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Custom jewelry is jewelry which has been designed for a specific person, rather than being produced for general sale. It is typically hand crafted by a metalsmith or artisan who consults with the client on several occasions to ensure that the piece meets the client's expectations and needs. Many jewelers are happy to take commissions for custom jewelry, and those who do not can generally refer clients to metalsmiths and jewelers who do handle commissions and special requests.
Any sort of jewelry can be ordered as a commission, but one of the most common types is wedding jewelry. Engagement and wedding rings may be made on commission as a symbol of love and partnership, and to ensure that spouses have wedding jewelry which is truly unique. The use of customized wedding jewelry also allows couples to express themselves distinctively with their jewelry, including symbols, shapes, and inscriptions which may be important to them.
Custom jewelry may also be commissioned for major occasions as a gift. A husband might present a wife with hand made earrings or necklaces upon the birth of a child, for example, or parents might present a graduating child with a piece of custom jewelry. This jewelry is also commissioned for films, debutante balls, and numerous other occasions.
Buying custom jewelry is an involved process, because it requires the establishment of a relationship between the buyer and the jeweler. Buyers usually look through the portfolios of several jewelers to find one with a style and aesthetic which will meet their needs. Upon finding a jeweler, the buyer can meet with him or her to discuss jewelry options, including the type of piece, the metals and gems which will be used, and the general look and feel which will be desired. The jeweler usually makes some preliminary sketches at this meeting, and refines them into more formal designs for approval by the buyer.
It can take several weeks or months for a jeweler to finish a custom piece, since he or she may need to hand-fabricate certain aspects of the jewelry. Custom jewelry also tends to be more expensive than other types of jewelry, but it is usually heirloom quality, and it may be treasured and passed down for generations.
Some things to think about when choosing a jeweler beyond basic aesthetics include his or her approach to jewelery-making, and the types of materials and tools used. Some jewelers, for example, are committed to the use of ethically sourced materials, and they avoid the use of toxins in soldering and fabrication. Many skilled jewelers like to meet their clients in person to get a feel for them, and they may want to meet several times in the course of designing a piece to ensure that the piece turns out precisely as desired.