If you’ve been dreaming of the perfect piece, but everything you’ve seen just doesn’t quite make your heart race, consider having your jewelry custom designed! Pearls International can take your wildest ideas from dream to reality in just a few short steps. Email or call us at 386.767.3473 to find out more!
I got married last October. When my husband-to-be, Josh, popped the question, to say he was feeling nervous about the ring was a bit of an understatement. When you’ve got a dad in the jewelry business and you’ve grown up looking at gorgeous jewels your whole life, it really puts a lot of pressure on the lucky guy who steals your heart (Dad, if you’re reading this, you know you’ll always be my first love!).
I really can’t even imagine what might have been going through my poor guy’s head when he started considering the options, but Josh is acutely aware of how discerning (picky), tasteful (picky), and stylish (picky) I like to be when it comes to my jewelry. My friends will tell you about many times they have come to my house to find me lounging around wearing my pajamas, fuzzy socks, uncombed hair…and every piece of jewelry I own.
Josh is a very logical person. He’s the kind of person that researches small decisions for weeks before making the most logical choice. Getting married was one of the biggest decisions of his life, and he didn’t want to blow it. Josh made the logical choice. He decided to use a Stunt Ring.
If you’ve never heard of it, a Stunt Ring is a time honored tradition for guys who have the good fortune (misfortune?) of falling in love with picky ladies. It’s used as a stand-in for the proposal so that the guy still has the opportunity to give his sweetie the surprise of her life. Usually, it’s a very simple temporary band and setting that can be exchanged later for a piece that is sized to her finger and suited to her needs. It’s the perfect way to surprise her, while still ensuring she gets the setting she loves. Remember, this ring will be on her finger for the rest of her life, so it needs to be just right. Plus, you never want to wonder if she’d rather have something different. After it has served its purpose, the stunt ring can be returned or made into another piece of everyday jewelry.
Little did he know, I’m so crazy about him I probably would have said yes to a ring made of a gum wrapper, but I got the best guy on the planet, and he really spoils me. After I stopped jumping up and down and calling all of my friends to relay the good news, I embarked on a journey of creativity. Like a lot of women, I had a specific idea of the kinds of jewelry that suited my tastes, flattered my style, and looked good with my everyday outfits. I began to collect photos of rings I liked, with the goal of merging all of the styles I liked into one finished piece. My burgeoning Pinterest inspiration board at one point had over 250 photos before I began to focus my ideas into something more coherent.
The custom design process is an amazing blend of traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. After roughing out a design on paper, we transfer the concept to a digital format. Using a program like Photoshop, we take all of the photos, sketches, and ideas, and begin to create a ring that looks a bit like Frankenstein’s monster. At this point in the custom design process, a lot of people want to run screaming for the hills. A little perseverance pays off though!
Once your idea has been fleshed out to this point, the next step is to take the drawings into a computer aided drafting software. We use a software called Matrix. Matrix gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to design. Just take a look at the way this ring came to life in 3D!
What’s great about digital design is that you can see EXACTLY what the final ring will look like, no question. The photos to the left show the final digital models of my ring, and except for the prongs around the crown, which smooth out slightly when the stones are set, the ring on my finger is absolutely identical to these photos.
At this point in the design process, we have a really good idea of the dimensions of the final ring, so we can begin planning out what kind of stones we will need (of course using a digital process also allows us to create a piece especially for a stone of a certain size).
The accent stones on this ring are diamond, while the stones at the crown are topaz, a stone that I have always loved because of its vintage, watery look. My dad is a fourth generation stonecutter, so he began by selecting just the right rough stones from his extensive collection. Each stone was carefully checked for color and clarity. He then hand cut and polished each stone so that they would perfectly complement the setting. While it isn’t visible in the photos, he even made the top facet, or table, of the center stone the same shape as the crown of the ring. It’s amazing how much thought goes in to such a small thing, but around here, we really focus on the details so that everything comes out just right.
Meanwhile, the digital version of the ring was being converted into a wax model. The process for this is truly a marvel of modern technology, as the wax models are actually made by a state-of-the-art high definition 3D printer. This is the best way to ensure that all of the small details appear in the final setting. The delicate model is carefully checked against the digital version for any discrepancies that could cause problems in the final copy.
Once they are cleared for production, the wax models are encased in plaster, which is vacuumed to remove any air bubbles, and then allowed to harden to create a plaster mold. The plaster is subjected to high heat in order to melt and burn the wax out of the mold. Once the wax is gone, it leaves a perfect impression where the wax ring once was. We then inject molten silver into this void to create a ‘dummy setting’ that can be tried on and checked for sizing.
When we are sure that the size of the ring is correct and we are completely happy with the shapes, forms, stones, and everything else, we will print an identical wax model and go through the same process, this time with the final metal (in this case 14k yellow gold). Here’s a photo of the wax model, the Sterling silver ‘dummy’, and the final ring, side by side:
Once the final setting has been created, we can carefully set the finished stones by hand and polish the ring to a high shine. This blend of traditional skill with modern techniques results in some of the most spectacular designs I’ve ever seen.
This was the moment I had been waiting for, and it was absolutely worth the wait! Josh gave me my new ring on Valentine’s Day (they didn’t let me see it ahead of time, so it was a big surprise!) and we are both absolutely thrilled with it! I love that it has such a wonderful heritage of being so lovingly made by my dad, and Josh loves that I’m so happy with it. He’s also really pleased to have a piece of jewelry that we can one day pass down to our future children, along with the story of how it was made by their grandfather. What a great thing!
This process may look pretty complicated, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Do you have an idea you’d love to bring to life? Come talk to us about it! We can reimagine your old jewelry, take a loose stone and make it into a useful piece of jewelry, or even make something unique from scratch! Your imagination is the limit, and there’s no end to the possibilities. Talk to a Pearl Girl about your custom creation today!