Etsymetal Blog Carnival - Custom Orders

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What is a Blog Carnival?
It is EtsyMetal members who write an article on the same topic. Our December Topic:
Do you take custom orders? What kind of custom work do you do or not do? What has been your favorite custom piece?

Custom orders can be a lot of fun. I like working with my customers to make their wishes become real. Custom jewelry orders are gratifying in some way. I see it as a compliment that someone likes my skill and designs enough to commission and trust me with a special request.
The easiest custom orders are pieces that are based on designs I have already done before but need a little tweaking to suit that special person. It may be a different gem stone, or the setting gets changed a bit (higher or lower), the band of a ring gets wider or narrower etc. Those are easy to predict what it would take to make that jewelry piece. Material cost can easily be estimated and the time for design and making is predictable.

One one those was based on my Wrapped Pearl design. The customer had a gorgeous Tahitian pearl that she wanted to use with that design. However, since the pearl was so beautiful we decided to lower the setting to show off more of nature's perfection. Out came such a lovely design that now became one of my bestselling rings. It probably does not have the special meaning that her ring had with the pearl she got as an engagement gift but it is still beautiful with the Tahitian pearls I now use for that design.

On the other hand, I sometimes struggle with custom orders that go beyond the tweaking of an existing design. The responsibility of creating this special piece of jewelry can be a bit of a burden. There seems to be so much more pressure involved in finishing a commissioned piece. What I love about jewelry making is that I can just design with my own flow of creativity. With custom orders this flow dries out very fast. I start to self-doubt myself, my skill and taste. What if the customer does not like the finished piece? What if something goes wrong with the special, unreplacable gem stone they gave me to create this piece? Every time I agreed to make a ring with a gem stone they gave me, I totally started to freak once it came time to set the stone. One little second of not paying attention and that stone could be broken or chipped. Most jeweler or stone setter will not give any guaranties for stones they get from their customers, but its still a huge burden to deal with. So my rule now is not to accept their stone. I turn down such request because it does not seem to be worth the stress it creates for me. Maybe in a couple years I am a bit more relaxed about it.

One commission that turned out great was this Tetra ring with the customers Tanzanite.

Custom orders can take a lot more time than when I just design my own pieces and because of this time they usually cost more that other already made jewelry design. It all starts with a discussion about the piece, its size, stones and metals to be used and the price of the piece. A 50% pre-payment is required before I start making the model in wax. If the custom piece includes a stone they own, I have to get the stone before starting to make a model. This ensures the stone will fit perfectly in the cast metal piece.  If the piece is very different from my other design, I usually sent pictures to the customer for approval. After all agree the piece gets cast, set and finished.

Due to this time involvement I often can't commit to custom orders as a I still have a day job and only leaves me nights and weekends to work on my jewelry.
I sometimes make exceptions for really good friends like this special engagement ring.

This was my first CAD CAM ring. It is a collaboration between 3 architects to design the perfect engagement ring for another architect. The groom had the idea of the honeycomb texture with a marquise sapphire embedded. He originally had a way bigger stone in mind but it would not have worked for the honeycomb band. Since my own 3d skills were not good enough to actually model this in Rhino, I asked my ex-husband and also a good friend of the groom to model it. Not easy to work with a person on a design when you are in divorce with them. But it worked out and the ring came out beautifully.

A couple month later I was asked to design the wedding band that matched the previous engagement ring. Both rings are cast in palladium and set with natural Ceylon sapphires. The wedding band was modeled by hand. 

So yes, I do custom orders when they fit my schedule and skills, and are in line with my own design ambitions.

Please do not ask me to copy or reproduce another jeweler's design.

Please read the stories of other EtsyMetal members:
Inbar Bareket

Fancy Rubellite Tourmaline Tetra Ring

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I finally finished this Tourmaline ring with an awesome Rubellite fancy cut gem. The ring was modeled in wax and then cast in sterling silver.

