Date, find a ring, get engaged, get married and live happily ever after. These tasks often appear to be a simple to-do list, but what many people don’t take into account is the actual effort, time and skill that goes into each ring.
Picking out a ring can be a hard task with so many elements to consider: diamond cut, type of metal, gem size, stone setting, and the list goes on. When someone isn’t satisfied with options provided at jewelry retailers, there is an option to custom design the ideal ring.
Gold-smithing is an intensive trade that has been around for centuries. However, the art has recently evolved with advances in technology, making custom jewelry a reasonable option for more people.
Former BYU student Jenni Whitlock decided to go with this approach when it came time to picking out a ring.
“I saw things that I really loved in the stores, but none of them were perfect,” Whitlock said. “For me, my ring needed to be just as functional as it was beautiful. I was set on having a euro-shank, which is not very common here, so my husband and I decided to have a ring custom designed that included all of the ideal functions and design elements that I wanted.”
When it came down to it, Chase Green decided to custom design a ring to surprise to his wife.
“I thought there was something more sentimental about it,” Green said. “It seemed more personal, and plus, I would have lifetime bragging rights to the fact that I designed it. Also, my wife is a romantic, so I knew she would love the idea that I designed it with her in mind.”
Kevin Reid has been in the goldsmith industry for more than 32 years and has been impressed with the advances the industry has made, especially with incorporating the latest technology.
“I started the trade before my mission, mainly focusing on minor jewelry repairs,” Reid said. “When I returned home from my mission, I picked up the art again and used it as a means to put myself through school. Then I ended up making a career out of it.”
Goldsmiths need to be detail-oriented on various levels to balance different aspects of the design process.
“It’s a long and tedious process from start to finish,” Reid said. “In general there are two types of customers. Sometimes I will get someone with a picture of a ring they like from a jewelry store, magazine or Pinterest. Sometimes they want minor changes like a different metal or an alternate stone. I can create something similar, but I don’t like to copy rings because designers spend a lot of time on them and I respect that.”
The second type of customers that approach Reid are those who know what they don’t like and try to create something from there.
“These are usually the girls that come to me saying, ‘I want something different,'” Reid said. “It is then that we start generating lists of likes and dislikes and then start drawing. Designing a ring practically from scratch takes a lot of latitude and trust in the goldsmith.”
Not only do they need to create a ring that the customer is pleased with, but goldsmiths also have to take into consideration the actual cost to produce the ring.
“You wouldn’t think so, but cost plays a huge role in the design process,” Reid said. “I can create any girl’s dream ring, but it will just cost them 10 to 15 thousand dollars. There have been times when the client and I have almost finalized a design and they realize that it is far out of their budget. When that happens we have to start over again from scratch.”
Over the past few years, the techniques of the trade have changed from filing and making wax molds into a more advanced technique that relies on a certain level of technological ability and skill.
“I decided that I have reached that point where I need to put my tools down and pick up the modern tricks of the trade,” Reid said. “Of course there are some projects that require techniques that can only be accomplished with tedious handwork, but in general, it’s important to stay up with technology and not get left behind.”