I recently completed a custom made white and yellow gold diamond and pearl–encrusted Mermaid, for a lovely mermaid lady who spends her time either swimming in her pool, soaking in her hot tub or fishing in the Gulf and its backwaters—did she have gills? The finished piece spoke volumes about her personality, and she was an absolute joy to work with. I was told to take my time, and that money was no object, she loved the original design and final rendering. When completed, she cried tears of joy when I presented the finished piece. What was not to love about this woman in the waves?
It’s not always a pleasant experience for me here in Paradise unless the potential customer and I are on the same wave–length, as with my mermaid client (no pun intended), when it comes to special designed commissioned pieces explaining what I do is not always easy; especially when the person before me is clueless about what exactly they want and if we can both work together to achieve that goal.
Years ago, many customers would be hesitant or develop cold feet because they wanted to see the finished product before they commit. No jeweler in their right mind is going to speculate a piece hoping the customer likes it. The nearest thing is now possible with modern technology and the design can be rendered in full–color 3-D and sent to the customers by iPhone or PC for approval. Unfortunately, this service is not free and is added to the cost of the finished piece.
In the world of “made to order jewelry,” a designer/goldsmith’s time is money and then there’s the added expense of precious metals diamonds and exotic gemstones. In most cases of custom-made jewelry, there are no refunds, exchanges or credits when the piece is completed which is why absolute clarity between the goldsmith and client on what the piece is going to look like completed is vital. This communication can get broken down or blur in many retail jewelry stores when the work is not done onsite or too many parties are involved. Overall, when the customer commits, leaves a deposit and approves the design, the process is magical with how it transforms from a simple pencil sketch or 3-D rendering. For example, my mermaid holding a diamond mirror embellished with a cultured pearl to a precious wearable piece of fine jewelry.
I have enjoyed doing custom designs from the tender age of ten. I made jewelry for classmates in grammar school; for Pete’s sake, it’s in my blood and gold dust is usually under my fingernails.
The things people will come up with as a piece of wearable jewelry will boggle the mind, most things are possible, many are not. I was once asked if I had rubberized gold so she could wear the ring on any finger she wanted or melt a quantity of small insignificant and make one large diamond. I haven’t quite figured how to do either of these requests. I’ll keep them in mind, after I turn this bar of lead into gold!
Enjoy your time here, please be safe while driving and be constantly aware of pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles!
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith Marco’s go–to jeweler since 1994 and welcomes your questions about all that glitters at harborgoldsmith.com.