Commissioning A Piece of Jewellery Online
There's a special occasion in the offing, a birthday, an anniversary, a new baby, an engagement, First Communion, Valentines Day, Christmas the list is almost endless! You think that it would be lovely to give a really special personal gift, something totally unique but that would be really expensive wouldn't it? Well, probably not as expensive as you think. Using silver or semi precious beads a realistic budget could start as low as £30, for example a simple birthstone bracelet, a pair of anniversary earrings or a birthstone ring would all be in that sort of region. For heavier silver items that need hallmarking (large pendants, upper arm bracelets, heavy necklaces) you may be looking at nearer the £200 mark but certainly something made just for you or a loved one won't break the bank. The internet now allows you online access to jewellery makers all over the world!
Where do I start?
Firstly do some internet searches for jewellery designers working in your locality or country (these days thanks to the internet many design commissions can be done completely by e-mail). Have a look at their designs - do you like their work? You can e-mail me here if you like my work!
See what they say about commissions, how do they normally do their design work? Check out the prices for items on their website or in their gallery. Most designers will charge a little extra on top of their normal prices because of the extra work involved in making a commission, as a rough guide an extra 20-30% is reasonable because of the one to one, bespoke service you are getting.
Draw up a list of two or three designers whose work you like
Contact them and give them a rough idea of the sort of item/occasion you want to have your special jewellery made for. Designers are used to both people who know exactly what they want and those who only have a very vague idea, so don't worry if you need guidance. Most designers love talking to clients and helping them create something really special. At this point you will probably have a gut feeling as to the designer you would most like to use and you can ask them for a "ball park" figure for the type of design you want. You will also need to give the designer some idea about time frame for delivery. We can all work fast if we have to (last week I took a pair of anniversary earrings from design to delivery between Friday and Tuesday of the next week and that included ordering some special stock in!) but it's better for all concerned to have a bit more time. Please also keep in mind that most jewellery designers busiest period is in the run up to Christmas and they will probably have multiple custom orders to juggle, so give them a minimum of twelve weeks notice at this time of year. Sometimes it will just not be possible to make something in the time frame given and the designer will tell you if that is the case.
Get a design and proper quote
Most designers will have several ideas to show you and will be able to roughly cost the work for you at this stage. Once you have decided on your final design you will be given a proper costing. Don't forget to add in P&P to that if you aren't collecting it (commissioned jewellery will need to be sent Special Delivery roughly £7 in the UK). Designers will vary as to whether they charge a deposit at this stage or not. In the case of very expensive items that they need to buy in like diamonds/gold they will probably be more likely to ask for a big deposit. I personally tend not to ask for a deposit because I want the person to be happy with what I have made for them before they pay anything, I also tend to think if it is a good piece of jewellery (which it hopefully is!) it would be saleable to someone else anyway. The only occasion where I might ask for a deposit is if the item I am being asked for is the sort of thing that I wouldn't normally sell! (Use your own imagination here!).
Sit back and wait
The designer should keep you informed about how the creative process is progressing, this includes things like unforeseen supply problems etc that might affect the expected finishing date. Sometimes, for example, items sent for hallmarking can take longer than expected (a couple of weeks is not unknown!).
Once your item is finished they will either make and appointment to show you the final item or e-mail you a photograph of it. When you are happy with the item the designer will expect full payment before delivery.
One final thing!
Do let the designer know if you have any problems with your item - as things are one offs there may be particular design/construction issues that only come to light when the item is worn, the maker will want you to be happy and to wear the item they have made as that's a great advert for their work.
Also please remember if you are happy with your jewellery and get lots of compliments let the designer know. When you make something you do get an emotional attachment to it and it's really good to know it's loved and admired!