When it comes to jewelry or engagement rings, the word “custom” is translated as “money, money, money, and more money”. As a result of this, the vast majority of shoppers have stayed away from the “custom made” genre of jewelry, convinced that it is out of the budget and not worth the work, time, or money to attempt the journey.
Much of the cost associated with “custom jewelry” over the years was a result of the extensive physical labor involved. Concept drawings had to be sketched individually by an artist. Wax models had to be carved by hand, each change resulting in the need for a new carving to be done from scratch, and then molds had to be crafted by hand from the wax model. All of this human labor resulted in quite the investment, even before the customer was able to see any part of the design take shape.
However, with the explosion in recent technology…all that has changed. CAD/CAM software now takes the place of a sketch artist. Wax 3d printers now mean that a new wax model can be created in 15 minutes instead of an artist carving meticulously for a whole day, and advances in casting and milling have reduced the finish work of the actual metal piece to a minimum. All of these changes have put the realm of custom jewelry and engagement rings firmly within the grasp of the average retail shopper.
So what do you need to look for if you are thinking about embarking on the journey of a custom ring? We have made a short list of what is important so that you have an amazing experience and that the final product meets your expectations.
- Find a jeweler that has highly rated customer service! This is so important. Customer service is CRITICAL during the stages of building a custom piece from scratch, and if the jeweler you are working with doesn’t provide patient and thorough customer service, the overall experience will be frustrating and difficult. Here at Emma Parker & Co. it is common for us to exchange several hundred emails during the course of a custom project and each one is important to ensure our customers feel well taken care of and have faith in the process. We have worked on custom projects lasting anywhere from a few weeks to over a year.
- Work with a jeweler who uses experts! While the appeal of an “in-house one stop shop” might seem alluring, it’s important to remember that jewelry is very much like art, and even though many of the stages of custom jewelry have been changed by technology, at the end of the day, the piece will be created by an artisan. As with other forms of artistic skill, there are artists in the field who excel at certain styles and designs. By selecting a jeweler who is not an “in-house one stop shop”, but rather works with different artisans who specialize in varying types of design, you will be sure to receive the highest quality for the piece you are building.
- Make sure that you are not being over-charged for the opening stages of the work! It is not uncommon to be charged high prices just to begin the design. CAD fees of $295 - $450 are common in many retail jewelers when the word “custom” starts being used. It is unnecessary for you to pay these fees. For example, here at Emma Parker & Co. we require a $75 deposit to start a CAD drawing. This deposit is ultimately credited towards the purchase price, which means that we actually do not charge for the CAD drawing or the design modification. In addition, watch the price carefully as you modify the custom piece. It is not uncommon for prices to “bounce” around as modifications to the piece are made, even while the piece is still in the CAD stage. Do not fall for this! If you add 2 small pave diamonds to the shank on a simple pave ring, the price shouldn’t be a $700 jump. So be sure to mind your numbers, and if you don’t understand a price change, ask your jeweler to explain why the price changed.
Follow these simple steps and you will see that building a custom engagement ring or piece of jewelry can be very rewarding and quite affordable. Below are a few pieces that we have built for our customers. Every time we build a custom piece it is a joy to design something so personal… that will always be the main reason why I love this industry.
Tim Andre is the owner of Emma Parker & Co. and has been a professional in the world of jewelry for the past 14 years. During that time he has worked with thousands of customers to create beautiful engagement rings, both existing designs and custom made designs. Over the past 10 years, his passion has been to create extremely high quality jewelry pieces, the type once only found in exclusive retail for high cost, and make them accessible to everyone. Customer service and customer experience is the creed of Emma Parker & Co. and you will find Tim’s name and Emma Parker & Co.’s name mentioned in hundreds of 5 star reviews across the internet. Emma Parker & Co. will continuously seek to bring the finest level of quality jewelry and the highest level of customer service to its customers for as long as it exists.