Evolution of a Custom Design

Do you ever look in your jewelry box and think “I really love that stone, but the setting is so <fill in decade or name of person the piece was inherited from here> !”  In other words, do you hold on to a particular piece of jewelry for a variety of reasons, but it languishes unworn in a dark drawer because it isn’t really you?

One of the most common requests we get here at Zaffiro is to re-imagine and re-invent Great Aunt Millie’s brooch to fit with your personal style today.  How does it work?  What is the process?  It all starts with a brainstorming meeting.

What kind of piece do you want?  A pendant.  Great, let’s look through our Archive of pendants and you let me know what pieces or parts of pieces that you like.  And off we go from there.  I take notes, we talk about your vision for the piece, how you want to wear it, is it a formal or everyday piece, what should the overall size be, etc…and all of a sudden a concept starts to emerge. (This is a magical moment!)  This might be one conversation or several, but the outlines of the piece are there. Now it is time for me to create a series of sketches interpreting ideas into something concrete.

I start by photographing the stone in its original setting:

I then sketch several variations of the design, incorporating options that are still undecided.  In the example I am using, you can see we have a fairly concrete design concept: a Tuscan Garden style pendant featuring tendril-like filigree wires and granulation in a floral pattern.  The variations are adding an accent stone, stone placement (centered or slightly higher than center), and overall shape (oval or a soft navette).  I scan the sketches and in Photoshop I add color and drop in the stone from the photograph:

Sometimes, even after you’ve selected a final design, there might be some elements that are easier to envision with the piece in progress.  That was the case in my example with the decorative exterior granules surrounding the pendant.  First, here’s a view of the pendant without any exterior granules:

Next, a variety of arrangements:

And finally…the result of a rewarding and collaborative custom design process: the finished Tuscan Garden pendant set with the gorgeous white opal: