Non exclusive design - when and why
16th August 2019
Small things and big hours
As a jeweller who makes mostly one off designs, today I wanted to talk about when and why it is sometimes best to use standard repeatable designs.
Often coming up with a design and deciding how to best manufacture it can take many hours of planning, trial and error.
A lot of time went into the design and creation of the above one off wedding ring. Shape, size and position of details can all be critical in how well the piece turns out. It is often the not so obvious things, that little bit of extra effort that can take a piece from okay to something really special and unique.
I also find sometimes what looks good on paper does not have the same appeal in metal. Tweaks in detail can be initiated by an idea that springs to mind, feedback from the customer, budget considerations and/or many other factors.
A lot of fun and a lot of hours
The Warup design exclusively made for Zenadth Kes Islanders is a great example of something that looks rather simple to some but was a huge investment in time for me. I would say 60 to 80 hours, possibly more, went into that design.
Who is going to pay me for that amount of design and development cost for a single piece? No-one.
Once I had the design of the Warup roughly formed I then needed to figure out the best way to economically reproduce it. Often I am creating something that I have never made before.
Numerous trial versions of the drum were made before a single piece was sold. To this day I still refine the manufacturing process of the Warup pendant.
The feature of the Warup design that makes it even more special to me is that the same pendant can be worn both vertically and horizontally.
The pendant is 3.5cm in length but heavier and larger chains could not pass through the initial design. To solve that I created a version shown above for vertical only wear but with a bail that could be modified to fit any size chain.
Another Zenadth Kes example
With jewellery we are working in millimetres and often at those small sizes some detail is not practical or economically viable to manufacture. I need to decide/discover what detail I can safely remove and the item still represent what it is supposed to. This part of the design process often involves many trials in metal.
When I was asked to make a Wild Yam Leaf totem wedding ring a few years ago I asked the customer “Do you want me to design this exclusively for you?”
When a Zenadth Kes Islander agrees for me to be able to re use any totem design created for them for others of the same totem, it allows me to spread that design cost over potential future sales.
Two years to recover some design cost
I wrote “potential” sales because I have no idea when I will use that design again in a limited market. In the case of the Yam Leaf Totem it was a couple of years before I got to reuse twice two in the base of some Warup pendants.
With three sales of that design I am still yet to recover the initial time I spent in it’s creation two years ago. It is for this very reason that I am often reluctant to invest time in developing new totem designs. Sorry :(
Spending almost no time on design
The ring shown above was used by a customer to propose. It is one of the standard solitaire designs I make. The diamond selected was a 1 carat round brilliant cut of F colour and Vs2 clarity.
With my proposal ring system we are almost certain that the ring will be remade either to finger size or with design changes after the proposal. Because of this, standard designs are of great use as they free up as much time as possible for the couple to recreate the ring together with me.
Sometimes the designs I am asked to make cannot be shared for personal or cultural reasons. In most of these cases the customer is providing very specific symbols and shapes. For the design my task is to make them work in the given piece of jewellery rather than create from scratch..
For the last year most of the Zenadth Kes pieces I have made are like this so it might seem like I have been quiet but it has been a very busy year for Zenadth Kes pieces.
Ask - your jewellery, your choice.
The main thing is to feel free to ask me. I will explain your options for exclusive and non exclusive design and you can then make an informed decision before committing to anything.
Some designs have been made over and over again so uniqueness is found in the gem used or a small design enhancement.
Some customers love the fact that sharing the design initially created for them forms a special group amongst those that wear the design, at the same time making the piece more affordable.