Different Types of Custom Work
As we enter the new year, I’d like to take some time to talk about one of the major things we do here at the store, which is custom work! This can mean a lot of different things and can look very different depending on what your needs are. For us, there are four types of custom work, and I will talk a little bit about each in this entry, and then I will do a more in-depth entry about each one in the coming weeks.
1) CAD: CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, which is where we use computer software to create a “model” of a ring or piece of jewelry inside a computer program. We can use the software to take a photo like “render” of the item, allowing you to get a good idea of what the item might look like before we get started. We can make changes to the design with ease, and depending on the program we are using, we can sometimes sit down and work directly with you to create a design “on the fly,” with a one on one collaboration! We can get input, make the changes, and give pricing and time estimates right on the spot. This is one of our most popular methods of custom design. Once the design is approved, we can use that model to cast up the model using traditional methods. This is a great choice if you have a style in mind that you like, or parts of different designs that need to be fused together to make a new ring. We can also make the ring take different size stones… so if you have a style you like but can’t find a mounting that works with your inherited or gifted stone… then we can help!
2) Hand Carve a Wax: This is how things were done when I first started in the jewelry business. One of our talented jewelers will start with a block of wax, and using carving tools, create a design from a sketch. We don’t use this often, but sometimes it comes up as being an effective method for producing an item, such as a contour ring or design. The upside to this method is that wax is produced that can be handled. This is also the downside, as if there is a change to be made, we must make it to the existing wax, or start over… which mean this is usually a more laborious method (for us) to create a design. Once approved, the wax is cast by traditional methods.
3) Hand Fabrication: this is one of my personal favorite methods of creating jewelry! We melt down the metal and cast into an ingot. Depending on the application, the ingot could be rolled into a sheet to have component parts sawn out, or it could be rolled into flat or square stock, so that we can create a band or ring shank. So, if you have existing metals, such as old rings, earrings or pendants, we can often melt them down and remake them into something else. The labor cost for this sort of work is higher, but sometimes it is offset by the savings you get from using your own gold, or other metal.
4) Assembly: Sometimes a project might call for taking an existing ring and modifying it. For example, we can take an existing wedding band, and add bezels or other findings to create a new ring, which is really a “marriage” of different existing parts.