Custom Jewelry: Design & Process


…for the design of custom jewelry is everywhere.

Custom jewelry: A logo using gold and Carnelian

This custom jewelry piece was inspired by a magnificent sunrise.

It may come at unexpected moments and from unexpected directions. Color, texture, heft, feel…the smooth curve of beach worn granite…a moment, an era, a lifetime…a true love.

The thing that draws me to expression in precious metals through custom jewelry, is the adaptability of these metals to most any design consideration. From moonlit tropical beach scenes to a Hopi wedding shawl or ancient Chinese pottery designs, virtually anything that interests you may serve as a starting point. This can include lifestyle, hobbies, shared activities, or aesthetic attractions. For one client who grew up surfing near Dana Point in California we depicted the way waves break at that location. For another, a shooting star over a moonlit mountain lake. Designs can be boldly representational, such as a specific rosebud or architecture, or subtly suggestive like the vague forms clouds make in the summer sky. Precious metals such as gold, platinum, and silver can do it. Anything is possible. Tell me your stories, and I’ll make something special for you or someone you love, and build your own special meaning into the object we create.

Just what is Custom Jewelry?

Our specialty here at Gary Dawson Designs is “Full Custom Design” as defined by the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America. (MJSA)

MJSA’s  Council of Custom Jewelers, of which Gary is a founding member, recognizes three tiers to custom work within our industry.

Full Custom Design: A jewelry design made from scratch specifically for a customer.

Semi-Custom Design: Existing designs that have been modified to alter their shapes or appearance.

Made to Order: Existing designs manufactured by request, modified only by sizing and choice of metal and/or gemstone.

We do however, have a line of existing designs that we frequently modify for specific clients so our work may also fall into both other categories, depending on the specific project.

Our Full Custom Design Process

We may utilize office visits, email, phone conversations, online conferencing, and digital imaging to communicate frequently during the entire process. Simple sketching may be useful in the beginning but generally, after establishing a design direction I will either hand carve in wax, or create in a CAD application, a 3-dimensional prototype for your inspection. This inspection may be done by visiting our downtown Eugene, OR office, or utilize digital imaging via email.  Alternatively, if you are one of our many distant clients, I can send you a durable model for your personal inspection. With the three-dimensional prototype, you will be able to really get a “feel” for the object we are making. In addition, I can normally mount any gemstone that we are incorporating in the design into model so you can actually see how the gem will work in the design.

custom-jewelry-cadBecause we work together on concept, the first viewing of your model may (and often does) result in approval of the design. Sometimes however, we will get close but perhaps not exactly what you have visualized. At that point your honest feedback will help us revise the model to better suit your vision. We will go through this feedback loop as many times as it takes to arrive at the final revision. My flat design and production fee essentially buys as much time as it takes to make it right for you.

Upon approval of the design, through the magic of the lost-wax casting process, the final model revision actually becomes the finished metal object. What you see in the model is truly what you get in the finished project – be it gold, silver, platinum, or one of our new alternative materials which range from stainless steel to ceramic.

When the handcrafted design is approved for completion, we can calculate the finished price for your project by implementing a volumetric analysis of the object.  Please see our pricing and policies page for further info on this topic.

Stress Free Custom Jewelry

Many of our clients come to us committed to the idea of a personal project, such as wedding or commitment rings, but have not yet arrived at a specific idea. We can still make it easy for you!

One technique that may help would be to initially to consider the design process one of elimination.  Sometimes it is easier to know for sure what you don’t want than what you do want! Answering a few very basic questions may prove helpful and I like to think about both lifestyle and aesthetics in this initial stage.

Is this object one that will be worn every day, like most commitment rings, wedding bands and engagement rings?
Will the piece include gems?
Do you like bulky or more delicate things?
Do you like swoops and curves or do you favor lines and angles?
Do you like the sturdy feel of a solid design or do you prefer openness?
Middle ground is an acceptable answer. And you can see how, five or six questions later, we may not yet know exactly how the piece will look, but we know enough to get a direction for our design process. Usually, at that point I can offer some initial design ideas and we can continue to refine the piece as necessary.

Gary is an internationally recognized goldsmith with over 40 years of working closely  with his clients. Nearly everyone he has worked with over that time has walked away with something to treasure, feeling the design process to be both enjoyable and rewarding.

Your Jewelry: Just in Time

On average, our custom process takes from 6-8 weeks. It can vary greatly however depending on a variety of factors including but not limited to complexity, your preferred payment options and in some cases, availability of gem materials.

I invite you to request a quote by either calling 541-729-2531 or filling out our Custom Quote Request Form.