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.

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