Help me make a "custom" ring

I want to buy a setting from one source and a loose solitaire from another source. Where’s a good place to get a setting? What should I look out for? How will I know they will work together? Once I get the materials, how would you recommend I find a reputable jeweler to put it all together? Pretend I know nothing about this stuff.

I know how I would do it. We have a local jeweler/goldsmith that makes all of her own custom jewelry from scratch and she’s pretty amazing at it. Much more art than simple commodity. I’m sure that she would do what you want. Since it’s unlikely you live near me though, I would guess that such people exist in other communities. I probably wouldn’t go to a ‘chain jeweler’ like Kay’s or Jared’s or any of the other Sterling brands since the people working there are just sales people that don’t really know too much about jewelry at all. If it were me, I’d start on Google and look up jewelry stores and work your way down to the first non-chain and stop in and see if they make custom jewelry or not and that they look vaguely reputable and see examples of what they have done in the past. I would guess that they could probably help you from there.

That’s basically how the wife and I did it.

We started looking at the jewelry stores in malls and the big chains. We felt like numbers and we felt like the sales people were more interested in making their monthly quotas and commissions than helping us choose something that meant something special to us.

We ended up at a tiny little place in a strip mall that sold a lot of watches and had a few dozen pieces of jewelry made by the shopkeeper’s brother. There’s a bunch of jewelry stores like that scattered around this town. We happened to really like a ring that was unique to that store but we didn’t want to use a real diamond (for various reasons you can find in other threads on this board). So we asked the brothers to make us the ring and put a moissanite stone in it instead. Three weeks later, we had an awesome and unique ring.

While I was dropping off one of the installment payments, I asked if the stone could be a square cut (because the wife changed her mind about the shape she preferred) and the designer said, “It could have, but not now. If I’d known that’s what you wanted I would have made the receptacle different.” So he ordered the stone that would fit what we originally ordered and the wife absolutely loved it anyway.

Diamond Ring
Wear it on your hand
Gonna tell the world
I’m your only man
…–Jon Bongiovi (Bon Jovi)
…Diamond Ring
…These Days

To answer the questions more directly and in a more practical order:

  1. What should I look out for?
    The short answer is Look out for Fraud. :dubious:
    Study the four C’s of Diamonds – don’t just read and memorize, but study them well. Then find an editor’s loupe (they provide greater magnification than a jewelers’ loupe) and Take that magnifier with you to every place you visit.

While you’re at it, read up on the Diamond Industry, paying particular attention to the topics of Conflict Diamonds and the De Beers Cartel. Note also that Conflict surrounds just about all of the jewelry material industries.

Then research and consider manufactured diamonds. Yes, modern technology has gotten to the point that they can be manufactured better than Superman could make one between his palms. There is even a niche industry that will make diamonds out of a loved-one’s ashes (they’re carbon, after all) though I suspect that’s not cheap.

  1. Once I get the materials, how would you recommend I find a reputable jeweler to put it all together?
    Ask your trusted friends and relatives who they’ve used, who they liked, who they didn’t like, who disappointed or pleased them.

  2. Where’s a good place to get a setting?
    See #2 above; Find chain or solo jewelry places that will sell settings without stones, if that’s what you wish.

  3. How will I know they will work together?
    You’ll learn about CUT in your studies for #1; you’ll realize an Emerald cut won’t fit well in a solitare setting, etc.
    In your various visits to jewelry stores, talk to the people and ask if
    A) they’ll let you purchase separate settings and stones
    B) they’ll let you supply your own stone for their settings
    C) they’ll order the stone you want from the dealer you want on your behalf.
    It’s quite possible you’ll need to buy the stone you like at one place, and give it to your chosen jeweler to make the ring to fit around it.

Note that Los Angeles has a jewelry district not far from their Garment District. I would suspect New York, Chicago, Boston and other giant cities would also have similar specialty regions like that. Before you go anywhere to start your hunt, do your research so you know what you should look out for. Most of the places my wife and I visited in the L.A. Jewelry District were selling stones on the low end of their clarity rating. Some were even trying to pass 5s as 4s and 3s as 2s. If I hadn’t brought my own magnifier, I probably would have been fooled.

Happy hunting!

This Diamond Ring
Can Be something beautiful
This Diamond Ring
Can be Dreams that are coming true
…–Gary Lewis (Gary Lewis & the Playboys)
This Diamond Ring