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Selling Outside the Box
September 24th, 2020

Calla Gold on operating without a storefront Calla GoldCalla Gold JewelrySanta Barbara, California In this occasional column, we speak with custom jewelers operating without a storefront, exploring the different ways they run their business, the challenges they’ve faced, and how they deal with finding and marketing to new clients. Tell us about your studio.I came […]

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Podcast: Selling the Art of Custom
September 24th, 2020

August 10, 2019Guest: Llyn StrongLlyn Strong Fine Art Jewelry Jewelry artist and gallery owner Llyn Strong made her first piece of jewelry in 1972, igniting a passion that developed into a now 40-year career. During that time she’s built a reputation as an innovative, successful, and sought-after custom jewelry maker and business owner. With multiple design awards under […]

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An Uncustomary Request
September 24th, 2020

Creative freedom and some unusual pearls helped create Brenda Smith’s award-winning necklace By John Shanahan Let’s say you are given 27 of the largest freshwater, cultured, round pearls in the world, and told that you can make anything you want with them as long as it’s a necklace. Other than that, what you do with […]

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Fresh Heir
September 24th, 2020

Transparency and communication are key when transforming heirloom jewelry By Irina Missiuro A custom jeweler’s goal and the means of achieving it are similar to those of a psychologist’s: Both aim to get to the bottom of a client’s desires via subtle questioning. And that’s especially true when repurposing an heirloom. The memories in such […]

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I Wish I Knew Then
September 24th, 2020

Custom jeweler Takayas Mizuno reflects on lessons in business and life EDITOR’S NOTE: In this occasional column, we’re asking experienced custom designers and makers to share a few of the things they wished they’d known when they were getting started. Takayas Mizuno, owner of Takayas Custom Jewelry in Los Angeles, talks about well-trained sales staff, […]

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Social Media How-To
September 24th, 2020

Platforms and tactics for custom jewelers By Irina Missiuro If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on great opportunities to familiarize potential clients with your business, share a successful heirloom redesign with your fans, learn patrons’ opinions and preferences, and bring new customers to your store. To find out what networks make the […]

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I Wish I Knew Then
September 24th, 2020

Custom jeweler Alex Gulko reflects on lessons in business and life EDITOR’S NOTE: In this occasional column, we’re asking experienced custom designers and makers to share a few of the things they wished they’d known when they were getting started. Alex Gulko, owner of Alex Gulko Custom Jewelry in Ann Arbor, Michigan, talks about finding […]

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Inspiration Found: In an Atmosphere of Quiet
September 24th, 2020

By Irina Missiuro Victor HararukVictor Hararuk Jewelry Designs, Kiev, UkraineCustom Design Distinction The ring that won the Custom Design Distinction in the 2018 MJSA Vision Awards conveys just that—an atmosphere of tranquility and peace. But, as we know all too well, the road to greatness is paved with grit. In this case, victory entailed some […]

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It’s a Stretch
September 24th, 2020

How one custom jeweler stretched his skills—and a customer’s ring—to achieve a perfect fit By Lee Krombholz  Sometimes in business, the fates align. A few months ago, I noticed an uptick in interest in “stretchy” jewelry—pieces made with springs that allow them to stretch but then retract to their original shapes—and I was thinking about […]

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At What Price?
September 24th, 2020

Joel McFadden breaks down a custom piece, fee by fee This is one column in an occasional series focusing on how custom designers price their work to ensure they remain competitive, cover all costs, and (of course) make a profit. Here’s how the staff at Art of Jewelry by Joel McFadden arrived at the final […]

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On a Roll
September 24th, 2020

David Holloway turns a random comment into an everlasting heirloom Editor’s Note: Every custom jewelry designer has a memorable design or two in their portfolio, projects where opportunity, inspiration, and craft combine to create something that stands the test of time. In this profile, David Holloway shows how important listening is when discussing details with […]

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On Deposit
September 23rd, 2020

How should custom jewelers charge for their design time? By Rich Youmans Ask any custom jeweler when he or she should charge for design work, and the answer will probably be, “As soon as possible!” After all, they need to protect themselves from spending valuable time on a design, only to have a client change […]

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At What Price?
July 24th, 2020

Nanz Aalund breaks down a custom piece, fee by fee Editor’s Note: For their fifth anniversary, a client’s husband purchased a pair of kite-cut diamonds with the intention of creating a shadow band with the kite cuts overhanging the shoulders of his wife’s halo-style engagement ring, which features a salt-and-pepper center stone. However, the client […]

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Lessons Learned
July 8th, 2020

Joel McFadden discusses memorable advice, mistakes, and more What is the most memorable advice you ever received?Everyone makes mistakes; the difference between winners and losers is how you deal with the mistakes. I received this advice from my martial arts coach, Olaf. He advised me to learn from my mistakes and losses. Instead of getting […]

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Crisis Management
July 6th, 2020

Jim Tuttle of Green Lake Jewelry Works on surviving a pandemic By Shawna Kulpa A forward thinker, Jim Tuttle has long embraced the work-from-home concept. “We’ve always had a small crew working from home,” says the owner of Green Lake Jewelry Works, a custom studio with two locations in Washington State (Seattle and Bellevue). At […]

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A Fair Share
July 2nd, 2020

Maintaining control of custom designs In this occasional column, we talk to custom jewelers about the steps they’ve taken to protect their designs from customers looking to shop them around. This month, we speak with Dawn Muscio of D. Muscio Designs in Atlanta about how the deposits she requires at every stage of the custom […]

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A Gemfest for All
July 2nd, 2020

