Have you ever wondered what you could do with an heirloom piece that is no longer worn but you know it could be striking with an update? Why sell it for cash, or worse yet, let it sit around unloved and unused?
Maybe you’ve been inspired to create something altogether new to mark an occasion that’s worth a deeply meaningful and extraordinary piece of jewelry?
Or perhaps you have a shop or gallery interested in making an exclusive collection or statement piece specific to your brand and you’re seeking and experienced jeweler who is ready to fully engage in that process with a team of craftsmen at the ready?
Collaboration is at the heart of my work, and what makes custom jewelry particularly unique and fulfilling. Fortunately, the process of working in tandem with others comes naturally to me as is the desire to create something truly fitting for our clients. With a willingness to experiment, attention to detail, and an eye for beauty, I take pleasure in pushing the boundaries of what is possible and delighting in the outcome of something exceptional and personal.
When a client approaches me about custom work I always start by describing my creative process which can be non-linear and more of an adventure in discovery where I get to take them along to join in the process. Each request for a custom piece is an individual labor of love. The progression can be quite magical as we begin with something as ephemeral as an idea and bring it into the tangible.
18k gold, one-of-a-kind Scapular Tablet Necklace
The most expensive and involved kind of custom work is ‘bespoke’ because it involves creating something entirely new from the ground up.
The initial steps when making our own collections are, more often than not, done so to expose how to improve and refine each design. Rarely do these first pieces make it into our showroom’s jewelry cases, for instance. These are the prototypes we wear, test, sometimes watch fall apart and re-work in order to get it right (hopefully) the second time around. With bespoke custom, we have do not have this luxury. We have to get it right the first time.
Initials concept sketches for scapular necklace, (left) with additional input from client, (right)
There is something very special about knowing that the piece of jewelry you are wearing was made only for you and tells your unique story. A custom project usually starts with a seed of an idea or concept that is brought to me by a client. Together, we then build upon that idea through discussion and sketches. Bespoke custom is unquestionably a meeting of the minds between the client and myself. It is, by design, an extremely intimate interaction that in the end results in a one-of-a-kind design completely personal to the client. This can entail the creation of original artwork as well as the careful consideration and incorporation of symbolism that holds meaning for the client. The time and effort that goes into creating these special pieces is the key to their successful execution. Because of the fact most will never be reproduced, they are akin to works of art.
Artwork incorporating personal symbols (fleur de lis, heart, compass) and family birthstones
Other types of custom work involve creating a piece similar in style to a piece from one of our collections.
These kinds of commissions provide the opportunity to revisit our past designs and collections with fresh eyes. In some instances, it will be the style of the collection we adopt but with artwork created especially for the client as in the example below. In this particular case, the client wanted us to design a custom pendant in the style of our Arabesque collection which is highly graphic yet ornate.
Designs from our Arabesque collection (Cigar band, left and Medallion pendant, right)
During the conceptualization phase, we will often provide hand-drawn sketches that explore different options. In this case we were looking at different ways to represent two intertwined dolphins – a symbol that held particular meaning for a couple who were celebrating an important anniversary.
Concept sketches for a custom laser-cut pendant incorporating two dolphins
Once a decision has been reached on the concept, the hands-on work begins as we produce the assets – scaled drawings and 3D models - that will be used to create the final piece. We rely on an army of craftsmen – fabricators, casters, stone cutters, and setters - each of whom plays a critical role in helping breathe life into our design concepts.
Some of our custom clients are retailers seeking designs for a private label collection.
These requests are either for a limited edition they alone will offer, or in some instances, for a collection specifically based upon particular parameters or vision they have. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art asked us to do just that in order to commemorate the opening of its new wing designed by the architects of Snøhetta. We were tasked with designing a jewelry collection that echoed the spirit and character of the building’s architecture.
Concept sketches (left) inspired by the façade of Snøhetta’s design for the new wing of SF MOMA (right)
I chose to use the building’s undulating façade as a jumping-off point and developed a series of designs that echoed this movement not only visually but formally. In addition, I added another layer of “movement” with a staggered finish that skipped back and forth from polished to matte.
Detailed drawings for a pair of earrings from our private label jewelry collection for SF MOMA
It doesn’t get much better than this for an architect who designs jewelry. In fact, the three other designers who were invited to design private collections were also architects. It was fascinating to see how each of us approached the brief differently, melding our own personal styles with that of the building’s architecture.
Custom projects offer the chance to experiment and try new things, stretch beyond the usual comfort zones, and create something altogether new yet definitively your own. They can rescue your grandmother’s earrings for several more generations, update gifts that once held meaning but sit idly, or be that distinguished collection that only your boutique can offer. Contact us directly to get started at firstname.lastname@example.org.