Breakdown of Custom Jewelry Creation [Infographic]
Written by Annabelle
February 14, 2019
So you're prepared to get a custom jewelry creation…and then you flinch at the price quoted. In reality, most custom creations are reasonably priced. Consider the metal, the labor, the stones (if necessary) and just think about the fact that this is one unique piece being created expressly for you! Take a look at our custom creation pricing breakdown below.
Custom Jewelry: The Pricing Breakdown
In order to understand why custom jewelry creation prices can be so extravagant, here's a brief summary of the creation process and necessary materials.
The Custom Creation Process
- Establish the design: The client comes in with a description, picture, or actual item they want to use as a basis for the custom creation. Our in-house designers take notes on all the necessary details, including desired metal and gemstones.
- Create a CAD: With the notes and visual aids from the client, the designers create a Computer Aided Design (CAD). The CAD is necessary for the production of the item, and is sent to the client for review.
- Casting: Once the client approves of the CAD, the jewelry is created. The CAD is a 3D file that is sent to a 3D printer, which prints a replica of the item in wax. This wax model is encased in plaster to form a mold. Molten metal is then used in the mold to cast the jewelry.
- Finishing: At this final stage, the jewelry goes through any necessary stone setting, enameling, plating, or polishing before it's sent to the client.
Just think about all that work! But wait- there's more.
Components of the Custom Jewelry Process:
- CAD (Computer Aided Design): The CAD is the first thing that is created during the custom jewelry creation. Since it requires a specially trained designer and industry-grade 3D software, the CAD is always $150.
- Metal: The metal you choose is one of the important factors that determines your custom creation price. Sterling silver is the cheapest, followed by gold that gets more expensive the higher the karat (10k, 14k, 18k) and platinum at the very top of the price range. Once the metal has been selected, the rest of the metal cost is determined by how heavy the item is; for example, a 10k gold ring that weighs 6 grams is approximately $520 to $600, excluding additional materials such as stones.
- Stones: The prices for stones depend on several factors: the size, the quality, the amount of stones needed, and the cutting fees.
- Size: Stone sizes are measured by carat; the larger the carat size, the more expensive the stone. When stones are used in a custom creation, and need to be supplied, the price for sourcing them takes into account the size of the stone(s) required. The total carat weight of all stones in the final design also contribute to the price for creating the item. In the example above with the ring duplication, you can see that the total carat weight of the three stones is 0.48, as each stone is approximately 0.16 carat.
- Quality: Diamonds and colored gemstones are graded differently, with separate systems for assessing quality. Diamonds are measured by the famous “4 C's” established by the Gemological Institute of America: cut, clarity, color, and carat. Here's a brief breakdown of clarity and color grading:
Colored gemstone grading depends on the type of stone. While the clarity grading system is still applicable (such as an VVS ruby), there are other factors that affect value. For instance, one ruby may be slightly orange, which would decrease its market value in comparison to a true red ruby. That being said, it's all up to personal preference: some people like the opaque, imperfect look of included-grade stones, or less popular colors like the orange-tinted ruby. If that's the case, the stones selected for your custom design will be comparatively cheaper than high-quality gems.
- Amount of stones: It goes without saying that the more stones you want, the more it adds to your custom jewelry creation fee. Keep in mind that the quantity of stones needed corresponds to increased labor- if you have 13 gems in your design, you have 13 gems that need to be set into the piece. Setting stones is not an easy task, and can be difficult depending on the style of the setting and the cut of the stone.
- Cutting fees: Most lapidaries (individuals who source and cut stones) have certain sizes and cuts in stock. However, custom pieces often require special-cut gemstones. The price for getting a gem cut depends on the stone's type, size, and complexity of the cut requested.
- Labor: The materials are expensive, but so is the craftsmanship that goes into your piece.
- Polishing: This is a mandatory step in the last stage of the custom creation process. It requires a specially trained polisher to carefully buff the final piece. If the design needs a certain type of finish, such as satin, the polisher is responsible for creating that finish.
- Plating: In order to cut costs, some clients choose to cast their jewelry in sterling silver and plate over it with gold. Depending on the thickness and karat fineness of the gold, this step can be quite expensive.
Hopefully this breakdown has given you a better picture of what to consider for a custom jewelry creation. Remember this quick formula: CAD + Materials + Labor = Custom Jewelry. Once you have that memorized, you're fully prepared to start making your custom piece! Check out the form below to get started.