Encouraging sales of loose gems can lead to custom commissions Nancy Schuring of Devon Fine Jewelry in Wyckoff, New Jersey, is well known in her affluent market for her extensive, 100-plus variety gemstone inventory, as well as for her custom designs. Though she sells diamonds (because that’s what customers initially know about), it’s clear that […]

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Handling the Holidays
July 2nd, 2020

How custom jewelers manage the rush without getting crushed By John Shanahan  (Orignally Published in MJSA Custom Jeweler 7.4, November 2016) When the holiday season rolls around, many custom jewelers probably wish they had a Santa-like workshop loaded with magical elves to help handle the workload and the inevitable rush jobs. Sadly, with the jewelry […]

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Stage Craft
July 2nd, 2020

Tips for creating a custom design area that inspires customers Just as writer Virginia Wolff once wrote about a woman’s need for “a room of her own,” so custom designers and their clients deserve a space to call their own, too. Think of your custom design space as your theater set, where you set the […]

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Selling Outside the Box
July 2nd, 2020

Kristy Ford on operating without a storefront In this occasional column, we speak with custom jewelers operating without a storefront and explore the different ways they run their business, the challenges they face, and how they deal with finding and marketing to new clients. Tell us about your studio.I love my studio, though it is […]

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Custom Communication
July 2nd, 2020

Mark Loren on Marketing and Promoting Custom Jewelry By Shawna Kulpa Editor’s Note: For consumers used to shopping for jewelry out of a retail case, the concept of custom jewelry (and the near endless possibilities it offers) can seem pretty abstract. And for jewelers, communicating that concept—and getting customers to understand it and buy in—can […]

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At What Price?
July 2nd, 2020

Mark Grosser breaks down a custom piece, fee by fee Editor’s Note: When a customer had some leftover diamonds after selling her gold and having some larger gemstones re-mounted, custom jeweler Mark Grosser was only too happy to put those diamonds to use in a new bracelet for her. Here’s how Grosser of M. Grosser […]

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Coming Full Circle
July 2nd, 2020

Elichai Fowler on transitioning from retail to custom By Shawna Kulpa Elichai Fowler admits that he never wanted to be in the retail jewelry business. That’s why it was nearly a no-brainer when, a little more than a year ago, he considered shuttering his two retail stores and meeting with custom clients by appointment only. […]

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With a Twist
July 2nd, 2020

The design seemed simple enough—until the work actually began By Deborah A. Yonick Designer: Joel McFadden, JMD Jewelry, Red Bank, New Jersey At first glance, the ring created by designer Joel McFadden looks simple: a half-gold, half-platinum band that spirals around the finger and is trimmed with 1 mm pavé diamond. It was, McFadden says, […]

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Something Old, Something New…
July 2nd, 2020

Greg Stopka focuses on transforming heirlooms into opportunities By Shawna Kulpa When customers walk into one of JewelSmiths’ two studio locations in northern California, they typically do so bearing jewelry they want repaired or refurbished—a specialty the company actively promotes. And when JewelSmiths’ owner, Greg Stopka, or one of his team sits down with those […]

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Selling Outside the Box
July 2nd, 2020

Dawn Muscio on operating without a storefront In this occasional column, we speak with custom jewelers operating without a storefront and explore the different ways they run their business, the challenges they’ve faced, and how they deal with finding and marketing to new clients. Tell us about your studio.I have two studios. I have my […]

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A Royal Suite for Mardi Gras
July 2nd, 2020

Jewelry custom made for a king—and his entire court Designers: Pav & Broome Diamond Jewelers Today, most Americans think New Orleans when they think about Mardi Gras, the bacchanalian celebration just before the Christian season of Lent. But Mattew Pav—an owner of Pav & Broome Diamond Jewelers in Gulfport, Mississippi—and his wife, Gail, like to […]

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Getting Emotional
July 2nd, 2020

Greg Stopka prefers the challenge of custom redesigns By Shawna Kulpa For Greg Stopka of Jewelsmiths in Pleasant Hill, California, the true sweet spot of his business is not custom design. It’s custom redesign. “Custom redesign is a lot more personally satisfying because people get jazzed,” Stopka explains. He notes that such projects usually involve […]

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Don’t Be a Yes-Man
July 2nd, 2020

Learning when (and how) to say no to custom design projects By Irina Missiuro They say that the customer is always right. So if a customer chooses you to create their one-of-kind, custom engagement ring, you must be the best jeweler for the job, right? Maybe not. Although it may seem counterintuitive, you may want […]

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Cracking the Code
July 2nd, 2020

A systematic approach to discovering a client’s style By Rich Youmans One of the hardest tasks in creating custom jewelry is not necessarily the designing, but the deciphering—learning to read a customer so that the final piece reflects her tastes. To do this, designers must often become part psychologist and part curator. They’ll start with […]

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Custom Whisperers
July 2nd, 2020

Communication is the key to customer satisfaction By Shawna Kulpa Shopping for jewelry used to be an easy and straightforward process: A customer walked into a jewelry store, picked something out of a case, and if satisfied with the look and fit of the piece, purchased it and walked away happy. However, custom jewelry design […]

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At What Price?
March 19th, 2020

Kelly Williams breaks down a custom piece, fee by fee Editor’s Note: When the friend of a friend of custom jeweler Kelly Williams wanted to surprise her fiancé with a two-tone, Celtic-inspired wedding band featuring dragons, Williams was more than happy to take on the challenge. Here’s how Williams of KW Goldsmith in Minneapolis arrived […]

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At What Price?
March 19th, 2020

Wendy Brandes breaks down a custom piece, fee by fee EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in an occasional series focusing on how custom designers price their work to ensure they remain competitive, cover all costs, and (of course) make a profit. Here’s how Wendy Brandes of Wendy Brandes Fine Jewelry in New York City arrived […]

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