The Sixteen Steps to Your Custom Jewelry Design

Bay Horse Jumping an Obstacle

Take a Chance, Make Your Jewelry Dream Come True

Jumping Horses and Jewelry Design

This Santa Barbara Jewelry designer loved riding and jumping horses as a teen. I galloped on the Santa Barbara beaches, jumped fallen trees and lived and breathed horses.

“Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow” this quote was from horseman, author and clergyman – Norman Vincent Peale.

He spoke of knowing what you want and confidently going for it. In order to give your horse the confidence to leap over an obstacle, you have to throw your heart over and he will follow.  At any rate, it was great advice.

Jewelry Design, From Drawing to Finished Ring

From Drawing to Finished Ring

Throwing Your Heart Over

Not only does it work really well in jumping horses over high fences, it works in many other aspects of life, too—including…jewelry design!

Among the steps in designing the ring or other type of jewelry you’ve always wanted, is finally saying “Yes.” And embarking on your dream design.

The Sixteen Steps in Jewelry Design and Who Does What

  1. Close up picture of Pinterest page with Wedding Rings

    Pinterest Board with Engagement and Wedding Ring Ideas

    Discuss what you like and don’t like with your jeweler. See my blog: How Lord Google can Help You Design Your Wedding Ring.) Also see: How to Use Pinterest to Design Your Engagement Ring, to pull your detailed likes into one place.
  2. Monogram Design for Watch Band

    Design Drawing

    Sketch out a preliminary drawing of what is wanted. Your Jeweler should do this.
  3. Refine and modify the drawing. Include exact measurements and finger size. Your Jeweler should do this.
  4. Approve the drawing. You do this.
  5. calla-gold-jewelry-wax-model

    A Computer Aided Modeling Machine Grew This Wax Row by Row Very Precisely.

    Bid the cost of the project including materials and labor. Your bid should include the drawing done at your previous meeting. The bid should be given to you. Your Jeweler’s job.
  6. Say “Yes” to going ahead with the project! Your job.
  7. Carve a wax model of the drawing. Check out the different types of waxes that you have to choose from in my blog:  Wax Carving Explained in Jewelry Design-The Three Types of Wax Model Making for Jewelry – Your Jeweler’s job.
  8. Refine and modify the wax model as needed. Jeweler’s job.
  9. Couple Looking at a ring wax from jeweler Calla Gold Jewelry

    Looking at the Wax model of Their Custom Designed Ring Together

    Approve the wax model. Your job.
  10. Procure and approve all gemstones that will be needed. Your Jeweler gets them and you approve them.
  11. Cast it in the metal of your choice. You don’t have to do this!
  12. Set all gemstones. Jeweler’s job.
  13. Add textures, special features, and engraving to the piece. It’s getting close to done! Jeweler’s job.
  14. Do final polishing. Jeweler’s job.
  15. Watch band with Hand Engraved Monogram Oval to Replace Old Tiny Watch

    Oval and Engraved Center Monogram Joined to Inherited Watch Band

    The Jeweler shows the piece to you and makes any adjustments that are necessary to make it just how you wanted it. This would include adjusting the size, altering the finish, rounding an edge or otherwise tweaking it to make it just right.
  16. You receive your newly designed custom jewelry and put it on and smile happily.

These Steps Aren’t Carved in Stone

Sometimes steps get reversed. Occasionally, “sub-steps” must be added. But you get the idea. Right?

Finished Rings, Just Like They Envisioned. Jewelry Design

Finished Rings, Just Like They Envisioned

May Your Custom Jewelry Design Soar

Have you always wanted a unique and special piece of jewelry for yourself? Good! Don’t be afraid to throw your heart over and make it so.

Calla Gold

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.


  1. Lorrie Thomas Ross on September 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for mapping this out Calla! I knew how hard you worked on my ring, seeing the steps to your magic is soo coolio!

    • Calla Gold on September 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Lorrie, it was such a cool experience working on your ring. We totally did the 16 steps!
      The design step was especially amazing with you because you are this powerhouse person, smart, travelling all over to share your online marketing message and artistic.
      Your ring is one of my favorite designs of all time.
      Calla Gold

  2. Kymberly on October 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I want to add a step: recognize that the wax model your jeweler provides will be and should run tight. It’s waxy after all so will be tough to get on and off. Unless your jeweler advises, don’t go up a size from the wax model thinking you suddenly got fatter fingers. Trust the measurements you took earlier.

    • Calla Gold on October 5, 2011 at 3:05 am

      Hi Kymberly,
      Thanks for commenting. I actually very carefully measure people’s rings before the wax carving portion of the design steps. The wax is too delicate to be tried on.
      I learned after breaking a couple early on that they don’t put up with our knuckles and just burst apart.
      So I rely on my metal ring sizers to tell me what will get over your knuckle and what won’t. It’s super important for the client to see the wax to make sure that the details discussed are understood and communicated in the wax. For example if you want sharp angles and an architectural look, seeing rounded soft looking edges is not going to fly. And better to see the mistake in the wax than in the finished product.
      Calla Gold

  3. AlexandraFunFit on December 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Wow, I never realized there were so many steps to custom jewelery design. Sixteen candles or sixteen steps? Both involve wax! What great attention to detail.

