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Custom Design Process

The custom design process  

A breakdown of how it works

Thank you so much for choosing me to handcraft your custom jewelry. Custom work is my passion and specialty, and the connection I make with my clients during this process can be somewhat magical. Our stories interweave and the jewelry we create together is so much more meaningful, personal, and special than something you can buy at a store. It's truly an honor to be part of something like this, and I hope you'll feel the same!

With more than a decade of experience, I am able to bring a vast array of techniques, processes, and gemstone knowledge to the forefront but it is the communication between me and my clients that is most important when it comes to custom work. Whether you know exactly what you want or need my help in coming up with your perfect piece, I will listen and help guide you to the finished result of a gorgeous future heirloom you’ll be delighted to wear (or to give)!    

Handcrafted with love and made from scratch. But what does that really mean, anyway?    

My process is completely handmade with my own two hands in my studio in Pacific Grove, CA.  This means that unlike many jewelry companies, I don’t use CAD­/CAM computer software to draw images of the designs, I don’t have a 3­D printer, and I don’t use molds of the same piece to recreate over and over again. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe the best things are still made by hand! Every bezel, ring shank, jump ring and hammer mark is done by me, usually with a smile on my face and some good music in the background. When you work with me you are working one-­on-­one with an artisan trained in metalsmithing techniques handed down from thousands of years, making your custom jewelry truly one of a kind and unique to you or your special someone.    

So how does it work?    

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First, I need to get a good idea of what you’re looking for. Along with this 'How it Works' info sheet is a questionnaire that is the first step in beginning our process together. By answering these simple questions, it will get you thinking about all the qualities you want in your perfect piece of jewelry--so that I can make it come to life! My goal is to far exceed your expectations, and making sure we're on the same page is the first step to ensure that will happen.

(Sometimes my clients are looking for a piece I've made in the past with just a small change like a different metal color or a different gemstone. In that case we can skip the next step.)

Next, we'll schedule an appointment together so we can dream up the perfect designs, either in person in my studio in Pacific Grove, or on the phone or through video consultation via FaceTime. Allowing you to bring your ideas and wishes to the design process is important to me. I listen, gather information, and advise you on gemstone and metal selection as well as design options that fit into all the things that are important to you. An in-person meeting or phone conversation is often our chance to communicate the things that are somewhat difficult to describe in words, and gives me the opportunity to consider your lifestyle and get a feeling for your personality so that I can create a piece just for you. I ask for a non-refundable $200 Consultation & Design Deposit which will be incorporated into the final balance and holds our appointment slot. During our consultation, I will sketch drawings of our ideas and provide an estimate for the custom work. 
 
Last, once you've decided on a design, we will handle the logistics. Together, we form a Custom Work Contract with all the details of the design including final drawings, due date, method of delivery, balance due, etc.  I require a 50% deposit to begin the build, and we will form a payment plan for the remaining balance which will be due in full upon completion of the custom jewelry. When the piece is finished I will make either a final balance listing on etsy for my out of town folks, or the final balance will be due upon pick-up for my local clients. 

Custom Work FAQ’s    

Q: I love a piece you made in the past, can you make it again?
 A: Usually, yes! I would love to make another similar to it! The handmade process always means that no two pieces will ever be the same--­­and that's why it's an incredible process! Working this way also allows for me to customize the piece just for you. If you'd like a different stone, a different stone shape or a different metal, or wish it had accent stones where the first piece did not--or have another idea entirely...­­the options are endless and that's really what makes the custom process so fun and unique to you.    

Q: What types of metals do you use, and where does it come from?  
A: I work in recycled precious metals; mostly gold in different colors (rose, yellow, white, green)  and karats (14k, 18k, 22k), and sterling silver but it is *usually not economical to build a custom piece in sterling silver. I buy my stock from a reputable US manufacturing company that supplies only recycled metal, and usually alloy all my own colors and karats myself.    

I don't work in titanium, tungsten, niobium, stainless steel, copper, silicone, carbon fiber, or  wood.    

*The labor and time involved in a custom wedding/engagement ring made in sterling silver will usually drive the price up too high to be reasonable. If you're looking for the silver color I recommend 14k or 18k white gold. Although sterling silver can last with special care, it is not best suited for rings for every ­day wear or people who work with their hands. A ring made in gold will withstand the test of time and will require much less maintenance through the course of its life.    

Q: Can you recycle my old jewelry into a new custom piece?  
A: Unfortunately, no. Although I use recycled metals, that means that I purchase them from refineries who supply only refined metals that come from previously mined sources. The metal may have come from old jewelry at one point in its life, but then it went through a very long and expensive process to reconstitute the molecular structure of the metal to make it usable as if it were new again. If the piece isn't sentimental, I can send it to the refinery and give you a credit of the current market value which you can use towards the purchase of your new jewelry (a great way to keep the recycling process going!).


Recent Custom work Feedback

Erica and her work are simply amazing, stunning, and wonderful. Erica was so communicative and supportive and patient with all my questions through the planning process! She was willing to take on a challenge, and brought my idea to life effortlessly! She truly is an artist worth her salt, and I’m so happy to have a unique piece of art that will last! Thank you, Erica!
— Sarah H., January 2017
Ahhh once again Erica works her magic. I wanted a ring to symbolise the Mother line in my family - my Nan, my Mother, Myself and my Daughter. This is so much more than a ring, but a symbol of spiritual strength, love and kindness. Erica pours her heart and soul into her work and it shows. This is something I will treasure and pass onto my daughter one day when she (hopefully) becomes a Mother herself x Thank you Erica x
— Laura O., November 2015
Erica was a pleasure to work with, offering plenty of options to help this somewhat clueless customer out. The engagement ring she made for me is gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, and more importantly, got the job done!
— Marcus W., September 2016