Step One: Meet with Our Designer
Schedule your free design consultation today!
Every design begins with inspiration, and a discussion of your dreams, desires, and vision for your project. We also determine your budget and a preliminary timeframe. You can meet with our designer, Sophie Stradley, in our showroom or via an online chat.
This is a great time to begin gathering images of things that inspire you. Pinterest boards, sketches, photos of interesting patterns or textures, images from our collections, and even pressed flowers or leaves can be great starting points.
Whether you know exactly what you want or you need a little guidance to get going, our experienced artisans can help you take the first step in your design journey.
By controlling every step of the design and fabrication process, we ensure our signature craftsmanship and we also promise that your finished piece will be a unique reflection of your story.
There is no cost for your initial design consultation and brainstorming session. If further sessions are required, a small fee will be charged that will apply to the cost of your final design.
What to expect during your design consultation:
Whether you meet with us online or in our showroom, you can expect the same great, personalized experience. We’ll take the time to get to know you and determine the scope of your project, and get some of the important details–the who, what, when, and why!
First, who is this design for? Is it a gift to yourself to celebrate a big win? Something you’ve always dreamed about and finally decided to treat yourself? Or is this a meaningful surprise for someone else, and you can’t wait to see the look on their face when you show it to them for the first time?
What are we creating for you? You might want something sweet and sentimental, or maybe you want a design that will show everyone your unique style and taste! Whether it’s a ring, pendant, earrings, bracelet, or necklace, we’ve got you covered.
When do you need your piece to be completed? Most custom designs take 8-12 weeks to go from concept to finished item, but if there are lots of details or if you need an item that is difficult to source, it can take longer. We recommend starting early if you have a specific date in mind. Need something beautiful on a deadline? Personalize one of our existing designs!
Why have you decided to tell your story through a custom piece? Is it a special occasion? An engagement? Just because? Whatever your reason, we’re here to help you make your vision a reality.
During your consultation, you’ll get:
- One-on-one guidance and recommendations from a professional jewelry designer, not just a few minutes with a salesperson.
- Easy, responsive communication via the method of your choice– in person, on the phone, through text, email, or video chat.
- Education from an expert about metals, settings, and stones.
- Assistance selecting materials to suit your desires and your budget.
- A timely estimate of the cost of your project– delivered in writing. Note: Quoted rates are good for 30 days and may be subject to change based on market fluctuation of stones or metals.
- Frequent updates about the status of your project so you can follow along as we progress through each step.
- A great experience from start to finish– when you see your finished design we want you to love it!
Not ready to start a design from scratch? Personalize an existing design!
Bring your own gem or choose from our extensive selection
We are very lucky to have fourth-generation gemcutter Jim Stradley as our resident gemstone expert. He is able to create some of the most spectacular gem cuts we’ve ever seen.
With over 8,000 gems in stock, you’re sure to find the one you’re looking for. If your taste runs to the unique, we can source and custom cut a stone to fit your design.
We offer both natural and lab-created stones, and we are dedicated to finding the stone that makes your design really shine. Whether you prefer diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, or something more unconventional like moissanite or lace agate, our artisans won’t rest until we’ve found the perfect stone for you.
Step Two: Design & Micro-Engineering
Making Your Vision a Reality
Depending on your project, we may use a variety of methods to create your initial design, including sketches, digital image compositing, and CAD modeling. We want to give you the opportunity to see your design before it is cast into jewelry so you can make any necessary changes or modifications.
Once we’ve gathered your ideas and talked about your needs, we’ll get started on some preliminary designs. We call this the “ugly sketches” phase. In this step, we create some very rough doodles and scribbles, just to make sure we’re on the right page with your vision. We’ll sketch some rough outlines and angles and get some verbal feedback from you. We’ll make a list of important features that need to be included, and jot down any necessary measurements and sizes. We’ll review your inspiration images to see which can be incorporated. Once we determine the basic elements, we’ll begin a more formal concept. This process usually takes about a week. There is no cost for this early brainstorming session, it is included in your free consultation.
Digital Composite Images
When you have settled on a concept, our designer will get to work! Using the latest imaging software, we will craft a composite image that incorporates elements from your inspiration photos to create a vision board for your project.
These composite images offer a 2-dimensional space to gather all of the important visual elements in one place, and to address issues of balance and visual cohesion. In this step we begin to flesh out the details that will become your eventual design. This is the perfect time to make modifications if you decide you’d like to change something.
CAD Modeling & Rendering
In the next step, we use state-of-the-art software to create a stunning 3D visual model that allows you to view your piece from every angle. This gives you the opportunity to view a true-to-life rendering of your vision, without the cost of having to make a new piece in metal each time you want to change something.
Our designer will work with you to be sure that your piece is both beautiful and true to your vision, as well as durable and heirloom-quality. Our entire team will collaborate on your design to ensure that it is technically and artistically perfect. It is our goal to create a piece that will be enjoyed for generations.
