Create a Unique Piece That Will Last Forever
Have you ever purchased a piece of jewelry thinking, “This is not exactly what I want, but it is close enough”. Was it because the retailer only sold “finished jewelry” that was ready to wear out-the-door. Perhaps the retailer sold “customized” pieces, but they were already in finished form, preventing you from expressing your own ideas in the “customized” piece.
Consumers have generally purchased jewelry in “finished” form since the Pharaohs ruled Egypt. As such, consumers were held captive by the selection of finished jewelry offered by the retailer. There have always been jewelers that offered custom design services to their customers, but the number of these jewelers has always been outweighed by the number of retailers offering only finished pieces. Consumer options have traditionally been limited to the finished pieces offered at their local “brick-and-mortar” retailer.
Enter the internet. Consumers are no longer limited to purchasing jewelry offered by their local jeweler/retailer. Now consumer can purchase jewelry sold by retailers throughout the United States. Furthermore, consumers are no longer limited to finished jewelry. Instead, consumers can purchase gemstones and mounts directly from gem dealers and wholesalers. They can then have the custom piece they always wanted designed and fabricated by a custom jewelry designer for a one-of-a-kind item.
Why Buy a Gemstone in Lieu of Finished Jewelry?
Creating a Unique Piece That’s Forever
There are several advantages to purchasing a gemstone from a gem dealer. First, and most important, you can purchase exactly the type of gemstone, color, quality, size and cut that you want (for example, when is the last time you saw a “Tsavorite Garnet” or “Montana Sapphire” at your local jewelry store). You can then work with a local jeweler that provides custom services to design the piece that you have always dreamed of. Designing jewelry is not difficult or overwhelming. You probably already have ideas of pieces you would like. If not, a good resource for ideas is the internet. Searching “custom jewelry” or the name for a specific type of gemstone will yield hundreds of images to consider.
Most towns and cities have at least one jeweler, if not several, that provides custom services. Finding the right custom jewelry designer is similar to selecting an engagement ring, except you are not just selecting the custom piece, you are selecting the custom jeweler who will design and make it. Custom jewelry is a piece of art, and each custom jeweler has his or her own style. It is best to visit several custom jewelers and view their work. If you have already purchased a gemstone, don’t hesitate to show them. You should also discuss your ideas with them, and listen to their recommendations. They may recommend enhancing your gemstone with small diamonds, or matching your stone with other colored gemstones to create a suite of gems, for a really unique piece. We constantly stress to our customers that there are many well-respected custom jewelers available, but their personal style may not represent your own, so shop around for the best service. Remember, not everyone likes a Picasso or a Rembrandt. You may prefer an elegant piece to be worn at the Academy Awards, or casual pieces that can be worn every day. The custom jewelry represents a piece you will own and wear forever, and choosing the custom jeweler that matches your style will give you the opportunity to design a piece that you will cherish.
Below is an example of a piece that actually started as a rough piece of tourmaline. After faceting, the gemstone weighted 44 carats, which is large by any standards. A stone this large is difficult to design around due to its size. We showed this gemstone and interviewed several different custom jewelers, and each had his or her own ideas and recommendations, from enhancers to pendants to slides. We ultimately decided to choose the slide design. The final piece is simple yet stunning. The designer, with his experience, was able to use the stone’s size to his advantage, making a perfectly matched piece that is not overwhelmed by but also does not detract from the center stone, and creating a custom piece that can be worn at the grand ball or the Academy Awards.
Below is another example of a custom piece. The center stone is a Tsavorite garnet in a pear cut. The custom jeweler recommended a bezel setting to protect the sharp facets of the gemstone. He also added two diamonds to enhance the center stone and give the ring more elegance.
In each of the above examples, the jewelry piece started with a gemstone and some ideas. The custom jeweler then designed the piece around the gemstone, recommending several different options, in each instance taking note of the customer’s ideas and tastes. The finished pieces are clearly “custom”, and draw both attention and compliments whenever and where ever worn.
Cost can become a consideration when designing a piece of custom jewelry. Different jewelers have different pricing scales, so shop around, not only for a jeweler that fits your style, but also for the jeweler that fits your budget.
Living in Southern California, we are fortunate that there are several custom jewelry designers located nearby that provide excellent services. While we are not familiar with custom jewelers in every part of the U.S., our contacts can usually identify a few custom jewelers in every area. Don’t forego the opportunity to purchase the gemstone you like because you do not know a local custom jeweler – ask us. There are also services that can provide a cad/cam design of a custom piece, based on your ideas or specifications, to you for your consideration. The advantage is that you can see what the finished piece will look like. The designs can then be provided to your local jeweler.
Be aware that not all custom jewelers will accept a customer’s gemstone. There are several reasons for this. Not all are comfortable mounting someone else’s gemstone due to liability concerns, but you may then ask yourself whether this partially reflects the jeweler’s level of confidence in his or her skills. Other jewelers may simply refuse to mount a customer’s gemstone because he or she did not profit from the gem sale. Don’t be dissuaded by such jewelers, since there are many jewelers that would be happy to provide their services and design a piece using your own gemstones.
Gem Treatment Disclosure
Another advantage is that a reputable gem dealer will be able to advise you whether the gemstone you are purchasing has been treated in any way. Common gem treatments are heat, oiling, irradiation, and diffusion. For example, most sapphires are heat treated. These treatments are accepted in the industry, and are commonly performed, especially for gemstones mounted in finished jewelry. However, these treatments should be disclosed to consumers. In fact, federal law requires disclosure of any treatment that affect the value of the gemstone. Unfortunately, many jewelers and retail salespersons are not aware whether the jewelry they sell contain gems that have been treated. Disclosure is extremely important, especially if the treatment causes a $100 gemstone to appear as though it were a $1,000 gemstone. You could be purchasing a ring or pendant based on appearance, without realizing that the gemstone is not the quality you think it is.
By viewing a gemstone before it Is set, you can also see the quality of the gemstone before you purchase it. Inclusions and other flaws can be hidden once mounted in jewelry by prongs, bezels, backing and other means. Viewing a gemstone before it is mounted is always a good method of determining the quality of the stone. Close-up pictures of gemstones are always a good start to evaluate quality, but close-up videos are generally better. A video shot with a macro lens will magnify every flaw and inclusion in the gemstone. It is similar to a close-up picture of a person’s face – every blemish is visible. For this reason, the quality of a gemstone is generally much better than the video indicates. A video will also provide a better evaluation of the gemstone’s quality than a set of 360 degree stills, which are a series of individual images strung together.
Cost of the Gemstone
In many instances, the cost of purchasing a gemstone from a gem dealer is less than the cost of the gemstone in a finished piece of jewelry. The overall cost of a piece can be lowered further if the consumer has the gemstone mounted in a prefabricated setting (mounting). These mountings are readily available, and an experienced jeweler can usually find a setting that will fit your stone.
This article is meant to introduce consumers to the benefits and considerations of designing a custom piece using his or her own gemstone. We will be posting future articles regarding the considerations of purchasing a gemstone including various treatments, the transformation of a gemstone from rough to finish, and where to find gemstones in the U.S. If there is a topic you would like us to address in a future article, please do not hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org