If you are interested in having a custom piece of jewelry made below is information as well as images of custom projects describing different fabrication methods used in our design process.
Many of our rings start out in wax before they get cast into metal. The process is called ‘lost wax casting.’ The wax we work with is not quite like candle wax but has more plastic, making it easier to carve. Certain changes are easier to make when the design is in wax before we cast it in metal. When the design is complete, we take the wax model to a local craftsman in Philadelphia who will make a mold of our model. A one time use plaster mold is made from that wax. The wax is melted out of the mold and metal is poured into the mold through a process called centrifugal casting. The piece is then cleaned and finished in our shop. If pieces need additional work in wax we will make a rubber mold of the model as well. A similar process is used for our non custom pieces which are reproduced from the rubber molds that we keep at our studio.
Depending on the design of the piece, we may choose to design your ring through computer aided design (CAD) software. CAD designs are usually best for pieces that cannot be carved by hand, pieces that have strict dimensions or very symmetric designs. When the design is complete, the file is sent to a 3D printer and is printed directly in wax. The CAD designed wax model then goes through the lost wax casting process as described above.
Not all designs need to be carved in wax and cast. When a design is made and formed directly from metal it is called fabrication. If we fabricate a design, we will take careful measurements from our sketches and then cut, form and solder the design from either sheet metal or wire. One example of a fabricated design is our aldine band. Each ring is braided by hand and then formed and soldered. All of our hammered bands are also hammered by hand, which is why there are differences in hammer strokes on each ring.
If you’re interested in a custom design project, we are happy to work with you. Below is an introduction to how the process works.
For custom design pieces, the more information we have the better. The more time you spend narrowing down your ideas and thinking about your design the smoother the process will go. Please note that we have a $500 minimum per piece for custom design and currently have a waiting list for custom work. Before we can provide an estimate or a preliminary sketch, we will need to know at least some basic information about the project: general design idea, metal(s), stones, size(s) and dimensions if needed. Sketches and pictures of your idea is a great place to start. It’s okay if you cannot draw but providing images or links to similar pieces is very helpful. For example, if you want a ring with a floral pattern, please provide photographs or pictures of a similar pattern. Or, if you have seen two rings that you like and you would like qualities of each, having pictures of both would be helpful. Please keep in mind we cannot replicate another jeweler’s design.
We also recommend spending time on our custom design page , blog and reading our custom design questionnaire . The custom design questionnaire will walk you through the questions we will ask when beginning the process. You don’t necessarily need to submit the form, but it’s helpful to know ahead of time the decisions you will have to make.
We will do our best to come as close to your design idea as possible, but we must take into consideration the practicality of the design, the security of stone settings and the durability of the piece. We will not work with designs that do not meet our standards for structural integrity or security of stones. If you are interested in having a custom design made below are the four steps of our custom process:
1.The first step of the process is a complimentary consultation based on photos and ideas. Before we can provide an estimate or a preliminary sketch, we’ll need to know the basic information about the project: general design idea, metal(s), stones, size(s) and dimensions if needed.
2.Before we get started on the piece, we ask for a 50% deposit or payment in full. Once we receive the deposit, we can provide more detailed sketches and make changes as necessary and will be in contact via email, phone, or in store consultations.
3. Based on the final sketch, we will provide additional 3-Dimensional models if necessary. Certain custom designs do not require wax or metal models. When we begin the project, we will evaluate your design and will use the most practical fabrication process.
4. After we get the final approval from you, we will complete the design in your chosen materials. Once the custom design is ready, we will contact you for the final payment. We can ship the jewelry to you or you are more than welcome to visit our Philadelphia showroom to pick-up it up.
We do not accept returns on custom work. We do our best to communicate with you throughout the process so you know what you are getting. If you change the idea or major elements of the design, the price and time estimate will change accordingly.
Custom designs usually take about 4-8 weeks from finalizing the design to completing the piece. Once again, this depends on the complexity or simplicity of the design. If we are having difficulties trying a new fabrication method or sourcing a stone, the deadline may be extended. Regardless of the amount of time, we will be sure to keep you updated on the status of the project.