Wax Carving & Model Making
Most designs go through a complex casting process. We use a 3D printer to create a wax or resin master model. This model can then be modified with additional carving and sculpting as we fine-tune your design. We have our own 3-D printers and growers, as well as wax carvers onsite, to execute your vision to detailed perfection.
Realistic renderings and physical models help to turn your ideas into real pieces that you can wear, and the process is fun and engaging! When you’re finished, you’ll have a totally unique piece that looks just right and fits you perfectly.
Wax Model Viewing
Once we’ve completed all the digital adjustments and you’re happy with the design, we’ll print a master model for you to view and try on. If any further adjustments are needed, we will work with you until we get it exactly right.
You can view your wax model in person or through video chat. We are happy to ship wax models, but do keep in mind that they can be very delicate, and may sustain damage during transit.
Please keep in mind that designs and waxes sometimes have features such as longer prongs or extra metal that will be removed during the stone setting process. If these features are present in your design, we will point them out.
Step Three: Casting and Creation
Bringing Your Design to Life
When you have approved your wax model, we will proceed to casting. Our experienced goldsmiths will blend old-world methods with the latest technology to transform your model into a beautiful work of art.
Attention to detail is of the utmost importance during the casting process. Poor casting quality can lead to improper metal crystallization and cracks or warps and shrinkage in the final piece. Our goldsmith’s attention to detail ensures that your final piece will be the highest quality, fine enough to pass down for generations.
The process seems simple, but requires years of practice to master. First, your wax model is sprued–small tubes of wax are attached strategically so that molten metal can be injected into the mold. Usually several models are sprued together–this allows the metal to flow more evenly and prevents bubbles from forming in the molds.
The sprued models (called a sprue tree) are placed into a special investment cylinder, and liquid plaster is poured over them. A specially designed vacuum chamber removes any air bubbles from the plaster.
Once the plaster in the cylinder hardens, it’s time to inject the mold with metal. Depending on the type of metal used, either a torch or a specialized furnace will be used to bring the metal to a temperature hot enough to liquify it. Once it is able to flow, it is poured into a special funnel shaped opening in the plaster mold.
As the liquid metal enters the plaster mold, the wax and resin models are burned away cleanly, leaving behind space for the metal to fill. When the plaster is broken away, you are left with metal versions of the original wax models.
Detailing and Polishing
Cooled castings have a smooth but matte surface and need plenty of polishing before they look like traditional jewelry. This process takes time and attention to detail, and shouldn’t be rushed, as it’s an important step before stone setting. Our craftsmen polish every surface and tumble finish each casting to reach even the smallest nooks and crannies before hand detailing every piece.
Step Four: Hand Forging & Fabrication
The Final Touches
Many designs require some elements to be hand forged. Forging provides strength to the metal and allows us to create finer detail than can be made with casting alone. Because of the forge-hardening, even the finest elements are made durable enough to last a lifetime.
Some of the best and most unique designs in our collection are fabricated using old-world methods from sheet, bar stock and wire.
This traditional jewelry making technique is useful for achieving a specific style and is the best method for some designs. It is very time-consuming and tends to be more expensive than wax carving and casting, but the quality shows!
Other designs use a combination of casting and hand fabricated filigree or other hand forged elements. If your design is a good candidate for this hybrid method, we can show you examples of similar elements for you to choose from or forge and fabricate partial sections of the design for your approval before finishing all the details.
Each and every gemstone is selected by our Master Gemcutter and set by hand, paying special attention to the unique qualities and characteristics of the stone. You are invited to choose your gems from our large selection, or bring your own for us to set.
Our stones are never cast-in-place, an inferior method used in mass-manufacturing that often leads to breakage and loss. We hand set our stones with quality, care and old world craftsmanship, showing respect to each gem. Each setting is carefully considered and laid out before being meticulously fitted and set to secure the stone for a lifetime.
Step Five: Texture, Finishes and Detailing
Time for Your Design to Shine
In the final stage, we add any special textures and finishes to your metal, including plating, antiquing, or aging your design.
There are many types of surface finishes used on jewelry, ranging from a high polish to a coarse hammered background. We use bead blasting equipment, emery cloths, files, hammers and numerous specialty tools to apply a wide variety of finishes and surface treatments.
Antiquing, or blackening of the background area, and enameling can be used to create specialized effects. Before quality marking, we double and triple check all details of the design to ensure all instructions have been meticulously followed, the design is well executed and your piece is perfect as it can be!
All of our designs are then quality marked (signed) giving our assurance of the fineness of the metal. Karat or fineness is the ratio of precious metal and other alloys used.
Due to unprecedented custom order volume, most projects currently take about 8-12 weeks from design approval. Design time varies, but give yourself enough time to enjoy the process, we are confident you’ll enjoy it! Time frame may vary dramatically by season, the closer to the summer wedding season, the longer the times may be for all types of work. Please contact us for details on current delivery times.