I was actually dreading to do the stone setting for a while since I knew I had to try a new setting technique for that. I had to make a special pin burnisher from a old steel scribe. One can also use a old worn-out bur to make this miniature burnisher and then just mount it on a dowel or other handle. I followed the instructions in John Cogswell's book "Creative Stonesetting". The steel tool first needs to be annealed at the tip with a torch flame. When cooled it will be filed and polished to get a rounded tip. I started to set the stone by slightly tapping the heavy silver bezel with my hammer handset to lower the metal over the sides of the stone and basically tack it in place.

Then I started to rub down the edge of the metal rim by holding the burnisher in a 45 degree angle. This pushes the metal in a slight bevel over the rim of the stone. The pressure of the burnisher focuses on the metal rim. Since the steel was annealed it is softer than the tourmaline and therefore does not scratch the gem in the burnishing process. As the metal continues to move over the stone I raised the angle of the burnisher. At the end it leaves a beautiful uniform, reflective, inward-sloping rim. Then just the corners need some touch-up with gravers. I think overall this technique is actually faster and easier  then my typically hammer handset technique and it leaves this beautiful bright rim around a stone. I will try it out on a few different shapes in the future.

This ring is an incredible way to wear strong color. The pinks in this fancy cut Rubellite tourmaline cabochon is truly stunning. The dynamic angled setting displays the beauty of this rare cut stone with gorgeous natural inclusions.

The rubellite is a member of the family of tourmalines, and where its color shines in beautiful nuances is the range from red to shocking pink. I am drawn to a number of precious and semi-precious colored stones, mostly for their unique and beautiful natural color and/or inclusions. Inclusions should not be seen as flaws, but as proof of nature’s hand in creating an element of beauty.


Square 1 Ring Collection

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This week I officially released the new Square 1 collection. This is the refined version of the up-cycled ring I blogged about a couple weeks ago. I created an entire stacking ring set with this simple design.

Square sterling silver ring set with rounded sides and a textured and oxidized groove at the top. A 14kt square gold setting sits asymmetrical on the top groove of each ring and holds a rough diamond cube, a orange sapphire and a green sapphire. The grooves have a light texture and have been oxidized to give a higher contrast between the gold setting and the blackened silver. The entire set is 15mm wide.

The rings are also available as single rings. I always love how rough diamonds look in yellow gold. Its just a better color contrast then sterling silver.

The gold setting in this ring is 4mm square and the diamond ranges between 3.3 to 3.5 mm (0.4 to 0.5 points). The color of the diamond range from a warm yellow to a dark gray or whitish gray.

The new addition is a green sapphire ring. The band is 5 mm wide. The gold setting is 3.5 mm square and the natural sapphire is 2.6 mm square. The green sapphires range in color from a forest green, over olive to lime yellow.

The narrowest ring has a gorgeous orange Sapphire that looks like it is on fire. The band is 4 mm wide. The gold setting is 3 mm square and the natural sapphire is 2mm square. Vibrant Reddish Orange color, just awesome.

I am adding rings with blue sapphires and rubies in the next few weeks. If you are interested you can contact me about a price quote. All rings are available on Etsy and my web site. I will hopefully also get them onto the Artful Home site.

Birthday Present

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Today is my birthday and I forgot to give myself a nice birthday present. Duh...
I wanted make a nice ring for myself with this amazing blue Topaz stone that I chipped a couple month ago. With the small chip on the side I can't sell it to anyone anyways, but I can still make a ring for myself and hide this chip in the setting. Unfortunately I am not that well organized when it comes to preparing for my own birthday. So here is the day and I can still only stare at the loose gem stone. Bummer! I guess I can still make it into a nice Christmas present.

But I finished a nice new ring yesterday that I have an eye on to just keep for myself. That might be the substitute birthday present and not a bad one either. Love how it came out.

