The Courage of Bespoke

The thrill of having a custom-made piece of jewelry is often tempered by the anxiety of not knowing what you are going to get in the end. Few of us have enough imagination, vision and knowledge to really envisage in detail what the final bauble will look like.

We do the dance of “but what if I don’t like it?” To give you the courage to take the leap, I’m going to share a few tips with you.

Pick a Jewelry Artist Whose Work you Like and Matches your Style

Don’t go to a modern minimalist jeweller if you love colorful stones and whimsical designs!

Make Sure you Connect with the Artist

If you want the piece to be infused with some emotion and tell your story, you are going to have to bare (some) of your soul and share some private thoughts with the artist. Otherwise, how will she know what to make for you? You need an emotional connection.

It’s a bit like standing in your underwear in front of your seamstress: she needs to see your love handles to drape them properly.

So, have the courage to make yourself slightly vulnerable, and reap the reward of a life-long love story with your jewelry.

Create the Mood

You can create a mood board in Pinterest on which to save photos of pieces, places, people, colors, textures, food etc… anything that will help you express your vision to the artist. The Pinterest app is very easy to use from any screen, and you can keep the board private or share it with whoever you want.


See How it Starts

Ask the artist to create a drawing of the piece — a hand drawing is a beautiful memento to keep afterwards. Even better if it is a gouache — the haute joaillerie designers are phenomenal at it.


A lot of artists will do a CAD drawing (Computer Assisted Drawing) that will be used to produce a model. CAD models can be printed in resin and cast to create full pieces or small parts.

Jewelry Words to Know

The world of jewelry has some delicious words that will make you sound like a pro.
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is how you describe a gemstone with a brilliant luster like that of a diamond.



is a teardrop shaped faceted gemstone or glass bead.



is a carving where a design is cut or carved into stone, so that the carving is below the surface of the material. A cameo is the opposite.

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is an enameling technique in which transparent enamel is fired in cloisonné, so that light will show through. It’s the stained glass window of jewelry.

I would love to see photos of jewelry you have commissioned or inherited and read the story of the piece. I find it so fascinating how emotions can be interpreted in jewelry.

Photos courtesy of Seamann Schepps, Van Cleef & Arpels, Sotheby’s, Grainne Morton.