    • Calla Gold on December 8, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks for finding more fun things that involve the number sixteen!
      Calla Gold

  4. Lesa on February 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve often wondered how custom jewelry was created. Can you tell me how the process would work if your client is out of state?

    Thanks for this inside peek into the process. It’s quite fascinating.

    • Calla Gold on February 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

      That’s a great question. I definitely design for out of state clients. I have a free e-book on my website that shows a variety of style elements. It’s called “The Language of Jewelry Design” and is a free download on my site. It’s a recommended step that you make an “idea folder” with pictures of jewelry that has elements of your preferred style.
      We can go over your design element preferences over the phone via skype. Usually I’ll put the disparate elements that you’ve said you like together and come up with a drawing to share with you. I’ll explain the various elements and get your feedback. Frequently my long distance clients send me a picture of their hands.
      Part of my designing process includes taking into account the shape of your fingers, the age of your hands and your lifestyle.
      An example of this is that over 45 I’ve observed that wider bands complement our hands much more than tiny skinny bands which tend to show details of our hands best left unfocused on. Where the wider band complements our hand.
      On the other hand, some 20-something brides look like they are playing dress up in wider bands and need to stick to the tiny thin bands. And by band I mean the shank of the ring, not the central top design element with the main diamond and surrounding design.
      Your custom design should make you look good, not just sit there and look pretty. It needs to make you look pretty. That’s its job!
      Most of my out of town client look at their wax via pictures on email. However some want it mailed to them.
      I’m gratified with how well designing with my out of state clients has gone. Here’s a link with pictures of steps in designing a ring for Ralph, an out of town client and Historian:
      It’s my job to design a ring with your input that you’ll love and be proud of. I hope you’ll join the ranks of out of state clients who have jewelry collaboratively, (you and me,) custom designed by Calla Gold Jewelry.
      Calla Gold

  5. Maria Cordi on February 19, 2012 at 4:49 am

    This is a very interesting insight into your work as a jewellery designer, Calla. Is the wax design step new? I had an engagement ring custom made 20+ years ago, but I don’t recall this step.

    It’s actually a great idea to create a 3D visual representation of the finished piece.

    • Calla Gold on February 19, 2012 at 7:47 am

      Thank you for your excellent question. The wax step is not new.
      When I wanted to become a Jewelry Designer, I surveyed my clients about their interest in having their jewelry custom designed. Some loved the idea, but were afraid to get stuck with something that didn’t live up to their dream. I also heard horror stories of clients who said “yes” to a drawing and got a ring that wasn’t what they expected. So they wear it with a sense of loss.
      My happy-with-custom-design clients had been more a part of the design.These clients had been shown a wax model that they approved or had altered before the irreversible casting of gold or platinum occurred. By seeing that wax first they could let the Jeweler know if she had misunderstood a desired curve or if it felt too thick or if the placement of the side diamonds wasn’t really how it’d been envisioned by her client.
      It sometimes happens that what you say you want can change. Once my client Diane saw the wax of the design she’d wanted for her Tanzanite and held it by her hand she realized that it wasn’t complementary to her hand. She’d seen the design style on a woman in her family reunion party and thought it’d look great. It did set off the gemstone beautifully, but made her finger look unattractive. We agreed that it wouldn’t work. She asked what I’d suggest and I had an idea to make her hand look graceful and feminine. We made up a whole new wax model, she loved it and then we went into casting. And the ring looks great, showcasing her Tanzanite and making her hand look good too.
      I decided I didn’t want to be the butt of someone’s custom jewelry design horror story. Therefore I made the sharing of the wax model an important step in my custom jewelry design practice.
      Currently I am working with a graphic designer. He drew his design. We perfectly duplicated one element in particular from his drawing that didn’t translate well. When I showed it to him in the wax, he chuckled and said, “hmmm, that’s not how I meant that to translate.” He re-drew the element and we altered the wax. He then approved it and his ring looks unique and fantastic. He is essentially a jewelry designer. He has a great eye, wonderful drawing skills and imaginative ideas. My role as a designer was to take a backseat and do the steps that would allow him to have his vision be made real.
      Without the wax model checking phase in his design his ring would have looked 80% great and 20% OK.
      Having the client check the wax adds time to the project and rush jobs do not use this step. I just did a job where the finished wax views were photographed and emailed to my travelling client. She approved the wax models on the fly in the airport and will soon be re-united with her wedding diamond in the ring she always wanted.
      Before I can make the ring by casting it, a wax model must be made. It’s up to the designing Jeweler whether or not to share it with the client. I chose to share.
      Calla Gold

  6. Patricia Gozlan on February 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I am a fan of beautiful and refined jewelry so this article resonates with me.
    Working in fashion parallel to my coaching business I am in contact with designers in Italy. I have worked as a fashion agent for 15 years now.
    I love taking a model which I see in a window and changing the way it presents itself. When I did this twice I came up with amazing results.
    I believe that the jewelry designer did all the steps you mentioned here. This is the way professional work in Italy is done as well.
    I’d love to see more of your designs. As I said I just love jewelry especially in white gold. Best wishes!
    Fashion Agent

