Making Dreams Real: Commissions
One of the most enjoyable things I do is working with people to make their dreams reality- whether by making a piece of jewelry they've seen only in their imaginations, or in teaching them to make such a piece themselves.
Just as it's said that in every life there is a novel, it's true that in every heart there is a distinctive vision. I love participating in bringing such dreams to life. Commission work is a delight for me; the challenge of working toward a vision that was not originally mine always involves new and interesting approaches.
I will work with you to either design such a piece, or to implement your own design as a beautiful and wearable piece of jewelry. I am happy to work with you over the Internet and via email, and have done so many times with great success. I will keep you informed about the progress of your piece, including periodic photographs of its progress. If any difficulties arise, we will work together to find a solution that is both practical and satisfactory.
Since every dream is different, I cannot discuss costs without more details of your vision. Please email me, and we can start to discuss what you're wanting!
How it generally works: You email me with an idea for a piece of jewelry, or a wedding set, or whatever you need. We'll discuss this via email until we come up with both a design and a way of approaching it that we both love. At that point, I'll make an estimate- I can't really do it before that, because things like the choices of metals, and gems, and the design itself have a lot of impact on the cost! I am, though, very happy to work with you to come up with a design you like at a price you can afford.
The estimate often has a range, since metal and stone prices can change a lot from day to day, and I can't know precisely what things will cost until I've got them. This range is usually around 10% plus or minus, and I do my best to keep the actual price as close as I can to the estimate.
Once we're agreed on the details, I ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit for the work. This covers the costs of the materials, often including visiting gemstone vendors and hand-picking your stones, getting your choice of metal milled to meet the needs of your design, and other basic design and implementation costs.
Once I have the deposit, I begin work on your piece. I do my best to keep you informed on the progress, usually including some photos of it in its various stages (and please keep in mind that everything goes through an "ugly" phase before it is done and polished and pretty!).
When it's done, I'll send you a picture of it finished. At that point I ask for the remaining money, plus the shipping costs. I prefer to send things within the US via registered mail, which costs $17.50US but which can take 1-2 weeks- it's definitely the safest method!
(It's important for the safety of us both that your piece be sent via a method that requires a signature for delivery. This ensures that the carrier does not just dump it someplace obscure, where it could be overlooked or stolen, as well as helping to prevent fraud using your financial information. I cannot send a commissioned piece to just any address, unless it's paid for via money order or similar. This makes sure both of us get what we want out of our transaction. Unfortunately, FedEx does not have a reliable track record of getting deliveries signature-confirmed, even when that is specified, and so I cannot necessarily send something via FedEx unless it's paid by check or money order.)
Then I send it, and give you the tracking number if it's via FedEx, and you get it!
In general, I ask for 8-10 weeks to make your piece, especially if it includes stones; I really prefer to hand-pick gemstones myself rather than relying on mail-order, and that means I need to make a trip. It can also take some time to have metals milled to the specifications of your piece. Sometimes specific designs can have a faster turn-around, though, so if that's an issue please let me know and we can probably work something out.
Prices are based mostly on the cost of the materials (mostly metal and the gemstones), and on the labor involved. Since both of these vary so much for each individual commission, I can't provide a simple price sheet.
In general: silver costs less than gold; simple costs less than complicated; and a variation on one of my current designs costs less than something entirely new.
I usually work FIFO: first in, first out. This means that I prioritize earlier commissions over later ones as I work on them. Now, this does not mean I complete Commission 5 before beginning Commission 6; usually in each commission there are times when things are progressing without my active involvement, such as annealing and pickling, and I work on other pieces during those times.
Your commission will be added to the queue when I get your deposit.
Sometimes, under some circumstances, I can fit in a rush job if there's an emergency deadline; this will incur a surcharge when it's possible. Please let me know if you have a tight deadline, and I may or may not be able to meet it depending on the nature of the commission and on my schedule.
In general, it will take at least 6 weeks from the deposit to completion, and it may be more if stones are involved, since sourcing and choosing them takes extra time.
Please read the information on metal choices here to help you make a good decision on the metal for your rings.
I do good work, and no piece leaves my studio without being checked multiple times for sturdiness and appropriateness for normal wear. If you have a problem, I will work with you to resolve it. However, fine jewelry will not necessarily hold up to extraordinary wear or abuse, and while I will repair such, it will require a fee.
I make my commission pieces in good faith, and in good faith do what I can to make the commissioners happy.
However: custom jewelry cannot by its nature have a no-questions-asked, money back guarantee, and I do not offer such. These are individually made pieces, created with you to meet your specific desires, and so cannot generally be re-sold. If you are uncomfortable commissioning a piece on this basis, I encourage you to find a local artisan who offers a guarantee with which you feel more comfortable.