I don’t do sketches of all the designs that I create for my collection. Sometimes I skip the sketch and go directly to the wax model. Other times, I do a very rough sketch to convey a concept. When I was working on my Cleves swan ring, I scribbled something that looked like two deformed ducks kissing in order to show the desired position of the swans’ necks. All of the beautification work was done in wax.
I don’t do sketches for all custom work, either. When gorgeous blogger Jill of Stella’s Roar asked me to create a pair of mud flap girl cufflinks with ruby nipples, I didn’t give her a picture. I just made the cufflinks. We both knew what the mud flap girl looked like, so why re-draw her?
There are other cases where I won’t provide a drawing. If a gorgeous client asks me for a diamond solitaire in a four-prong setting on a 2 millimeter shank, I’m not going to spend billable time drawing it. You can draw that yourself … or look at one of the eleventy billion pictures of similar rings that exist online. If those don’t help you get a handle on what you’re asking for, I doubt a drawing is going to enlighten you either.
Of course, certain jobs call for some kind of illustration. When gorgeous blogger Susan of Une Femme d’un Certain Age asked for a customized version of my Siobhan perma-stacked stacking ring, I gave her a drawing. Even though she knew the ring’s style, we were going to have to make changes to accommodate the stones she wanted to use, so I wanted her to understand how it would look.
The sketch for Susan didn’t amount to a black-and-white technical drawing or a color rendering. I save those for original and complex pieces. Such images require serious effort because they’re not just about how the jewelry will look — they’re about how the jewelry will be made. I’ve seen many jewelers and artists create stunning 3D, full-color renderings of jewelry that can’t be made as drawn/painted/created on a computer. Just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean the metal and gems will oblige! The laws of physics come into play, as do economics. Not long ago, I asked a jewelry artist with expertise in a certain type of design for a rendering of a pair of earrings, and he came back with a pencil drawing that I wanted to frame and hang on my wall. That would have been the best use of that drawing, because it was so elaborate that it would be ridiculous to try to recreate it in metal. If I did half as much detail in metal, people would look at the earings in awe and say, “This is the most detailed thing I’ve ever seen!” Now I have to waste time sitting with the maker of the wax model, pointing at different features on the drawing and saying, “Leave that out. Simplify that. Pretend you never saw that. No, I don’t know what he was thinking either.” Oh, and the model maker is charging me an hourly rate, so all of this comes out of my pocket.
Customers who request an original, elaborate and expensive piece from me are welcome to request a rendering before we move ahead. (Sometimes I insist on providing one for their approval.) But there are rules:
- I take enough time to ensure that the design is one that can be done in metal, not just on paper. Rough sketches don’t work in these situations.
- The design doesn’t leave my hand unless you’ve made a down payment on the finished jewelry or a separate payment for the design. (The latter would be applied to the cost of the finished jewelry, should we move ahead.) That means that if you haven’t paid anything, we’ll get together and I will show you the drawing in person, but you won’t get a scan, a Xerox, or an email. You won’t get to take an iPhone photo to show your significant other. You won’t even get to walk out of my field of vision with the design in your hand.
Does that sound tough? Well, I had to toughen up after spending lots of time and money on superior renderings only to find out that the would-be clients weren’t that serious about doing the custom piece in the first place. They just thought it would be fun to see what the possibilities were. It’s like window-shopping that costs the shopkeeper money. Even worse is the customer who takes my design to another jeweler. Withholding a drawing doesn’t always prevent that. I’m still mystified by the former client who bought a pair of earrings from me, then merrily told me, “I love my earrings so much that I took them to ‘my’ jeweler and had him make me a necklace to match!” So she gave him my design, deprived me of a sale, and added insult to injury by telling me the whole story! I bet he charged her more than I would have because he had to create the design from scratch while I already had a mold ready to go. Her loss.
Anyway, those are your three options if you’re doing custom work with me:
- Least expensive: No sketch.
- More expensive: Rough sketch.
- Most expensive: Technical drawing/full-color rendering.
Think you’re ready to discuss a custom piece?
- First read this, which gives you more background on the creation of a custom piece.
- Browse my custom gallery so you get an idea of the amazing quality of my work.
- Then click this link and bring it, while Will Smith provides a delightful musical background.