By Tom Weishaar
Editor’s Note: This is the second instalment in a six-part series on creating custom jewellery. Over the course of the year, we’ll share the processes the author’s store went through to develop custom sales. We’ll also show you the methods used to create six custom pieces.
Halos and micro-pavé have both been on the fashion charts for several years now and remain hot sellers for most jewellers. For the past two years, though, I’ve noticed raw diamond designs skyrocket in popularity. For me, these little opaque twinklers have been selling as fast as I can set them. As a custom jeweller, I try hard to keep pace with the current fashion trends. If I want to sell my work, I have to show a good selection of custom pieces in our display cases reflecting today’s hot fashions. Keeping up with fashion trends can be a quirky fast-paced proposition and nothing has been stranger than the current fascination with raw diamonds. Let’s take a look at this phenomenon.
In the diamond industry, a cutter trains by practicing his or her skills on opaque industrial diamonds. Once they’ve achieved the necessary level of expertise, they move on to better-quality diamonds. These practice stones, however, are typically recycled and made into abrasives. This tended to be their fate until someone came up with the idea of setting them into fashion jewellery. And voila—people started paying big bucks for these one-time cast-offs. Who would have thought this would be the case? In the past two years, my shop has created and sold more than 75 custom-made raw diamond pieces with a retail value of approximately $350,000.
Here’s another example of why it pays to keep up with fashion trends. Twelve years ago, designer jewellery with heavy engraving became very popular. At our store, we carried three different lines featuring various engraved patterns. We sold many of these pieces right out of the case, but not every customer wanted exactly what we had on display—many wanted the engraved look, but with their own design variations. Submitting special requests to a manufacturer is often problematic and sometimes impossible. However, we were getting so many requests for custom-engraved designs that I learned to hand engrave. Over the next five years, we produced more than 200 pieces. That’s over $1 million in hand-engraved custom jewellery. What’s the bottom line? It pays to keep up with trends and being able to incorporate them into custom pieces.