Cracking the Code

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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 basic questions—“How will you wear the piece? What activities do you enjoy? When will you wear it?” Then they’ll present a bounty of images, from photos of finished jewelry to CAD renderings to physical pieces, asking the customer to point out what she likes about each. Slowly, like tumblers in a combination lock, the answers build up (hopefully) until they unlock the client’s profile. Only then can the real designing begin.