The Sixteen Steps to Your Custom Jewelry Design

Yeah, he could jump.

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.

Throwing Your Heart Over

Jewelry Design, From Drawing to Finished Ring

From Drawing to Finished Ring

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 your ring or other types 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

Close up picture of Pinterest page with Wedding Rings

Pinterest Board with Engagement and Wedding Ring Ideas

1. 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. Sketch out a preliminary drawing of what is wanted. Your Jeweler should do this.

Drawing of Design

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. 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.

Written bid for a custom jewelry project

A Bid From Your Jeweler

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.

3-D print of CAD of an engagement ring

Three-D Printed Wax of Custom Engagement Ring

8. Refine and modify the wax model as needed. Jeweler's job.

Man and woman looking at a wax model of an engagement ring

Looking at the Details of Their Engagement Ring

9. Approve the wax model. Your job.

Chosen Diamonds for a Custom Ring

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.


Working on the Texture

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.

Watch band with Hand Engraved Monogram Oval to Replace Old Tiny Watch

Oval and Engraved Center Monogram Joined to Inherited Watch Band

15. 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.

Just the Way He Wanted Them

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?

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.

Your Personal 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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Lorrie Thomas Ross
12 years ago

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

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

Maria Cordi
Maria Cordi
12 years ago

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.

Patricia Gozlan
12 years ago

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… Read more »

12 years ago

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 🙂

Coach Gayle
12 years ago

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!

12 years ago

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……. 😉

Erica Ross-Krieger
12 years ago

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.