that was to be set into it. To do this we step back into the digital design process to decide on a lower height relative to that used in the draft.
The second change request was a concern to me. The letters already had extremely thin sections and the higher those letters got the more prone they would be to being bent out of shape. They also would become harder to make.
After I explained the reasons why my customer understood, took my advice and we moved on.
The finished ring
This ring was exactly what my customer wanted, she loves it. It may not be your cup of tea but that does not matter. Passionate customers, people that care about the quality of their jewellery and what it represents are the best to work with.
That passion might come from their faith, heritage, engagement, wedding, family or whatever. Customers that are prepared to put the time and thought into their jewellery are what keeps me in love with what I do.
I am very grateful for being asked to make this ring. Thanks Lyn!