Considering A Custom Piece?
I enjoy working directly with a customer to create a custom design that reflects the wearer's personality and taste. Here is some important information for anyone interested in commisioning a unique fair trade piece. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.
- Getting Started
A great way to start exploring what you do and don't like is to take a look at my past work; the most comprehensive collection of these images is on my Flickr page.
- Ring Size
To be sure that you order the correct size, I suggest stopping in at a local jewelry shop to have your finger sized. Be aware that wider ring bands may tend to feel snugger than narrow bands, so if youíre going to order a wide band, ask your local jeweler to use a wide band sizer. Another thing to consider is the fact that comfort-fit bands can sometimes feel slightly more loose than straight-sided bands.
If you're trying to surprise someone with a ring and you need help guessing his/her ring size, check out these helpful tips.
- Stone Type(s)
There are a huge variety of fair trade stones available for your custom piece.
Whether you are looking for something traditional and diamond-like (I use moissanite), or something more colorful, chances are, there is a fair trade option that will meet your needs. Iíve even put together a guide to fair trade birthstones.
- Type of Metal
I use recycled Harmony Metals in all of my work.
[ Read about my commitment to working with ethical materials. ]
Sterling Silver is the most affordable option. It lends itself well to a wide variety of finishes, from a high polish, to a brushed, or even oxidized (blackened) effect. Sterling silver does tarnish over time; however, tarnish is easily removed with a soft polish cloth. Sterling silver is softer than gold, so it is quite a bit more susceptible to showing scratches, nicks, dents, and dings.
Most of my designs are also available in Palladium Sterling Silver which, just like traditional sterling silver, is composed of 92.5% silver; however, palladium sterling silver also contains 3% palladium (a precious metal akin to platinum), which gives the alloy a bit more tarnish- and scratch- resistance than traditional sterling silver. Palladium sterling silver is still quite a bit softer than gold though.
Neither sterling silver nor palladium sterling silver are generally recommended for wedding rings due to their softness and susceptibility to showing nicks, dings, and scratches with daily long-term wear. I am happy to make these options available for those on a very tight budget, but please do be aware of the downside of choosing one of these materials. If, on the other hand, you like your jewelery to show character (in the form of wear), the idea of a ring changing and weathering over time appeals to you, and you're not super hard on your jewelry, it can be a reasonable choice.
14k yellow, white, rose, and green gold are also available for most designs. All will hold up well to a lifetime of wear. Gold does not oxidize (or tarnish), and it accepts a variety of finishes, including polished, brushed, etc.
Please be aware that I do not rhodium plate my regular 14k white gold, so it will have a warmer tone than the rhodium plated versions you may have seen in mass marketed jewelry. If you want to order something in white gold and like the bright-white look that rhodium plating offers, you should be able to have your ring plated locally after you receive it. This is a non-permanent treatment that will likely need to be re-applied every couple of years to maintain a bright white finish. Regular 14k white gold, left un-plated, can tend to acquire a yellower tone than some customers like with the passage of time.
14k Palladium White Gold contains the same gold content as conventional white gold (58.5%), but adds a small amount of palladium to the mix, which gives it a slightly brighter color and better workability. The added palladium is supposed to give some measure of increased resistance to yellowing over time when compared with regular 14k white gold. This is also an excellent nickel-free alternative to traditional white gold, for those who have sensitivities to nickel.
18k Palladium White Gold is also nickel-free, and has the best grey/white (non-yellow) color of any of the white gold alloys I work with.
950 Palladium is made up of 95% pure palladium, which is a noble metal in the platinum family. 950 Palladium is nickel-free and hypoallergenic, and it has a brighter (non-yellow) color (I would describe it as silvery-white when polished and more grey when given a matte finish) than any of the white gold alloys. It will not yellow over time, and for those who are very color-sensitive and don't want any yellow tone to their jewelry, it is my top recommendation. It is also a bit more affordable than either of the palladium white gold options.
Metal Comparison Chart
Metal hardness is indicated by a measure called Vickers Hardness (HV).
The chart below shows the composition and HV ratings of each of
the metals I currently work with.
||.925 silver, copper
|Palladium Sterling Silver
||.925 silver, .03 palladium, zinc, copper
|14k Yellow Gold
||.585 gold, copper, silver, zinc
|14k White Gold
||.585 gold, copper, nickel, zinc
|14k Rose Gold
||.585 gold, copper, silver, zinc
|14k Green Gold
||.585 gold, copper, silver, zinc
|14k Palladium White Gold
||.585 gold, copper, silver, palladium
|18k Palladium White Gold
||.752 gold, copper, palladium
||.952 palladium, other proprietary metals
Top to bottom:
14k palladium white gold with moissanite
14k yellow gold with citrine
14k green gold with Oregon sunstone
14k rose gold with Oregon sunstone
- Band Size/Style
Many varieties of sizes, shapes, and finishes are available for the band of your ring, from the narrowest little 2mm band to a substantial 8mm band (and on up). I can do smooth bands, hammered bands, floral textured bands, square-edged bands, comfort-fit (rounded edge) bands, and more.
- A Note on Customer-Supplied Stones
I often receive requests from customers to build a ring using a stone they provide. Unfortunately, at this time, I am unable to assume the liability associated with working with customers' stone. There is a very slight (but ever-present) risk of damaging a stone during the setting process, and it's not a risk that I am currently comfortable accepting.
As an alternative, I am happy to discuss creating a ring without a stone, which you can then take to a local jewelry shop to have your stone set into - most jewelers will charge less than $100 for this service.
- Turnaround Time
My turnaround time on custom orders is usually around 3-4 weeks. Rush orders can sometimes be accommodated, and are subject to a $50-$100 rush fee (the exact amount depends on the complexity of the design requested).
- Payment Terms
I require a 50% deposit on custom work at the time the order is placed, with the remaining 50% payable upon completion of the piece. I accept payments via Paypal, money order, or credit card (if you prefer to use your credit card outside of Paypal, please contact me to schedule a phone call).
- Return Policy
Due to the significant investment of time, materials, and creative energy that go into each custom piece, the 50% deposit is generally non-refundable, except in the rare case of product defect or artist error. Depending on my opinion of the chance for re-selling the item, I may, at my own discretion, make exceptions to this policy.
I know that it can be tough ordering custom jewelry online, but there are a few things you can do to ensure a positive outcome. First, ask questions. If there's anything you aren't totally clear on during the process, just ask me for clarification. Second, seek out jewelry in person with similar dimensions to what you're ordering from me; if, for example, you're thinking about ordering a ring with a 5mm wide x 2mm thick band and a 7mm stone, stop in to a local jewelry shop and try something on that's about that same size.
Also, depending on what you're interested in ordering, I may have a similar piece in stock that I can mail to you to look at in person for a couple of days (this requires an authorize-only transaction on your credit card, which reduces your available balance by the cost of the item, but does not actually charge you for the item).
If you have questions or concerns about this policy, please feel free to bring it up for further discussion with me, either by phone or email. My goal is always to have happy customers, and I will do all that I can to ensure a positive outcome.
If you have any questions or comments about the information I've provided here, or if you're ready to chat about a custom design, please get in touch.