It has a beautiful light blue Drusy Chalcedony which somehow looks like it has tiny brown freckles under the drusy crystals. I added some 18 karat gold bubbles on the side that look like tree dimensional freckles. It's wired that lately I am starting to add some gold accent to some of my pieces. Must be the Holiday season being around.

The ring is somewhat a mix between my Tetra line and the Ergo rings. It has the freeform shank design  and the underside of the ring is molded against the stone. It's very comfortable and fits me perfectly. This might be the sign to keep it. I guess I will have to make up my mind in the next few days.
I don't have this exact stone again to make something in custom sizes for my shop. But I have some other drusies in similar shape, one is black and the other red. Those would look perfect with the little gold accents too.


Mandarines and Aquas

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I finally spend last night until the early wee hours to work on some photos and post new rings in my shop.
I created these smaller versions of Tetra rings  in late August but did not get the photo shoot done until yesterday. The Tourmaline ring on the right was posted in my shop since a couple weeks and just sold last week. It's now on it's way to the Netherlands to find a new home. The other two rings use quite rare stones: a fiery orange Spessartite Garnet and a rare intense blue Santa Maria Aquamarine.

The garnet family of gemstones is large and varied, but spessartite garnet is no ordinary garnet. Spessartite is a brilliant gem that has a refractive index even higher than sapphire. It shows an amazing sunny glow. I have one ring made in size 6.5 and still have 2 other similar stones available for custom sizes. One is a cushion cut like the gem in the ring and the other has a brilliant trillion cut.

As with most gems, the more intense shades of aquamarine are the most popular, and the intensity of the shade changes depending on the source of the stone. The most sought-after color is known as the Santa Maria aquamarine. Santa Maria aquamarines are a deep ocean blue and have an enchanting fire and brilliance. Found at a single mine in Brazil called the Santa Maria de Itabira mine, Santa Maria aquamarine stones are quite rare. Lose yourself in the rare, intense blue of this Santa Maria Aquamarine gemstone ring. The faceted aquamarine has a amazing blue color. It's size is 7 x 7 mm and it weights 3/4 ct.

EtsyMetal Blog Carnival: Business Success Secrets

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Each month, EtsyMetal artists write about a different topic related to the arts. This month it is:
Business Success Secrets:  

What does it mean to you to be "successful" in business as an artist?
This is just the second year I run my jewelry endeavor officially as a business. Or at least I believe I need to treat it like a business to get it from nowhere to somewhere. It is still a part time gig for now and the real success would be to be able to concentrate on this full time. So far I am measuring my success on the small steps I accomplish every day, every month, one ring at a time. The biggest reward are the compliments I get from my customers. If I made someone happy with a little art piece to wear, it's the best accomplishment I can hope for. 

There is something good about starting a business during a down economy. A slow economy means slow business. But that is true of a startup in a strong economy too. I can grow slow during these quiet times, and be positioned to grow explosively as the economy recovers. I can make all the errors now, learn from them and get stronger once things start up again. So far the second year has been so much better for me than the year before. Yes, I made a few mistakes, but I had at least to try them to see they are not working. Learning from errors is still the fastest way to learn. 

How do you walk the line between creativity and profitability? 
Having still a full time job as an architect, I don't have to worry too much about paying the bills with my art. It gives me the freedom to try out a lot of new things without worrying too much about if they sell or not. If I get good feedback and rings sell; great. But I don't sweat it, I can always melt those pieces down and make something new out of it. I often turn down request for custom pieces if I feel they don't fit in with what I am on right now. Sometimes they simply don't fit in my schedule and would get me overwhelmed. Being stressed out is not worth the money it might bring in. 
I definitely love to do new designs more than I like production work. I have so many designs in my head, there is never enough time to get them all out of my system and made into a tangible object. The few pieces I do multiples, I actually somewhat enjoy making since I still like the designs. However, I don't see myself making 100 rings of the same design. I probably start changing it up just to keep it fresh. Usually that's how new lines start. They grow out of designs I did before and usually they are better than the previous version. It's a design evolution. 

