Being On The Same Page: Know What You Want When You Look For Custom Jewelry

Custom jewelry gives you a chance to have your gemstone-and-precious-metal dream come to life without having to go through years of training to become a jeweler and lapidarist. And it seems like most jewelers now offer a form of customization. Yet, if you go to a few jewelers, you'll find a range of customization opportunities that may or may not match what you had in mind.

How Customized Is the Actual Jewelry?

"Custom" in the jewelry world can mean a few different things. One is what many people think of as custom, where you and the jeweler work on a unique design with gems the jeweler either facets themselves (if they have a lapidarist on staff) or buys from a separate lapidarist who facets them to the jeweler's instructions. Another type of "custom" is similar, but the jewels are pre-faceted and already available either in the jeweler's own inventory or from a gem supplier/jewelry company.

The third type of "custom" jewelry creation is a mix-and-match process in which you choose your stone and setting from lists of available options. So, the jeweler might offer ring metal in sterling silver, 18-karat yellow gold, and rose gold, and you'd choose one of the three. Then you might choose the band design from a list of five or ten options, the diamond cut from a list of options, and so on.

All of these are valid ways to customize jewelry; you just need to know what you want and find a jeweler who offers the level of customization you desire. A jeweler who creates bespoke jewelry might not have those mix-and-match lists, and a jeweler who gets their diamonds pre-faceted from a major diamond company won't be able to facet them for you. Keep in mind, the more bespoke and original you want the jewelry to be, the longer it will take to get the finished piece.

What Amount of Metalwork Is Involved?

Metalworking, like lapidary and jewelry design, is a skill that takes years to learn. Some jewelers are master metalworkers who can create very nice bands and settings that you don't see elsewhere. Others have basic skills to resize rings and repair other metal jewelry, for example. Yet others don't do metalworking at all and either contract that out or have a specific supply available from other companies. What are you looking for in terms of metal? If you want an idea you had made real, you'll likely have to seek out an independent designer who handles everything in the design and creation process. If you simply want a basic piece with a different stone than what you've been able to find in premade offerings, most commercial jewelry companies offer the ability to switch out a stone.

If you want custom jewelry, reach out to jewelers in your area.