Will it be an endless love?
As you develop a bridal collection, you may face a common conundrum and be torn between your own esthetic and that of the bridal world. Do your designs break the mould or stay within classic conventions?
Whatever your answer, you have to keep in mind the longevity of this ring.
After you’ve travelled down the bridal path, reflect on whether or not you can expand your collection. Will you be able to create new designs with a similar essence or is that awesome ring a one-hit wonder? Have you thought about wedding bands and creating matching designs for the groom? What about hers and hers, or his and his? Ultimately, as a designer you need to determine how lucrative this venture will be for your business or if it is overly ambitious.
Thriving on the business of love
Couples will come to you armed with questions because a custom ring design is a big investment for them, not just monetarily, but emotionally, too. Remember, this venture is not solely creative, but a business transaction, as well.
It’s important to know the cost of all your materials, and the approximate weights in all metals of all sizes. By making charts to refer to with itemized costs and profit margins before you quote a price, you can save yourself
a lot of hassle this way as miscalculations do happen.
Product knowledge is one way you can help ease your clients’ minds. In being fully versed in the materials you are using—stones, metals, and alternative mediums—you can be prepared for any questions or concerns they may have.
Finally, having clearly written terms of payment, return policies, contractual agreements, and warranties printed out for clients eliminates confusion, and keeps both you and your customers accountable.
Surround yourself with the best team
I don’t work in a bubble: I rely on seasoned experts to help me create rings I’m proud to present to my clients. Here’s my recipe for a winning design team:
- Reputable diamond and gem dealers who I personally know and trust.
- CAD designer: about 80 per cent of my bridal pieces are designed on CAD. Designers must understand my esthetic and know the various constraints of fabrication, so the piece can be finished to perfection. Some CAD designers don’t have bench experience, and may thus overlook some important fabrication details.
- Stone-setter: I would love to take a year off and do an intensive stone-setting course, but that just isn’t in the cards. So, I work with a few amazing micro-setters—sometimes before I start the work to make sure I have factored in all considerations. Plus, I like working with setters who have a clean bench and organized orders. This allows me to feel confident other clients’ stones aren’t getting mixed in with mine!
- Master jewellers, colleagues and teachers who I can turn to for advice because this is an industry where you never stop learning.
The power of love
Whatever your reasons for designing bridal—for the love of design, for the emotional rush of knowing you created something that’s meant to last forever, or for profitability—you always have to keep in mind the importance of the ring in a couple’s life while staying true to the passion that drives you to create.
Kate Hubley is owner of Montreal design house, K8 Jewelry Concepts Bijoux. She is also a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (FGA) and a 2015 Saul Bell Award recipient. Hubley can be reached at email@example.com.