I didn’t know it at the time but Custom Confidential was born on a hot summer day, long ago…
Maybe I was a little drunk. I had been fabricating silver jewelry for a few years and decided to try my hand at fabrication in 14K gold. Saving up, I finally had enough money to buy 6 inches of gold wire. Using my best garnet, and putting extra effort into making it perfect, I made one of my more standard designs. This design seemed to always sell fast when I made it in silver and I wasn’t willing to risk coming up with a new design with such precious materials. When I put it on display at the Eugene Saturday Market my entire sales effort of that time, I priced it exactly like I would have had it been silver, adding just enough more to cover that more expensive metal. I think the price came to something like $60 while the same ring in Sterling would have been maybe $25.
Take The Money…Eventually
Customer after customer admired the ring, complimenting my abilities, the design, the gem. They loved it. And when I told them the price they handed it back and walked away. The supply of beer I was working on during that day dwindled. I got more and more frustrated at the response I was receiving from that shiny new gold ring. If they loved it, why didn’t they buy it? The price was certainly fair. Finally, near the end of the day and the end of the 6-pack, as the same scene repeated itself right up to the asking of the price, I unceremoniously blurted out “$300.” I was sure they weren’t going to buy it anyway so why not, right? I was stunned nearly sober when the guy pulled out 3 crisp $100 dollar bills and handed them to me, thanked me profusely for such a nice ring. He walked away with it while showing it to his friends.
I was on to something!
And now…Custom Confidential. With somewhat insincere apologies to Anthony Bourdain, (who wrote the best-selling “Kitchen Confidential”) I embark upon the project of written elaboration. I will write about the indescribably delicious moments, the insights, the elations and disappointments…the stories of over 40 years of Custom Jewelry Design.
Ask any jeweler what their “least” favorite thing to do is and I bet most will say, “jewelry repair and restoration.” I sort of agree…
Thankfully, I rarely need to repair or restore my own stuff. I believe strongly in both design and structural integrity for the things I make. But my clients often have pieces from other sources, some that are very meaningful for them. And honestly, even some things I didn’t make are worthy of another chance when they fail or just wear out.
Jewelry Repair as a Learning Tool
There’s a reason I sort of agree with it being mostly a nasty task. There are benefits to me as a designer from doing jewelry repair… it keeps my hands in the trenches. I’ve probably learned at least as much about how jewelry should be designed from repairing things than just making them. It allows me to see what works. And, more importantly, what doesn’t work when jewelry is worn often. Items worn on the body take a beating. Rings and bracelets especially take a beating. I don’t like to disparage other’s work, but an experienced eye can tell if a designer has actually been in the trenches of repair for any length of time.
I’ll write again about some specific repair and restoration considerations but for now, I’ll leave you with this very short video about a recent project for a great client. This ring shown above was in pretty good shape except for the detail on the sides, which had been severely worn from having worn the ring next to other rings, a common problem. I used a combination of cutting edge technology, CAD and 3D Printing and traditional fabrication techniques to bring the ring back to near perfection!
And the outcome was great!!! Contact us at Gary Dawson Designs to discuss your project today!
“Fresh Jewelry!,” he yells to the street like a vegetable hawker in a residential Bangkok suburb as he turns the new ring with a cushion cut purple sapphire and diamond accents. Custom Jewelry a specialty, we welcome new clients!
This Trellis style ring was designed in Rhinoceros3D, printed and cast in 14K yellow gold. Get with us to start your Custom Jewelry Design project today!