Design Part 1

Around the corner from my new office there is a wine merchant, Authentica Wines, with a sign on the door that says, “Come on in, it’s only wine!”  I smile as I walk by, knowing what he’s getting at.  Like wine, custom design can seem intimidating.  Like the merchant, I know how easy and enjoyable the process can be!

How does custom design happen at Gary Dawson Jewelry Design?  Well, there’s no set rule, and there’s no typical job.  In a way it is funny that it is called custom, because there’s no “customary” way to approach a project.  The main point is that it becomes about the client and each client is unique whether it is their taste in wine, or their design preferences.  Sometimes a design process takes only a brief consultation…the client knows exactly what they want and I know exactly how to make it. Done!

More often, the process is more complex.  In this post, I’m going to take you through the initial steps of a project, still simple but slightly more complex than the slam-dunk mentioned above.  I will pull examples from a current project to show how your project might go.

A recent client brought an older ring to her first appointment that was actually three rings welded together, all yellow gold.  It had 5 smaller gems of the same size, alternating round ruby and diamond.  The center was a simple design that held the gems in a row across the finger.  On each side was a thinner solid band.  She liked the general aesthetic of this combination, but wanted to change to white gold and update the look and feel of the design while keeping it very simple.

The first design iteration...

The first design iteration…

This was met with general approval and discussion ensued about how the outer edges of the gem arrangment seemed to just end abruptly.  How could we create a more graceful transition from the gems to the solid band?  Without a lot to go on other than the idea of transition, I ran some quick ideas by the client…

One of four new options...

One new option…

...and another

…and another



…which were immediately rejected.  The conversation then revealed that this client didn’t particularly want any form of symbolism like the fleur-de-lis and the beads filling a space didn’t do it for her either…

This is all good! I became aware long ago that a design process can sometimes take the form of a process of elimination.  With nearly infinite options, it is easier for many people to know what they don’t like than to pinpoint, much less describe, exactly what they do like.   After looking around on my website, we found a couple of design ideas that she liked and we discussed incorporating those themes into this general design.

So now we have, in a few simple steps, gained a direction (or two) to pursue.  The results are outstanding, demonstrating that the collaboration of client and artist can be extremely rewarding.

A whole new design incorporating elements of style chosen by the client!

A whole new design incorporating elements of style chosen by the client!

One of the new choices.

3 thoughts on “Design Part 1”

  1. My brother has been looking to get engaged to his longtime girlfriend, and I think that being able to find a jewellery design service to help him out would be great. I like that you mentioned that there is not customary way to go about with a custom ring design. I’m not really sure what all he’s looking for as far as jewellery design goes, but I think that him knowing that there’s no set way to do things would be helpful! Thanks for the information!

    1. Hi Max and thank you for your comment. I’d love to work with your brother and can chat with him by phone or email, whatever his preference. And yes, my process allows for infinite variation on how I can work with him (and or his fiancé). One of the things that draws me into custom work is that every project is, or at least can be, different.
      All my best to you and I’ll look forward to further communication with you or your bro.
      Gary D

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