One of the most interesting aspects of my job is working with customers on custom jewelry pieces. Frequently this involves resetting diamonds in 18K gold or platinum. After wearing a wedding ring for many years or inheriting a gemstone from an older relative, people often look to breathe new life into a deeply meaningful stone. Using my existing designs as a starting point, we discuss, sketch, and go back and forth – whether in person or through text and email -- to come up with a new piece of jewelry, perhaps a ring, necklace or bracelet. Sometimes this can be tricky because the customer may have several stones they want to include in the design, however, a ring – particularly one that’s going to be worn every day - has limited space. Too many stones leave little room for the design itself and I try to explain that less is more in this case.
Often, custom work involves a variation of one of my jewelry designs. In this case, the piece is personalized for a particular event like a birthday or an anniversary. This can be as simple as using a person's birthstone in one of my existing necklace designs. For some customers, it’s creating a necklace using the birthstones of children or grandchildren. For one customer, with three grandchildren, it was an 18K gold necklace with garnet, aquamarine, and sapphire. When a fourth grandchild was born, I added a pear-shaped diamond to complete the family.
Sometimes a custom jewelry job is open-ended. A customer might come to me because she or he wants to create a special present for someone and all the customer knows is that the design has to involve a certain gemstone. One customer, for example, wanted emeralds set in a specially designed pair of 18K gold earrings. In this case, we started from scratch, working to create earrings that were just right. It was a productive collaborative process that led us to a finished pair of earrings that pleased us both. There have been many times that this kind of custom work has challenged me to move in new artistic directions.