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Friday, September 4, 2009

Custom Work III

This will be my final posting on custom work for the moment and it has to do more with the job/role the customer has to play in this situation. At Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers I really try very hard to please my customers and work with them regardless of the limitations (within reason). If my starting custom price is too high, I will try to work with the customer in using an existing design, perhaps with other stones in it or a minor modification. If time frame is an issue, I will do my best to work with you on that as well, but there are certain things that are beyond my control.

Having been in business for so long, I have seen many changes in the way business is conducted. In particular, over the last 10 years, since the widespread use of the Internet began, there has developed a mindset about how quickly things can be done. Say you want a book that just came out. Well, you can go to Amazon, or one of the other online booksellers, find it, click a couple of buttons, and voila!! two days later the book is in your hands. Unfortunately this kind of "click and it's done" mentality has spread widely and seems to now encompass all fields of work.

I like to play computer games and a year or so ago I needed a new computer. I went online and found a place that specialized in putting together custom gaming computers. I was able to order exactly what I wanted, and they built the computer up to my specifications and it took about three weeks to get it. Interestingly, while reading their reviews on line, the thing that other customers complained about the most was how long it took to get the computer. Now, none of this company's product was off the shelf set ups. But very few of the purchasers could grasp the concept that when an individual had to actually hand build the unit they wanted, it would take some time to actually produce it. Given that we were dealing with gaming computers, I was pretty sure that the majority of purchasers were fairly young and that they had been raised in the computer age.

So how does this relate to jewelry? Well for one thing, while there have been some advances in the use of cad/cam computer designing, and there have certainly been huge advances in the understanding of metallurgy allowing for the development of far more alloys than ever seen before (because of computers), making jewelry can still be a pretty labor intensive field. It is especially so when you are working with someone like me. I would much rather hand build a piece than cast it. There is simply more of "me" in the final product and I can guarantee that I am using recycled metals. But when I do have to cast a piece (and some pieces simply need to be built that way) there is time needed for building a model, having my casters make a mold and cast the model, and then for me to do whatever finish work/stone setting, etc. that is necessary. When working on cad/cam pieces, I need to develop a design, attempt to translate it to my cad/cam person who then needs time to do their work, get a wax cast up, and then have my casters cast the piece and still do the finish work. All of these elements add time to the process. And all of them assume that the first model/wax/piece is what you, the customer, actually wants. If the first model isn't right then I need time to make the second or third. If not enough time is left for making a design, then there often isn't time at the end of the process to make alterations, or correct misunderstandings, in time for the final product to be used.

While I can produce many of my existing designs in relatively short periods of time, true custom work (i.e.: I want you to make this exact pattern of oak leaves all around my ring) takes time and the more a jeweler has, the better chance that, you, the customer will get exactly what you want. Four to eight weeks is usually a reasonable time period for true custom work. Yes it can be done quicker, but the results won't always be the same. It is important that you try to plan ahead on this type of job. And remember that the reason you're coming to someone like me is because you don't want something that looks like it was made by a machine!
The pendant pictured above was a custom piece made using a customer's marquis shaped diamond in 18k yellow gold.


  1. Great advice!! Nice job with the links. Keep up the good work.