Custom Design vs Manufactured Jewelry
Throughout the course of a day, I am frequently educating our clients in the art of custom design and hand fabrication, essentially the art of goldsmithing. This is a learning process that often takes several years of being an apprentice and then becoming a master. Many of the gemstones we use in our creations are not cut to standard, calibrated sizes and we cannot rely on manufactured settings. The gems in our designs might be referred to as “free-cut” or “fantasy-cut” and are often cut by gem artists. As such, our designs cannot be mass-manufactured, like many of the popular commercial lines. Instead, they are built in our own workshops by skilled craftsmen and women who often have degrees and training in multiple disciplines revolving around custom design.
Often, custom designs in many retail stores are are using a computer generated model and utilizing pre-made templates. Basically, they are a cut and paste format. The finished model is then sent to a manufacturing house to be cast in wax for the customer’s approval before being cast into a precious metal, such as gold or silver. The parts that make up a ring,necklace, or pendant that are using the pre-designed templates frequently do not accept higher quality or free-cut gems. More importantly, these higher grade or free-cut gems are sometimes forced into settings which cannot properly accommodate non-calibrated gems, therefore, sacrificing the integrity of the setting and risking damage or loss of the gem.
An experienced custom designer will design and build a setting around an individual stone with unique proportions and which may not fit in standardized settings. Because of this, the gem is more secure and protected from wear. Additionally, an experienced designer can also improve the appearance of a gemstone through proper design of the setting by manipulating the light and reflection. Knowledge of color, light leakage, reflected and transmitted light, are vital to a quality design. The art of custom design and hand-fabrication companioned with an education in gemstones generally takes years of training and practice and a generic computer template could never emulate or produce the same creation.