Designing Unique Jewelry

2 Minute Read

By Martin RugrodenMore from this author

More and more jewelers are designing unique jewelry pieces for their clientele. One reason is the custom jewelry market is more accessible through computer-aided designing (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM). Another more important reason is the customer's desire for more personalized jewelry.

In this age of mass merchandizing it is difficult to stand out when many chains or "box stores" are selling thousands of identical items like clothes, glasses, and cars. The jeweler who will take a few extra moments to suggest an additional gem or redesign to a customer in for a repair may enjoy a noticeable increase in income. Since the customer is already prepared to trust you with the repairs they will be more willing and open to entertain further suggestions to set themselves apart.

Colored gems are still a mystery to much of the buying public and unlike diamonds, they are not an easily quantified commodity. Because of the nearly infinite color variations, optical characteristics and the endless variety of shapes available today, it is less of a struggle for the jeweler to create a new, unique design using unusual gems.


Jewelers using one of the CAD programs find the process of designing, selling and building one of a kind jewelry less challenging than ever. The traditional methods of de- signing can also be used with great success for those wanting to distinguish themselves from the competition.


Using new and unusual gem designs will set a jeweler apart from the shop down the street. CAD programs can take an image of a gem and
trace it's outline with
 extreme dimension and
 accuracy. For those 
using traditional
methods of designing, 
gently heating wax, other gem and pressing 
them together will give 
an exact impression of not only the girdle outline of the gem but the depth as well. The picture shows an example of how striking designs can be accomplished using CAD. This can also be done using traditional methods as well.

If you are a traditional jeweler working with heat sensitive gems, or, any gem for that matter, you can quickly make a model by using a variety of casting methods. I use a watchmaker's watch case filler called SPEEDI-FIT. Simply wrap the gem in a plastic wrap like Saran-wrap and press it into enough filler to make an impression of the pavilion and girdle of the gem. Wait about 5 minutes for the SPEEDI-FIT to harden and remove the gem. Next, put a little plaster of paris in the cavity and let it harden. Now you have a model you can use to carve an exact setting for the gem. If you don't have the time to do this, ask your gem supplier to provide one for you. Now the danger of damaging the gem is lessened as well as possibly having to alter the finished piece to fit the gem.

By using new methods and out of the ordinary colored gems, your customer is less likely to shop for a lower price with your competitor. Instead of having to lower prices and lose profits to compete, the customer is very likely to stay with you.

Martin Rugroden is a custom gem cutter of unique and original designed stones and owner of Precision Faceting Co. in Maple Grove, MN. He can be reached at 763 416 4385 or by email at


By Martin Rugroden – © Bench Magazine
In association with
BENCH Magazine is devoted to the Bench Jeweler in retail jewelry stores and small trade shops.

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Martin Rugroden

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