Thursday, August 15, 2013
There’s a story in today’s New York Times Thursday Styles section about “bespoke jewelry.” “Bespoke” is a fancy word for custom jewelry, the term that I prefer. I was especially interested in this paragraph.
“So-called bespoke pieces (the term started in men’s wear but has spread, like ‘curate,’ to everything from bicycles to software) are standard among certain luxury jewelers likes Leviev or Graff, but aren’t usually the norm for mid- to high-priced jewelry companies such as [Temple] St. Clair’s, according to Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a research and consulting firm in New York.”
I was initially surprised because I’m a high-priced jewelry company and I’ve been doing custom work since Day One. But then I realized that most of my sales made to individuals who find me through my website or by referral, rather than to large retailers. My clients usually don’t have a lot of opportunities to deal with designers directly, so they’re always excited to share their ideas about their dream jewelry and I’m always excited to make those dreams reality.
Custom wedding jewelry is always special to me, because it’s wonderful to be involved in such an important life event. I happily do traditional diamond solitaires, but I do relish the offbeat requests. One of my favorites is this white-sapphire ring I did for Lori Kadezabek.
I wrote all about the design process here. I still get choked up looking at this photo taken right after Lori’s now-husband, Brian Riolo, popped the question.
You can see Lori’s beautiful wedding photos here.
You don’t have to be getting married to get wedding jewelry from me. If you’ve been married for years and your engagement ring is no longer your style (or if it never was!) I’m happy to redesign your old jewelry to suit your current taste. That’s what I did for Susan, taking her ring from the style on the left in the photo below to the style on the right.
But I don’t limit my custom work to wedding jewelry. Gorgeous client Christine wanted a kick-ass tiger ring, so that’s what I made for her.
I wrote about the design in this blog post, where I shared a photo of the original wax model I made for the ring, as well as a revised wax model I did to get the piece perfect. That’s part of custom work: striving for perfection. And, by the way, the revision wasn’t Christine’s idea. She didn’t even see the original wax. I made the changes on my own even though it cost me time and money in labor that I absorbed because it wasn’t included in the price quote I gave Christine.
While a major, original design such as the tiger ring can be very costly (though not as expensive as a couple of the examples cited in the Times story), there are a lot of opportunities to get more budget-friendly customized pieces from my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes diffusion line. You can get any letter necklace you want for no more than the cost of the equivalent necklace on my website. For instance, my IDGAF silver necklace on a 17″ chain costs $300 on site.
That means any five letters in sterling silver on a 17″ chain will cost $300. Any three letters on a 17″ silver chain will cost $275 like the FTW necklace. Any four letters in gold on the standard chain length will cost $900, the same as this STFU necklace. Get it? You can have your name, initials, birthday, or the word of your choice in necklace form for the same price as one of my standard offerings, assuming the same number of letters and chain length.
One WENDYB by Wendy Brandes request I’ve gotten recently is for one of my large-size (approx. 1″) hashtag rings to be made into a petite, two-toned version like this dollar-sign ring.
In this case, because the original is a mid-finger ring in a size 4, a big difference in ring size might add $10 or $20 to the price, but that’s about it.
If your desire isn’t so much about creating something from scratch, but owning a piece you won’t see anyone else wearing, my limited-edition signature line will take care of that. For instance, I’ve only made one of my Chicken in Egg lockets — the one where the 18K gold egg opens up to reveal a silver chicken, who then opens up to reveal three gold eggs.
When I sell this one, I’ll leave the design on my website so that someone can request it, but I’ve decided I’m not going to make another for my inventory. Basically, it won’t be around for someone to try on and buy that easily. That’s true of many of my pieces. They may not be exactly one-of-a-kind because I CAN make them again, but that doesn’t mean I will make them, so they’re functionally one-of-a-kind. If you get my 18K gold Empress Wu dragon ring — the one with the revolving lapis lazuli globe in the dragon’s mouth — I doubt you’ll have to worry about bumping into someone else wearing the same thing.
If you have any questions about a customized version of a piece from my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes line or about a diamond-solitaire engagement ring, email me right away at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com. If you’re thinking of ornate wedding jewelry or a custom 18K gold luxury piece like Christine’s tiger ring, count on the minimum budget being $10,000. I suggest you read this post so that you understand the process. Then, when you feel comfortable with the price and process, email me at the hotmail address with any questions/concerns/requests. If you’re looking at the non-custom designs already listed on my website, anything that’s “price upon request” is going to be a minimum of $20,000, but far, far less than the $350,000 piece mentioned in the Times!