Client Saves the Day for Her Gold Coin Leather Bracelet

Leather bracelet with gold horses

Cheryl’s Gold Coin and Horses Leather Bracelet

A Father’s Love and a Love of Horses

My client Cheryl had a special coin from her deceased dad that she wanted to wear. She also happens to loves horses.

I encouraged her to add her love of horses to whatever piece of jewelry we ended up making to make it that much more wearable.

This is as much a story of a jewelry designer and a challenging situation as it is about the making of this very cool leather bracelet. And the fact that sometimes you have to learn something more than once.

Cheryl's Leather Watchband Cuff with Silver Details

Cheryl’s Leather Watchband Cuff with Silver Details

Starting With an Example of a Loved Piece of Jewelry

Sometimes you have a piece of jewelry that fits you really well and is comfortable. That alone can be a great starting point when designing a new piece of jewelry.

Cheryl had a leather watch cuff that she loved. We started out the with the idea that I’d collaborate with a leather maker to make a cuff bracelet similar to her watch band . We’d set her coin in a bezel frame and make two gold horse heads to go onto it. Great idea!

Square shank comfort ring

Debra’s Comforably fitting Tanzanite Ring. We used This as Our Example for Width and Shape of Shank

Use That Good Jewelry Example to Take Your First Steps on Your New Jewelry Design

Momentarily digressing to illustrate a great idea (That I didn’t follow).

My client Debra had a tanzanite ring with a wide band and a square shank that was the most comfortable ring she’d ever had.

When we embarked on the redesign of her wedding ring we had decided to incorporate that comfortable fitting style into her new wedding ring.

Square shank ruby and diamond ring. Helps prevent ring from turning.

Debra’s Newly Redesigned Wedding Ring with Rubies and Diamonds. Super Comfortable

My wax carver, with Debra’s tanzanite ring in hand, was able to replicate that same style of fit into Debra’s new ring.

When her ring was done it had that same comfort and pleasing fit for everyday wear.

We were both really thrilled as it was an improvement over the fit and feel of our previous design.

I Ignored My Well Learned Lesson. Oops.

Cheryl wore her leather cuff watch everyday. It had that comfortable fit and we thought we’d model her coin and horse heads project off of it. She really didn’t want me to ship it across the country to the East Coast to my leather guy.  I totally understood that. I figured we can work from pictures and measurements right?  I had reached out to three local leather workers I found online and no one called me back!

My East Coast leather worker did beautiful work. This could work right? Well….

Horse head done in wax before casting in gold

Measuring the First Horse Head to Prepare to Make the Second One

Starting the Steps of Making Cheryl’s Coin and Horse Cuff Bracelet

I leaped forward enthusiastically on the horses heads and making a strong bezel to hold the gold coin. I knew the bezel frame for the coin had to be extra strong, as I imagined Cheryl might decide to wear her bracelet while horseback riding.

For the record I’d rather you love your jewelry and wear it until it breaks than “protect” it by leaving it in a box.

Both of the Opposing Horse Head Waxes Done

Both of the Opposing Horse Head Waxes Done

The horse head waxes were carved to oppose each other and to be strong. Bracelets get banged and bashed around a lot more than people realize.

You often don’t notice when it’s taken a good crack. I do a lot of bracelet repairs and you can see all the dings and dents and missing diamonds. And the owner usually says, “I didn’t do anything.” I’ve thought the same thing as I looked at the damage I’ve unknowingly done to my jewelry.

Waxes of Horses, I can do That!

I showed Cheryl the waxes and she was liking their realistic look. I didn’t go for cartoony or too artsy. No one gets excited about waxes of bezels so I didn’t show her those.

I Just Wasn't Feelin it

The First Leather Prototype. I Just Wasn’t Feelin it

The Leather Prototype

The first leather cuff prototype shipped to me lacked the vibe I was looking for. As did the second. I felt that my East Coast leather guy and I were too far away from each other to figure it out. I also felt that the design itself was part of the problem. But being out of my area of expertise – leather – I felt a bit lost.

The Brick Wall, That Place No Jeweler Wants to Be

I told Cheryl that I was not loving these leather prototypes. I didn’t feel that I was able to effectively communicate with my leather guy in order to problem solve this. I’d hit a brick wall.