I strongly believe that you have to love what you make to be truly successful at it. If you don't stand 200% behind your creations they won't sell either. 

What is the best thing you've done for your business?
Connecting with like-minded artists like the Etsymetal team has been the best thing for me to get a step closer to my business goals. I learn so much from their point of views, hearing tips and tricks on how they got to where they are right now. Knowing there is always someone you can ask and get an answer. It's such a great resource. I also discovered the power of social media and how fast one can get ideas out there and get some feedback. I am still kind of a dork when it comes to blogging, Facebook and especially Twitter. But those have been a great tools to built customer relationships. I see people coming back to my store that saw a posting on my blog or Facebook. To use it to it's full potential I should really post more often, but it is a challenge sometimes to find that time.

Check out what my fellow etsymetal members think about this topic.

victoria takahashi / experimetal
Beth Cyr:
Twigs and Heather:
Nina Gibson:

Sparkly Black Drusy Ring

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If you like some sparkle in your live and love to wear the color black, this sleek ring is just right for you.

This amazing ring from the "Tetra" collection features a trillion Black Drusy Agate gem stone. The black colored stone is quite unique as tiny quartz crystals, called Drusy or Druzy, form within an agate, adding beauty and uniqueness. The ring fits a US size 7 but it can still be re-sized one size up (8 ). The stone is 14.4 mm by 14.3 mm. The sterling silver ring has a satin brushed finish and the bezel setting has a polished rim around the stone.

For any custom sizes I have a few other black drusy stones available that have a similar shape, some smaller, some wider or narrower etc. Everyone will yield a different unique ring.

And if you rather would like to add some color to your life you can choose from these 2 peach or the brown drusy.

A druzy (or, more commonly, drusy) is the term that refers to a blanket of tiny, sparkling crystals often found inside a geode or an agate. The sparkling appearance of druzy  is like that of spilled salt or sugar. By far the most commonly found drusy is quartz (agate or chalcedony), but many other species can exist in this form : chrysocolla, uvarovite garnet, rainbow pyrite, rainbow hematite, psilomelane, cobalto-calcite, calcite, dolomite, sphalerite, melanite garnet, demantoid garnet, azurite, dioptase, siderite, vanadinite and turquoise.

The formation of the tiny crystals occurs after molten rock begins to quickly cool, trapping gasses within it as it solidifies. The trapped gasses cause crevices and cavities in the cooling rock. Nutrient-rich groundwater later flows through these gaps and crevices, depositing layer after layer of minerals which crystallize on top of each other. The resulting encrustation is called druzy (drusy, druse, druses). This process doesn't take days or weeks, but a few hundred or even a few thousand years. Naturally colored quartz drusy is found almost exclusively in muted colors such as white, grey, tan and cream. Many quartz pieces, though, are dyed black or other vivid colors such as purple, red, green and blue, and some are coated with titanium or other metallic vapor which creates various iridescent finishes.


Fall Colors on Metal

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I just came back from my morning walk with the dogs and was inspired by all those beautiful fall colors out there: pumpkins on every porch, crazy Halloween decorations, colored Maple leaves on the concrete sidewalk, Bird of Paradise flowers with Hummingbirds over them and to top it all, a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. So I created my first ever Treasury list on Etsy: "Fall Colors on Metal".

It's a lot of fun browsing through the items of other amazing metal artist on the site. But it's  also very time consuming. With that I have to go back to the studio to work and be productive. Since I haven't bought any candy yet, I will have to hide in the back with the lights out to avoid all the trick-or-treating :)


New Luna Ring Collection

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Nodeform is releasing a new collection called "Luna".

These rings are inspired by the luminous light and soft contours of celestial forms. They are the tamer version of the earlier Alien Ring line. The first released rings show off some amazing bullet shaped gem stones: color changing Labradorite, white, peach and gray Moonstones, and one-of-a-kind Tourmalinated Quartzes.

