Finding Inspiration: The Custom Jewelry Design Process

I am often asked how I come up with my ideas.  If I am working with a client on a custom piece, then the process is very collaborative. The final design springs from the client's goal, such as designing a wedding band, the theme,  and their  inspiration. The theme might be floral, or geometric, modern or traditional in style. The inspiration is often personal. A bouquet of sunflowers, Lake Michigan, the neoclassical columns found inside The Field Museum, and a Celtic knot have all been great starting points for creating a timeless, personal designs.

The next part of the process is all about constraints. Constraints are the designer's friend! If the piece is to be a wedding band, then the area of the wedding band is the space you have to work with. So, if the client has a  size 6 1/2 ring finger and wants a band that is 6mm wide, then the designable area is 6mm x approximately 60mm- the distance around the finger. This is not a lot of space! I typically draw the ring as if it were cut and laid flat- then I can see how much space I have to work with. Sometimes it just comes down to the math. If my client wants a row of diamonds set between two decorative rims, the 6mm band might have 1mm rims with a 4mm space left in the middle to set the diamonds- so 4mm diamonds, with prongs placed in the spaces will fit, and with the depth of the stones (about 1.8mm) I can use 15 diamonds. The equivalent to 3.00 carats in diamond weight. The other options to consider would be smaller diamonds, larger rims, or multiple rows of smaller stones and smaller rims, a different setting style like bezels, or a narrower band altogether. The math creates great constraints that further the conversation, the goals and the final design.