I’d been referring to my collaborator as “my leather guy.”  “We need another leather guy” I told her. I hate telling someone I don’t know the answer and that I’m stumped, but that’s what I had to do.

My Awesome Client and Finn at The Leather Shop are My Heroes

My Awesome Client and Finn at The Leather Shop are My Heroes

The Most Wonderful Problem Solving Client

Luckily, Cheryl was willing to jump in and help out. She saved the day by finding Finn, the owner of The Leather Shop in Morro Bay. She called me and said, “I found ‘The Guy!’” She meant the leather guy who’d ultimately make her leather bracelet dreams a reality.

Finn, the new leather guy, took the leather design in a different direction, he suggested a leather bracelet that fully closed instead of a stiff cuff. It turned out to be a great idea because it was more secure and a better fit. I was happy to see the snug tailored fit it gave instead of the more stiff look a cuff would have had.

Woman wearing a leather bracelet with watch strap like closure

Cheryl Wearing her Fabulous Leather Coin and Horse Head Bracelet

I’m a Better Jeweler Because of This Project

I believe there is a designer in each of us. Cheryl has proven this is true with her regular collaborative contributions to our projects. I also learned that if I hit a brick wall, and I just tell my client “I’m in the weeds” that they may be able to help me. Cheryl sure did.

With her help we had a better project than our original plans would have led us to. The day I saw the finished leather bracelet back from Finn I was speechless. I loved that I’d been a part of this unique project.

Now that I know Finn I can work with him in order to make other wonderful leather and gold bracelets. I can be creative and solve any gold problems while he can figure out the leather part!

Bezel Set Coin With Spikes for Hooking onto the Leather and the Horse Head with a Hidden Gold Spike for Leather Mounting

Bezel Set Coin With Spikes for Hooking onto the Leather and the Horse Head with a Hidden Gold Spike for Leather Mounting

Your Jeweler is a Person too

When you are next having something designed, you can ask to see the CAD images or the wax.

You can make sure that what you pictured is being worked into your future piece of jewelry.

And maybe some bright idea of yours can improve your design, but your jeweler won’t know if you don’t share.

Cover of publication with a Calla Gold Design

The Design Featured in the Article on Innovative Jewelry Design

Your Input Counts

Some of my finest designs have come about because my clients pushed me out of my familiar, comfortable areas and design habits.

A national jewelry magazine, MJSA, published a two page spread on just such a project. “The Architect’s Ring.” (The fifteenth item in “Calla Gold in the News” section.)

Collaborating Jeweler,
Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Dr. Lynn K. Jones
9 years ago

I think it’s great that you’re willing to take chances and expand your abilities Calla! Reading about your adventures in leather and gold was fascinating. In High School I dabbled in leather work which gives me a better understanding of how a great leather worker can make all the difference to a project like yours. I also appreciate the business message of communicating to your client when the going got rough. In a situation where the business owner won’t communicate when there is a pretty insurmountable problem, there is often a full refund needed and an upset client to boot.… Read more »

Lisa Darsonval
9 years ago

I know it is hard to admit that you do not know what to do, but I believe it is a great business practice to be able to do that. Personally, if I feel I cannot represent someone and help them find the relationship they are looking for, I have to turn them away, as much as I’d love to help them. How amazing is it that Cheryl was able to help collaborate with you on this though! I also think it is so great that you have people to reach out to for help in areas such as leather.… Read more »

Amy Marie Orozco
9 years ago

I really like the way the bracelet closes. That leather watchband-like security, like a tiny belt closure looks so comfortable. It is getting ideas going in my mind!
I’m glad you shared this story. It’s so much easier (and sometimes just in the long run) to communicate the situation clearly and early. And the story had a happy ending, to boot!
Writer Amy

Linda Menesez
9 years ago

I love that you wrote this, Calla! Open, honest communication is so important in any relationship, including between an amazing jeweler and her helpful client. Thanks for admitting that you were temporarily stuck.
The project itself, horses, a precious coin from a loving father worked in leather, what a wonderful idea.


Linda Perkins
Linda Perkins
9 years ago

I love that you can embrace and welcome your client’s input!

9 years ago

I loved this story. Sometimes, two heads are better than one. Its not easy to ask for help from clients but in doing so, something magical happened 😉