I started this blog because I have a passion for diamond cut quality. But as a typical guy, I knew very little about jewelry and I still don’t consider myself a jewelry expert. What I love about the world we live in is that it allows people with very different backgrounds and interests to connect and today I want to introduce you to a friend of mine who I think can teach all of us a few things about buying high quality jewelry.
Layla Rezvan is a veteran diamond and jewelry prosumer with over 10 years experience of helping people all over the world buy diamond jewelry and we’re lucky to have her contributing to this humble blog. Take it away Layla!
In today’s technological world where it seems most jewelers have Computer Assisted Design (CAD) capabilities that promise you custom designed pieces that look, at least in the rendering, identical to one another, it can be difficult to distinguish a quality operation from one that will deliver a flawed or inferior product. With this in mind, how would a novice jewelry purchaser learn to understand and appreciate the disparity in the quality and skills of jewelry manufacturers, and how much of a difference can this disparity make in the product they deliver to you?
I’d like to take this chance to explain it to you.
Here’s the key for me: jewelry design, while it involves engineering, is at its heart a combination of art and craftsmanship. A CAD program is a tool just as a camera is a tool. You can have a camera and take pictures, but your pictures and the pictures hanging in the Guggenheim are very different, right? And your home videos, while entertaining, aren’t going to win any awards.
The same can be said for carpenters, architects, painters, and chefs – there is a vast difference between a novice and a master. It’s the same with making and designing jewelry. It’s easy to get confused and think that it’s just a matter of the right mechanics: halo + shank + little diamonds = same beautiful piece each time from any person who has a CAD set up.
Jewelry making is not the same as 3-D printing though. It can be hard for shoppers, at least initially, to appreciate that there can be such a great disparity between the skill, and most importantly the talent, of the person designing and executing their piece. And with CAD, it’s even easier to miss the connection between art and jewelry because—well, it’s just a computer program, right? If my local brick and mortar store has the same program and has some casting equipment then why not go with them? It’s an excellent question, and one that I’ve been asked over and over again.
So first of all, a good CAD person is an artist – not a mechanic. I understand that for someone who is new to buying jewelry, it’s easy to think that anyone with the equipment and software can do the job and that creating CAD work is just a matter of replication. But the truth is that’s just not the case.
The jewelers that are often mentioned on prosumer blogs and discussion forums who have the capability to create truly high quality custom jewelry have invested significant time and resources that few other stores, whether online or local, can match to ensure that their pieces are top quality in design, manufacture, and appearance. What’s more is that the best CAD artists are attracted to these jewelers because they want their work associated with the best diamonds money can buy.
So you have to ask yourself, do you want the master? Do you want the person who has the ability to create art? A person who has the eye, the talent, that something which just can’t be replicated or taught, but just is?
This is not to say that the mechanics are unimportant. Casting is a great manufacturing process when done right, but a little bit of air can turn what looks to be a perfect casting into the metal equivalent of swiss cheese, full of holes, and fragile. In addition, insufficient supports and balance in a piece can make a jewelry that appears solid, but is actually weak at certain stress points, which could cause them to bend and warp during regular wear and tear. Going too thin on a shank can have similar results.
If you want good CAD and cast work – work that is beautiful artistically, but which also stands the test of time and is worth the time, effort and expense, you must go with someone who has a proven record of combining artistry and engineering because you need both. Without the art you end up with something that’s as sturdy as a battleship, but you wouldn’t say it’s pretty. Without the engineering you might end up with something beautiful, but is easily damaged irrevocably through simple daily wear.
These reasons are why finish details and skills, as well as casting quality control, and stone setting skills are extremely important. Not to mention the quality and cut of any smaller stones, colored gems or diamonds, a piece requires. All of this mechanical know-how and artistic skill comes from experience, a commitment to excellence, and an investment in skill that can demand a higher price, just as with anything else.
Ok that’s easy then, just go with the most expensive jeweler and you’ve got nothing to lose! I’m just kidding. Please don’t do that because there is so much more to this experience than the price you’re paying for example the reputation of the jeweler. The jeweler must be known for not only excellent work, but also quality control and customer service. They must have the proven track record that I mentioned earlier.
But what does a proven record mean? Does it simply mean yelp reviews from people who might not have much experience with custom jewelry? From a relative or coworker who had a good experience themselves but who has nothing to compare against?
I feel that the person who is recommending a jeweler is a very important consideration so make sure that person is qualified to make that recommendation. Look for expertise and experience in someone who has screened the jewelers, seen their work in person, and know your expectations. In other words do your research and speak with a jewelry expert before you commit to any CAD project.
– Layla Rezvan, Jewelry and Diamond Prosumer