How is Custom Jewelry Made? Answers from a Jewelry Maker

Ask any jewelry maker and they’ll likely tell you custom jewelry orders are some of their favourite to make. They certainly are for me. 

Not only do I get to make someone's dream jewelry come true, but designs from other people’s minds help flex my creativity in new ways. Sometimes they even inspire entirely new product lines down the road! (Although custom orders are always one-of-a-kind). 

But I think there are a lot of misconceptions about custom jewelry that stop people from pursuing it. Some questions I get a lot are: 

  • How is custom jewelry made?
  • How is it different from your regular designs?
  • Is it more expensive?

So I wanted to write a quick post offering a peek into how I make my custom jewelry orders, as well as answer the most common questions I get on the topic.

How I make custom jewelry orders

My approach depends on the needs of the customer, but I generally create custom jewelry orders in four stages.

1. You tell me your idea

The process starts with sharing your idea and budget with me. If you’re in the area, I’m happy to do this in person, but more often this happens via phone or email.

If you have a full design already fleshed out, great! I can run with that. But if you only have an idea, no problem; I’m happy to work with you to make your design more complete. You can also view my current designs for inspiration. 

In these cases, in addition to your description, I’ll usually ask for pictures or mood boards to help me really nail down the look and vibe of the design you want. I also like to be very honest upfront; if I don’t feel like I can make the exact design you’re after, I’ll let you know and refer you to someone who can. 

But for the designs I’m confident I can make (which is most of them), I’ll show you sketches or digital renderings until you’re happy with what you see. I’ll also let you know how long the process will take. 

Once you give me the thumbs up, we’ll move on to materials. Again, you might already know the exact materials you want to use; if I can accommodate, these are the materials we’ll use. If you’re less sure, I’m here to help with selecting which metals, gemstones, or other embellishments to use. 

Ultimately, all decisions in the planning stage are made through the following filters:

  1. Will this lead to a design you love?
  2. Will this fit your budget?
  3. Will this get you your design by when you need it?

2. I get to work crafting

After the planning stage, your work is done! With our agreed-on design in hand, I get to work bringing it to life. 

Different designs require different approaches, but generally, this stage involves some combination of wire wrapping, threading, beading, and other tricks of the trade I’ve picked up in my near-decade of jewelry making. For designs with gemstones, I might also use prong, bezel, or pave setting to set the stones securely in place. 

A clay bowl laying on sand with different pieces of jewelry inside it, next to a pile of blue pliers.

And if you’re picturing some secret lab behind a bookcase filled with forges, anvils, and presses, I’m sorry to disappoint: I do most of my work using just cutters, pliers, and my bare hands. 

3. I finish and polish your design

The finishing stage is all about making your piece as polished, unique, and durable as possible.  

How I do this also varies from piece to piece, but generally includes filing any rough edges, smoothing surfaces, and polishing the metal to achieve the desired shine and texture.

A hand holding a small piece of metal with a transparent gemstone hanging off it.

I’ll also add any engravings, personal inscriptions, and other unique additions to the piece during this stage. 

4. I deliver your design for final approval

Now the most exciting part: the reveal! 

Whether in person, by video call, or however else works for you, I’ll show you your design for your final approval. 

If you love it (and I hope you do), that’s that! I‘ll package it up nice and cute and send it on its way to your doorstep (you’re also welcome to pick it up in person). 

But if there’s something you’d like changed (as long as it’s within reason), I’m more than happy to work with you until you’re satisfied. 

Hopefully, that clears things up! If you have an occasion coming up or just can’t find the design you’re looking for, reach out to get your custom jewelry order started today.  

Custom jewelry FAQs

Is custom jewelry more expensive?

Not usually! I try to keep my pricing for custom jewelry comparable to the prices of my other pieces, which you can view here.

How long does custom jewelry take to make?

This depends on the piece, but most of my custom jewelry takes less than a month to make.

What kinds of custom jewelry do you make?

I make custom necklaces, bracelets, earrings, anklets, rings, and most other types of jewelry. Please just send me a message and hopefully, we can make your idea come to life. 

Is your custom jewelry eco-friendly?

All of my jewelry is handmade by me in Revelstoke, British Columbia using genuine, undyed, hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant, sustainably sourced gemstones and metals. I aim to make the highest-quality, least wasteful, most sustainable jewelry possible. 

What sizes are available with custom jewelry?

I make all my jewelry by hand, which means I can make any size you need. 

What materials are available with custom jewelry?

I’m able to source most metals, gemstones, and other materials. In the small chance I can’t get a hold of a certain material, I’ll let you know up front in our kickoff meeting.

Do you make bridal/bridesmaid jewelry?

I certainly do make custom bridal/bridesmaid jewelry! Just shoot me a message and I’ll let you know how I can help.