  7. Delia on February 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I am someone who learns from step-by-step instructions, so your blog post about jewelry design is right on! I also see how this is a great process for your customers, as they are participating directly in the design, rather than getting something at the end and asking themselves if this is the right piece for them.
    Very interesting, I have learned something new today 🙂

    • Calla Gold on February 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m a pretty step by step learner myself too. I’m glad you learned something new.
      I plan to pop over to your blog and see if I can learn something new today too!
      Calla Gold

  8. Coach Gayle on February 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Wow, Calla,
    When I read about the passion that goes into the design and creation, it makes me appreciate the custom pieces I have all the more. It also suggests to me that this could be a great way for me to thank a special family member or even a great client. I love the possibility of being a “co-creator” in the process. Everything seems more beautiful and possible when we put our hearts there first–great message I am carrying away!

    • Calla Gold on February 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      How great that you came up with all these good ideas from reading about the steps custom jewelry design. I hope people read your in-put. Special gifts for a family member or excellent client gifts are a great reason to co-create a one of a kind piece of jewelry.
      Calla Gold

  9. Rena on February 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    GREAT article, Calla! I wish I’d known you when I got married 15 years ago. I created a really cool design and took it to “the” custom jeweler where we lived at the time (San Diego) who basically just blew me off!!! We ended up finding a nice “cigar band” ring at another store which I had them modify and it’s really nice, but not as nice as what I came up with. Hmm…I think there may be a Calla Gold creation “anniversary ring” in my future……. 😉

    • Calla Gold on February 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Rena, When I started my design career I first asked people what they wanted in a custom designed experience. A few people like yourself wanted to make their own design. I vowed that I’d do as much as I could to encourage people to show me their vision of a unique design for them. It’s been so fun for me to not only be a Jewelry designer, but to create other people’s designs.
      It expands my viewpoint of beauty to see what people love.
      I’m just finishing a ring designed by a graphic designer. It’s so different and I’m so pleased to be a part of it.
      Call me when you have a special anniversary and let’s play!
      Calla Gold

  10. Erica Ross-Krieger on February 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    The great “take away” for me from this post is the idea of “throwing your heart over…” Such a great metaphor for entrepreneurs. We often need to move forward with a new adventure and trust that “the rest will follow.” How refreshing to see that this metaphor will be useful for many of us – from coaches to jewelry designers. Thanks so much.

    • Calla Gold on February 28, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Erica, I love that you got a nice take away from my post. It was so fun to use it because of my horseback riding happy history. I love to weave in the loves and fascinations of other parts of my life into my jewelry blog. And it is a blast to throw my heart over in whatever adventure personal or business that I find myself facing.
      May your coaching be fulfilling and your adventures wondrous!
      Calla Gold

  11. Yvette McIntire on March 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    From this post it is clear that you “throw your heart over” with every piece of jewelry you design. It is so inspirational to read about someone working with passion in a field they love.

    • Calla Gold on March 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Yvette, Thank you for writing. I love that you see the passion and love I feel for jewelry design. Hopefully you get to throw your heart over, in your chosen profession!
      Calla Gold

  12. Lynn on September 28, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I want to thank Calla Gold Jewelry for not only letting me know the steps to jewelry design, but giving me a clue what it’s like working with you.This is an excellent road map to personal jewelry design. It’s tough to be committed to one design–but you’re right: throw that heart over the fence! Great blog, Calla!

    • Calla Gold on September 28, 2012 at 8:39 am

      My cheeks hurt from smiling. Thank you very much Lynn!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  13. Carly on November 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

    This Sixteen Steps of Jewelry Design is so valuable. I was talking to a “jeweler” about what I wanted and it came to me that he was really trying to sell me on a design and then pull it out of his showcase.
    I wanted custom and he was saying this is custom. So I looked under my loupe at what he was pulling out and they had trademark marks and they were different and he was telling me they were his designs.
    So I flat out asked him if he’d do my design and he said “No, use one of these, they are nice for you.”
    So in reading your steps I realized there is a real difference from one jeweler to another.
    Thank you for informing me. I am prepared now to get the design I want!

    • Calla Gold on November 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Carly,
      I’m glad my explanation shed some light on custom designing your ring.

  14. Tracey D on January 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

    What a difference between going on the internet to pick some ring based on your budget and getting something meaningful.
    I was looking at “designer” rings at a store with my friend Sarah, after reading this article. she asked if she could use her diamond in the style they had. It is older cut and oval shaped. They really wanted her to get it as it was designed. After reading this I see that they may have carried designers rings but they were not themselves designers.
    Do you work with people in out of California?
    Thinking she wants custom designed for reals.
    Digging the Custom Idea

    • Calla Gold on January 21, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Dear Digging,
      I do help people custom design out of state and have done it a number of times.
      Distance Jeweler,

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