Considering custom designing an engagement ring or a special piece of jewelry, but feeling nervous of what that involves ? Don’t worry, with the help of talented talented illustrator, K-Fai Steele, we have broken down the steps for Bario Neal’s custom design process so you know just what to expect.
We love to work with customers on personal and meaningful projects. We pride ourselves in designing work that combines ethically sourced materials, unique and personal design, and handcrafted finishes. We strive to be accessible to a range of budgets. If you are interested in pursuing your own custom project, please contact us by filling out our Custom Design Questionnaire and, if you are local to visiting Philadelphia or New York, we strongly encourage making an appointment to meet with us in person.
Getting an Estimate
After filling out our Custom Design Questionnaire – or when meeting with us at one of our locations – we’ll talk through your plans and offer our initial design suggestions. We love when clients come to us with references, and ideas – but keep in mind that we do not replicate other designers’ work. During this first step, we will review our contract, policies, and provide a basic estimate.
Design Direction and Approval
Once we’ve settled on a design direction, the next step is to sign the contract and give payment. From there, we will begin sourcing your stones and finalizing the design.
We stock a gorgeous array of gemstones of the highest ethical quality, however, you also have the option to seek out ethically sourced non-stock stones and cuts. We can’t start production until all the stones are in-house, so remember that sourcing that just-right gem of your dreams does extend the lead-time. Similarly, design changes and additional models can increase the lead-time. We love designing highly crafted durable jewelry that is truly special for each client. We promise that the time and effort will be totally worth it once you see your jewelry.
We will send you photos of available stones (usually upside down) in layouts. These layouts help visualize the design, while additional photos can show you the setting options, shanks, and additional finish details. We do try to provide the most accurate images of layouts and stones, but keep in mind that gemstones become slightly darker or more saturated once set and that colors in photos may vary on different screens. You’re also welcome to make another appointment at one of our locations to view the layout in person if we have the gemstones in stock.
Making a Model
Once you have approved the design, and we have received all of your stones, we will begin making your model either out of metal, wax, or in a digital 3D CAD rendering. Once the model or illustration is complete, we will send over images to you for approval. For 3D renderings, the stone colors are not accurate, but the shape, dimensions, and layout illustrates how the ring will be cast in the metal. Note that models are always bulkier than the final jewelry to account for any finishing work and shrinkage in the casting. Moreover, the prongs and setting elements will be sticking straight up so that we can bend them down to securely set your stones in the actual model. Review your model in detail and make any changes at this step! One revision to the model design is complimentary. After that, further revisions can be made with a fee and will increase lead-time.
Moving into Metal
Now that you’ve approved your design, your jewelry will be made into wax by 3D printing or through a molding process depending on how we made your initial mode. We will then cast your wax into metal using a method that is centuries old. We do an initial cleanup on the jewelry before setting your stones.
Setting Your Stones
At this phase, our setting specialist will place the gemstones you selected in the jewelry. The setting will be manipulated as necessary to hold the stones securely and finished for a more refined look. Throughout this process, the setting specialist will ensure that the stone is positioned evenly and securely.
Before your ring can make its way to you, we have to make sure it’s perfect. A final finish is applied, as well as any additions like engraving. The jewelry then travels through our quality control process where we check the specs, setting, size, and finish for a final assurance that it’s just right.
We photograph our custom work for our archive and to share some pieces with future customers for inspiration! Generally, this is when about a half dozen of us gather around your ring to “ooh and aah”. Then your jewelry is packaged up carefully before it’s shipped or picked up by you.
Receiving Your Jewelry
Wear your jewelry with pride knowing that it was made with the profound dedication of our team. Our use of the best available ethical materials is in the support of traditional craftsmanship, US-based manufacturing, and a commitment to supporting artisanal mines all over the world. We are proud to be a part of your story, and now you are a part of OUR story – creating a more ethical jewelry industry one handmade piece at a time.
Still want to learn more about our custom design? Visit a recent post on our custom work! If you’re ready to talk with Bario Neal about getting started with custom jewelry, submit our custom design questionnaire or call us at (215) 454 – 2164.