The Process of Custom Design: Part I. Design.

This the first entry in a four-part series on the process of custom designing a piece of jewelry.

Custom design is an important element of our business at Grimball Jewelers and a service we are pleased to offer our treasured clientele. Many people know right from the start that they want a custom piece of jewelry but sometimes it’s not until a customer has browsed our collection and spoken with a member of our sales staff that it becomes clear that they will need a piece created especially for him or her.  Once the need is recognized, it’s time for a consultation with our designer Tony.

During the consultation, Tony asks a variety of questions to determine the parameters for the piece.

  • Is the customer looking for something modern or traditional?
  • If gemstones are to be used in the piece, is there one stone that will be of primary importance or are there several stones to consider and arrange in a pleasing manner?
  • How will the stones be set?  If the customer leans toward a modern style, Tony typically recommends bezelor channel setting while a traditional style usually looks best with bead or prong setting.
  • Will the piece be symmetrical or asymmetrical?

As the consultation progresses, Tony does a bit of counter-sketching to demonstrate different ideas about the piece.  Once in a while, he will get lucky and produce theperfect design on the spot.  But usually he schedules a follow-up where he will present the customer with four or five design options.  When the customer reviews the designs usually one of the following occurs:

  • One of the designs is just what the customer wants.
  • The customer likes elements from two or more of the designs and a new design is required that combines those elements.
  • The designs help clarify what the customer wants or does not want but still need refining.

It’s nice when it works out easily but sometimes it takes a bit of extra work to get to perfection. Once a design is approved, the next step is Modeling and that is the subject for the second part of this series.

Below you will find a sample of Tony’s counter sketches and design proposals.  Enjoy!