In another life, I would have loved to be a jewelry designer. I love jewelry and as a child, playing with beads (or better yet, sorting my mom’s jewelry box) was probably my top hobby. I had a rocks and minerals collection that took up several boxes under my bed, and I was super crafty. I’d make my own beads out of Fimo clay and make bracelets, necklaces, the works. In college I studied business out of practicality but a part of me wishes I’d gone to a school like FIT and studied something more creative.
A story I don’t think I have told here is that when I was in my late twenties (2008?), I decided that I would take night classes (Introduction to Jewelry Design) at FIT. Every Tuesday and Thursday after work I would hoof over from my office on Park Ave to their Chelsea campus for class. It was a big commitment; working all day and then taking class until about 9pm. I had a demanding day job in the beauty industry but jewelry was my passion. And I was excited. I was following my dreams!
My Custom Flower Ring
This is not a story of a young woman who made over her life and followed her dreams (that came later, when I started my blog!). I didn’t quite realize how hard it would be. My class involved sawing, drilling, heavy duty polishing machines, making our own wax casting molds… it was rough! My hands were always torn up (and covered with tarnish). I was totally exhausted from leaving the house at 7 and getting home after 9. I didn’t continue any further after that first class but it was an experience I learned a lot from.
After that job in the beauty industry, I went on to work at BaubleBar for four years. I was their fourth hire and back then everyone was doing everything. So even though I was running social and influencer marketing, I got to give input into styles I thought would work, trends, etc. It scratched the itch, at least a little bit.
That is enough story telling for now… today we are talking about the beauty of custom jewelry! Earlier this year, my friend Lauren reached out, asking me if I would want to collaborate on a custom piece. My answer was a resounding YES. I knew exactly what I wanted to design with her: a massive statement flower ring (pictured above). I wanted to share a bit about how the process worked as it let me indulge my inner jewelry designer dreams (but in more of a “I want a flower ring, I like these colors and stones, you do the hard stuff!” sort of way).
The process was so much fun.
I loved working with Lauren. She has such a “can do” attitude and any time I had an issue or question, she had a solution. I was blown away by her passion for the business and her knowledge of all of the different stones. Together, we created a piece of jewelry that I will wear and love for years and years to come. I wanted to share the process here as it was fun and just a really COOL experience.
Like I said, I knew I wanted a flower ring. I wanted to incorporate turquoise as it is one of my absolute favorite stones. But I’ve been doing so much malachite and green… it felt time for a change. Lauren said that back and forth with her clients tends to vary by the person. Some clients will just say “do your thing,” while others will say “I want to approve the stones and see the CAD.” I was definitely the former. We chose all of the stones together (lots of back and forth on stones and approving the CAD) but for me, that was the fun part!
How long does a custom piece take?
In terms of timing for a custom piece, some projects will take four weeks some will take eight. She says, “If it’s super obscure and I’m on a hunt sourcing the perfect material, it could be longer but those are safe general guidelines.” Mine didn’t end up being anything obscure. We wound up using a 12mm sleeping beauty turquoise stone for the center. And alternating rhodalite and citrine stones along the sides.
I asked Lauren about the best parts of going custom (besides, getting the exact piece you want and you know… pretending to be a jewelry designer!) and she raised so many good points.
“Getting to align your budget with what’s possible and choosing every detail from the shade of stones to the finger size, metal color, and every other option in between! You have to think- a jewelry store can only stock so much due to space, budget, etc – there’s no way you can just walk in somewhere and say “I want a garnet ring with an aquamarine halo” and expect them to have it. It also costs a FORTUNE to have a jewelry store- the overhead is INSANE. And that has to get passed in some part (or in most cases, large part) to the client. Because I don’t have the overhead of a traditional jeweler, those savings are passed onto the client!“
Lastly, just for fun:
I asked Lauren what the most interesting commission she’s had so far. I loved her answer (and this attitude!). “Anytime someone tells me, “I want a piece with these stones in it but they won’t work together” I get so excited because chances are it DOES work. Everyone thinks they hate garnet, but they have never seen rose, spessartite, Tsavorite, or grape varieties. People groan that they are August because they hate peridot but in fact, there are some INCREDIBLE peridot out there and if it’s still not their jam? Welcome to spinel, the August alternative. Chances are they have never even heard of it!
So I love the education piece of it and making magic when the client is convinced there’s nothing that can be done. In terms of my most coveted piece in the past year? 72” of sleeping beauty turquoise because I was looking for a needle in a haystack and I can safely say I’ll never be able to come across them again because that mine was exhausted back in 2012. I see SO many beautiful things and am so lucky that my clients trust me to execute on their jewel dreams- I’m having a “pinch me” experience and am so grateful!“
My ring in action! I could not love it more. If you are interested in creating your own custom piece, the best way to get ahold of Lauren is via her Instagram account!