Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Custom Ring??

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Question
I have a ring that I bought as costume jewelry because I love the design.  I would love to take the ring and have it made in white gold.  Is this possible?  Who would I go to, and how do I go about finding them?

Answer
Dear Rebecca,

There are a few options as to “how” this ring might be made.  The first thing is to find a good jeweler doing custom or special-order jewelry work.  If possible, you want to see some of their work as a judge of workmanship you may expect.  While some stores do this work and do not promote it, others specialize in custom work. This will basically meaning looking up websites, yellow page ads, etc., and making a few phone calls to screen out jewelers and select those who sound like they want to work with you on this project.

First, the design you like may be available in a ready made setting from a manufacturer of fine jewelry. If so,   the jeweler can get the ring that way and add stones, etc., as might be needed.  This is generally the least costly method but hinges on a design like or quite similar to what you want being available.

The next method is for the ring to be made for you. While fabrication directly in the metal may be used for particular styles, most designs are going to be made using the casting process. A model of the ring is made in a wax material and that is used to form a plaster mold in which the new ring is cast in gold. All is then finished for delivery.  The jeweler will make the decision as to which method is best for making your ring.  If casting is the method, then the model for the ring is handmade in-house or farmed out to a specialist.  Just a few years ago most all special order castings started with a handmade wax model made by a skilled jeweler in the local business.  Today, much is handmade but much is also sent out to a specialist in digital jewelry design. The digital work is cost competitive with handmade models and has the advantage of you being able to see a realistic digital drawing of the jewelry prior to the model being made. Digital controls are used to mill or otherwise form the model, a jewelry adapted form of cad/cam. Should for some reason unexpected a casting goes awry, another model may be made easily. With handmade models, the model is one of a kind and must be remade if the casting goes wrong.

A jeweler who does not do casting in-house may have an outside service do that work.  One of the best known suppliers to retail jewelers is Stuller Findings, located in Lafayette, Louisiana.  This company provides excellent casting services for a jeweler who sends them the wax model.

The primary concern is quality of workmanship.  You will need to check around to find the jeweler to do the job. Ask questions about how it will be done and what you may expect.  If casting is done, ask if you can see the wax model or a digital rendering of the item prior to further work.

Rebecca, I do hope this answer will help.  Get back with me if need be.

God Bless and Peace.   Thomas.  

Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals

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Thomas

Expertise

Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.

Experience

I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education/Credentials
Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to jewelry...wow, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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