Info Articles

Custom Jewelry: Defining the Terminology

According to Merriam – Webster, Custom can be defined as:

  1. made or performed according to personal order
  2. specializing in custom work or operation

Well ‘custom’ jewelry is our bag, baby – but if you do a quick Google, it appears that it’s also everyone else’s bag, too. So let’s talk about what we m ean when we say that we create Handmade Custom J ewelry. It’s not incorrect to label your inventory or your project ‘custom’ if you: 1) choose what stone goes in a pr e – made mounting; 2) choose a metal for a premade mounting; 3) select components such as a head and a shank from a catalogue of pre made findings and assemble them; 4) modify an existing design with additional stones or components. These actions do meet th e definition of ‘custom’ as stated above, and it is these processes that the vast majority of custom jewelers use to create.

It is NOT what we do.

When we say ‘custom’ we mean that there are options for you, and for u s as designers, at every step of the process. And I mean every step.

First, we work with dealers and miners all over the world to collect gemstones in the rough. We try to cut as many of the colored gemstones we use ourselves and we cut in the American precision cutting style. What that means is that each gemstone we cut from rough is unique; the stones are cut for performance and color, not weight. We d o not cut to calibrated sizes, s o no two gemstones are ever the same and we create shapes, patterns, and sizes that are not interchangeable.

When the gemstones are not interchangeable, using pre fabricated parts, or findings, is of limited use. So we make our own. We use the lost wax casting method to create each and every setting by hand. Lost wax casting is the process of hand car ving a piece in a soft wax first, then investing it in plaster cylinder where the wax is burned out, or ‘lost’, and casting the gold into the negative space left by the lost wax. We hand carve our waxes; we do not use CAD or 3D printers. While we do use s ome thematic concepts and design elements over again, every mounting is made for a unique gemstone, hence they are themselves unique. Our inventory is all our own work, we do not carry stock that we have not created ourselves.

The choices when building a setting are endless; when we create jewelry for our own inventory, we make those choices. When we create a piece for and with a client, the client gets to make those choices. Unique gemstones + endless setting possibilities= real, true custom jewelry. It’s one of the benefits and downfalls of real custom jewelry design: You can have anything you want! Now you have to know what you want! But we can help you with that last part, as well.

Are we the only jewelers in the world to build truly custom work? Of course not, but it is becoming rarer to find the craftsmen who do it all. We’d like to stay a part of that group because we feel that handcrafting each pieces gives us greater flexibility as designers and greater control over the quality and materials we use. We’d like to be a part of keeping the traditional methods in use for the industry. And we’d like to continue to make pieces that can be handed down through the generations.

We’ve created a series of videos that lets you follow along as we select a piece of gemstone rough, cut the stone, design a setting, carve the setting, cast and mold the setting, set the stones, and finish and polish the piece to really highlight how we make our work and we hope you’ll enjoy learning more about the processes we use everyday.

Bring us your family diamonds, choose one of our custom and precision cut gemstones, incorporate symbols and stories that are meaningful to you. Or choose one of our finished pieces from the showcase. You’ll know that we have taken care at each manufacturing step to make aesthetic and structurally sound choices that will set your jewelry apart; that your jewelry will not look just like anyone else’s; that you have worked with craftsmen and artisans on a unique, original, handmade piece of custom jewelry!