The Craft of Custom-Created Jewelry

There are few gifts more personalized, sentimental and unique than custom jewelry. Not only are they beautiful and truly one-of-a-kind, they represent unparalleled forethought and craftsmanship. Plus, custom jewelry is a lovely, timeless way to say how you feel about someone you hold dear.

These are just a few of the things owner Tom Vander Lugt thinks about when he creates a custom jewelry piece at Swierenga Jewelers. We recently sat down with Tom to learn about the process of creating custom jewelry and what makes the Swierenga’s approach so unique.

The Process

Custom Jewelry Process - Drawing | Computer Model | Final Piece

Tom explained that every custom-crafted piece begins with an idea — maybe someone wants to use the stones from their grandmother’s wedding ring to create a new brooch, or to set a family heirloom diamond into a fresh, new setting. So the customer and craftsman sit down to discuss styles, the recipient’s tastes and how the piece will be worn. Next, Tom creates hand sketches to present to the customer. At this point, the duo may make modifications to the stones, size, or any number of intricate details. “Once we’ve all agreed on a design, we’re ready to turn that idea into a real piece of jewelry.”

The process continues by turning the approved sketch into a 3D mold, which can happen one of two ways. Tom either hand-carves a model from wax or re-creates his sketch in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program where a model is then made (employing a process similar to 3-D printing). This model will be used to cast the piece.

Next, the wax mold is injected (or cast) with molten metal. Essentially, the wax is melted out, and whatever metal the customer has chosen moves into the space once occupied by the wax. After casting, the piece will go through a variety of finishing processes, the stones will be set and the final touches will be applied.

“A custom or customized piece is something that can be tailored uniquely to a person’s wearing habits or tastes. There’s a certain specialness to having something that was made just for you. I love being able to take a customer through this process because it’s an opportunity to create something that has never existed on the planet. It requires an amazing amount of craftsmanship and detail — but it makes for an incredibly meaningful gift.”

What You Can Expect

As you may imagine, having a piece custom-created is going to take a little longer and cost a bit more than shopping directly from the case. But the exciting news is that there really aren’t many rules when it comes to dreaming up your special piece. Tom says just about anything can be made into a piece of jewelry if it means something to you — he’s even incorporated an elk tooth into a custom piece for one beloved customer!

We hope you’ll consider Swierenga’s for your next (or first) custom-designed piece of jewelry. The process is truly remarkable, and Tom does it with so much heart and attention to detail. And according to Tom, when you choose to have Swierenga’s create your custom piece — you have his promise “to exceed your expectations.”