How to Purchase Handmade Custom Jewelry


Purchasing custom handmade jewelry is akin to dancing with the jewelry designer. Customization may be an ancestral urge, but it is quickly becoming a symbol of social change and the Handmade Revolution. Because I am a Jewelry Designer, I am uniquely qualified to guide you through collaborating with a Jewelry Artisan to create your most perfect, custom piece of jewelry. However, the principles discussed here apply to almost any custom, handmade item.

First, we’ll learn how to find the ideal artist to collaborate with. Then I’ll give you some pointers on establishing proper communication between you and the jewelry designer to ensure that both parties are satisfied with working together on custom handmade jewelry.

Right Artist for Custom Handmade Jewelry

This should be pretty straightforward, though the final decision on whether or not to work with the artist should be made after your initial contact with them. You’ve probably found a good match for your ideal custom handmade jewelry designer if you like their work, they’re willing to do customization, and they’re straightforward to communicate with.

Check out their “about” and “policies” pages before contacting them to see if they have any information about accepting custom work (and to see if they seem like the type of person you’d be comfortable working with!) Examine as many of their websites as you can find, look for customer testimonials, and watch for their attention to detail to get a complete picture of their responsibility and whether you’d be comfortable working with them. When deciding, consider the specifics of their work (for example, do they only use natural stones? Then they might not be willing to order dichroic glass beads for your piece, or they might charge you a lot more.) Be aware that if you want a material included in your custom piece of jewelry that they must particular order and that they will not be able to use in the rest of their work, you may have to pay for an entire strand of beads, even if only a few will be used in your piece of custom jewelry. But if you ask them about the options, they’ll tell you what they’re comfortable with. Determine how much leeway you will give the artist in creating your custom piece ahead of time. I had one customer who chose the exact stone they wanted me to use in a pendant necklace and told me how long it should take, and another who only said she wanted a chain to go with her red turtleneck. Both were completely satisfied with their finished chains because they went into the customization process knowing how much control they wanted. Now is the time to contact your Jewelry Artist and begin the customization process:

Custom-Made Jewelry – Effective Communication

What you should tell the handmade jewelry artist in your first contact so they can best assist you.

* Tell the artist what you like about their work (is it the colors, the style, which pieces appeal to you, is there a specific piece you like but would like in a different size or color, or do you need a different clasp?)

* Tell the artist about the issue you’re having that they can help you with (are you allergic to base metal ear wires, do you have trouble with a specific type of clasp, do you need the perfect necklace to go with your red turtleneck? are specific colors unflattering on your skin tone?)

* Understand that the jewelry artist may request partial or complete payment in advance (this standard precaution will help them buy the supplies for your custom piece and protects the artist from insincere requests). If someone commissions them to create a custom piece and then abruptly backs out, the artist has wasted a lot of time and money creating something they may not be able to sell to anyone else. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you could ask to pay half up front and the rest at the end, or at least whether the artist will refund your money if you’re unsatisfied with the finished piece.)

If the artist does not communicate back to you, ask them!

* Whether or not they accept custom orders (if not, you’ll have to look elsewhere).

* Your options and the associated costs (for example, if they write back with a suggestion of how something could be made and what materials they might use, they should include pricing information). Some artists charge more for customization services, and some materials are more expensive. If they need to custom order a stone they don’t keep in stock, they may need to pay the extra shipping charges, which means you will also.)

* If possible, they should provide photos. (If they give you some options, they should include pictures of the beads they’re discussing or jewelry similar to what they’re attempting to explain. Ideally, they’ll also send you a photo of your finished jewelry before shipping it to you to ensure you get what you expect. If you want this service, ask; any severe and professional jewelry designer will not be offended.)

* They should tell you how much time each step takes (A truly conscientious jewelry designer will tell you how long it will be before you hear from them again). If they say they’ll look into what materials are available from their supplier, they should also let you know whether they’ll get back to you in a few days or weeks so you’re not left hanging. If you feel like you’ve been left hanging, don’t worry; send them a quick note asking when you can expect to hear from them again. Similarly, don’t abandon your designer. It’s OK if they write to you and request payment, but you can’t pay until your paycheck is deposited! However, send them a note to inform them when you’ll send the price. They’ll be understanding, and it’ll be much easier for them to know you’ll pay in a week or so rather than wondering if you’ll ever write back.)

I hope these tips make your first custom jewelry shopping experience more enjoyable and straightforward. It’s not so frightening; jewelry designers are regular people like you! Really. (Insert devious grin and hand rubbing here) The Handmade Revolution connects people to the artisans who make jewelry, clothes, and greeting cards in the same way Community Supported Agriculture connects people to their food and farmers. We form a dynamic, positive engine of social change when we work together! Yay!!

Genuine Arts’ Jenny C. Hoople invites you to browse more Authentic Living articles on her blog. She writes about homesteading, organic and biodynamic agriculture, mind and body wellness, authentic Mexican recipes, book reviews on all of the above, and news about her handcrafted jewelry company, Authentic Arts.

Jenny C. Hoople owns the copyright. Worldwide Rights Reserved.

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