Custom Jewelry Process

Below are the common steps in the process of creating a piece of custom jewelry or a custom engagement ring. I follow the process through a diamond and emerald engagement ring and a few other rings to illustrate other possible steps or techniques.


Developing The Idea

The piece begins with an idea for a new piece of jewelry. Ring are the most commonly custom piece of jewelry to be custom made; however, Marsha and I have made every kind from neckpieces to cuff links to pins and bracelets. Inspiration for pieces vary. Here are a few ideas:

  • Find the perfect way to wear a new diamond or gemstone
  • Redesign my current ring, bracelet, neck piece, etc.
  • Create a ring with heirloom diamonds or gemstones
  • Build the perfect engagement ring from two (or more) rings seen elsewhere
  • Design a unique piece around a gemstone

Marsha and I will sit down with you learn about what you are wanting. We will ask a serious of questions to gain an understanding of what you like and why. Often, clients bring in pictures of rings to give us an idea of what they want. Then, we will analyze what you have told us and based on our experience engineer a ring around what you want and what is feasible. During this time, we will also work with you to optimize your budget. We will make suggestions about where to save money and where to spend more money. We will make notes and sketches of the direction.

Drawing the idea for an emerald and diamond enagement ring

Designing The Model

From the idea, we begin making a model of the ring. To the make the model, we take the information including specific information about diamonds and gemstones to use in the piece. These models are made in two different ways: computer assisted design (CAD) or craving a wax model. Most jewelers will specialize on one method and always recommend it. CAD has revolutionized jewelry-making by allowing for different types of settings and designs; however, it has its limitations. Hand carving waxes is the way Marsha and me have made custom jewelry for decades. Whichever way we make the model, you are involved. We seek your approval and expect some alternations to design. CAD renderings give you a good picture of what the ring will look like. We sometimes schedule a visit to discuss the ring while being able to make changes in realtime. With intricate waxes, you will come in and view them.

Once the model has been approved, we send it to a casting house. They use sophisticated technology and techniques like hot isostatic pressing or HIP to ensure the ring is properly cast into whichever metal we like (silver, gold, palladium, or platinum).


Assembling The Components

Hand carving a wax for a shadow diamond wedding band
Marsha checking my work to see if the side diamonds I selected were correct.

After we receive the rough casting and it passes our quality checks including making sure the casting does not have porosity, we begin assembling the necessary components. Normally, during the first stage, we would selected a center diamond or gemstone. At this point, I pull side diamonds and gemstones that will fit in the casting. I am take time to make sure the side gemstones, known as melee, match in both size and quality. Often, a custom piece will jewelry will incorporate other parts including a die-stuck head, a bail, or chain. At this stage, we will gather all the components to be certain the piece will turn out as you and I discussed and decided.

Hand carving a wax for a shadow diamond wedding band
Gauging the diameter and grading the quality of small melee diamonds to see how they will fit and look in a custom piece of jewelry

From Many Components Into A Finished Piece Of Jewelry

Once the casting and all components are assemble, Marsha begins crafting. The exact process she follows depends somewhat on the project. Normally, she begins by cleaning up the rough casting using a file and sanding wheel. Next, she assembles parts by welding them together. Then, the diamonds and/or gemstones are set with the largest one being set last. The final step is to apply the correct finish, which normally means polishing the piece.

Setting accent diamonds in an engagement ring Setting the center gemstone (an emerald) in an engagement ring Hand polishing the prongs of an engagement ring Polishing the shank of the emerald and diamond engagement ring

The Completed Piece And On-Going Care

Once the crafting is finished, we quality check it to make sure we built it correctly, and it is what you want. Then, we will photograph the piece and complete a full insurance appraisal. Both of which we can send to you for your records.

The piece belongs to you; however, we offer free clean and checks to ensure you get maximize wear out of your piece.

Setting accent diamonds in an engagement ring Setting the center gemstone (an emerald) in an engagement ring Hand polishing the prongs of an engagement ring Polishing the shank of the emerald and diamond engagement ring
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