Those are the stones I currently have available: 2 Labradorites, 4 peach Moonstones in different shades, one white and one gray Moonstone and 3 Tourmalinated Quartzes with different inclusion patterns. The cabochons are 11mm diameter and 10 mm high. Overall height is about 1.5 inches or 37.5 mm depending on the ring size. I haven't totally set the stones in the rings pictured yet. This way I can still remove them to offer any custom ring size.

Color changing Labradorite and a translucent peach colored Moonstone.

A clear Quartz with threads of black tourmaline running through it.

A bullet shaped natural Tourmalinated Quartz with black to reddish inclusions is the center piece of this art piece. The stone reminds me a bit of a Jackson Pollock painting with its tiny filaments running in different directions through the stone. A very unusual gem.

Some rings with color stones and gold accents are still in the works and will be release in the next few weeks.


Upcycled Recycled Repurposed Ring

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Precious metal prices are rising and it is time to bring my metal scrap to the refiner. last week I was digging through years of scraps, old and screwed up designs. I found a couple of pieces I created in my first year of jewelry making. One of those plain simple rings was kind of interesting but never really got the love it deserved from me. Instead of melting and recycling the metal I gave it new up-cycled look.

I renewed the texture in the grove at the top of square shaped ring band and added a square glowing orange sapphire in a 14 karat gold bezel setting. It now still has it's simplicity but with a new twist and added sparkle. The texture at the top is oxidized to provide a nice dark contrast to the yellow gold setting.

This ring is growing on me and became you favorite ring I wore all week long. It became part of my own jewelry box. I will probably add a new line with this design but need to revise the shank design a bit to make it cleaner and more comfortable. So watch out for new designs coming to Nodeform. This one will be called Square 1 ring. (I know it's very creative :))

South Sea Pearl White Gold Ring

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A white South Sea pearl can be a good alternative adornment for this classic ring design. Typically I had offered this only with a black Tahitian Pearl. I do like the contrast between the satin finish gray palladium gold and the beautiful white pearl.

This ring is shown with solid 18 karat palladium white gold. One advantage is that few if any people show any allergy or sensitivity as opposed to the more commonly used nickel based alloys. Palladium white gold does not yellow over time and  therefore rhodium plating is optional. But it is more a warm grayish color than the rhodium plated white gold rings seen in so many stores. Still, one advantage is that it can be re-polished quite frequently without having to send it back to be plated. This is really great for people how work a lot with their hands and will scratch the surface of a wedding band.

My preferred choice for wedding or engagement rings would be using palladiums alloys (950 PD). As part of the platinum group of elements, palladium shares some of platinum's physical characteristics, including durability, luster and a similar silvery-white color. Palladium is still cheaper that white gold and a lot cheaper than the really expensive platinum.
I haven't actually cast this design in palladium yet. So far I used palladium mostly for rings that required stone setting where this metal is really great to work with. I am really looking forward to seeing this design done in palladium metal.

Sooth Your Heart with a Rose Quartz Ring

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A new limited production ring is added to my shop:  sterling silver ring with a trillion Rose Quartz gem stone. Three paw like prongs hold this stone securely in place.

The cushion cut natural Quartz is hand set and the ring has a polished finish. Overall height of the ring is about 30 mm/ 7/8" inch. The height above the finger is about 10mm. The stone is 15 mm or 0.6"

I only have a total of 3 stones in the same size and cut for this design. So this will only be a very limited edition.

Rose quartz is one of the most desirable varieties of quartz. The pink to rose red color is completely unique, unlike any other pink mineral species. The color is caused by iron and titanium impurities.
And the best is: it heals your heart! "Rose quartz is an excellent heart-healing gemstone. It is a nature remedy that can be used for treating any issue that needs emotional healing. Rose quartz is a pink-colored crystal that carries a very gentle and soothing energy and gives comfort to anyone whose heart has been wounded." Who doesn't need a bit of a heart healing, we all go hurt at one time in our live.
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