Smith & Tailor

A Custom piece vs. a piece from the Collection

Kathryn Dieroff

There are several ways to purchase a piece of jewellery when you come to me. You can create a custom design, or you can purchase from my existing collection. Defining what is a custom ring seems obvious, but there are some exceptions. If you come to me with an idea you have, that you don’t see in my current collection, then that is a custom job. I will work with you to select the right stones for your budget, and create a piece for you that has significance to you and fits your lifestyle. To purchase from within a collection means that you have seen a piece that is part of my regular stock, and you like it as is without many or any changes. If this is the case for you, you are very fortunate. Purchasing from a collection means that you save some money in design and development cost, and you get a chance to see the piece before you commit to your purchase.

So what is the difference in cost between a custom ring and a ring in my collection? There is no specific charge for a design; I do not bill per design or by the hour, so there is no need to feel pressure as we are creating a custom piece that as you make changes to your design, the cost is climbing up. The most important thing to me when creating a custom work is that we are making the right piece for you and that means not compromising on design, and respecting your budget. That being said, there are additional costs associated with creating a custom piece that don’t exist in a ring that is already in my collection. It’s possible that we will be sourcing a specific gem. I will offer some options to choose from, so you can look at the stones and pick the one that speaks to you. There will likely be some ‘napkin sketches’ done of design concepts, and occasionally I will present you will a design page that shows a variety of design options drawn by hand. There is no limit to the number of sketches that I will do for a client. We work on it until the design is right. I often say to clients, ‘Paper and pencil is cheap, metal is expensive.’ It is simple to go back to the drawing board in the design phase, but once a ring has been cast in metal, it is much more difficult to modify, so if we need to redesign, there is likely going to be a charge associated with that. Sometimes I will be hand carving your ring from wax, or creating a CAD design that will be printed on a 3D printer. Custom jobs can be done with me in person or long distance [it’s possible to scan sketches, send emails, and even Skype meetings] but it tends to take a little longer if we are creating a piece without meeting in person. In terms of time, a piece from my collection can take anywhere from two to four weeks to complete, and a custom pieces can take anywhere from four to eight weeks, or up to three months, depending on the number of design changes, stone viewings, or ordering special materials.

Purchasing from my collection doesn’t always mean that you buy the piece in front of you. Although if you see something you love, and you try it on and it’s a perfect fit, you can go home with your new shiny ring that very day! There are ways to make some changes to a collection piece that make it distinctly your own. You can select a metal colour and karat that is right for you; most rings can be made in silver, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, green gold, 10k, 14k, 18k, palladium, or platinum. You can also change the stone colour or variety to suit your style and budget. It may be possible to add stones, or change the texture of a ring in the collection. In some cases the width or thickness can be changed without additional cost. Adding a setting, changing the stone shapes, moving elements around all constitute design changes and therefore become a custom piece.

Occasionally, while working on a piece, I will feel very strongly connected to a design and will ask if I can add the piece we are making for you can be added to my collection. This will mean that I will be moulding the ring so it can be remade again. Each client will likely put there own spin on the design by choosing colour of metal and stones, so there will never be hundreds or even dozens of your ring out there. If a custom ring is added to my collection, any charges for modeling will be waived and you will save some money on your finished design.

If you have a custom piece, it does not mean that it is exclusive. Although it is unlikely that two people will decide upon the exact same elements, there may be similarties between your ring and someone elses. All my rings are made by me, so anything I make is likey to have a similar look because there are certain elements that are part of my design wheelhouse. If your custom piece is photographed and featured on my website/social media, people will be inspired by you, just as you were inspired by what you see around you. Remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you want a completely exclusive design, this can be arranged, but there are some additional costs that will be added to the piece that would vary from project to project. It should be noted, however, that over the centuries, there is very little that has ‘never been done’ so it’s best not to get too hung up on whether the ring is unlike anything anyone has ever had.

If you are trying to decide whether to go custom or not, and worry that you will have the same ring as someone else, know that there will likely never be thousands of your ring out there. I am making each ring by hand in my studio. If you have the same ring, or similar ring to someone else, you are in a small company of people who live all over the country. If you ever do happen to run into your ‘ring twin’ please tell me about it! Once my pieces leave me they become yours and live a life of their own. It is a great joy to me to hear about where the pieces go.