From Start to Finish: Fine Jewelry Production in the Diamond District

From Start to Finish: Fine Jewelry Production in the Diamond District

Yet, somehow, this little company manages to work on up to 10 custom orders at the same time (more during the holidays), make another 10-20 unique pieces a month, as well as source and curate unusual gems.  How do we do it?

The answer, for us as well as any and every small shop, is “outsourcing.” 

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How we Make Stuff, Continued: Wax Model, CAD Model, or Hand Fabrication?

How we Make Stuff, Continued: Wax Model, CAD Model, or Hand Fabrication?

As I briefly discussed in my previous blog, Cecile Raley Designs primarily designs jewelry using CAD.  This is probably the most cost-effective way to produce a jewelry design, but it’s by no means the only way.  Let's first have a look at the other two ways of making a piece of jewelry: wax model and hand fabrication, to see the advantages and drawbacks of each.

This blog is co-authored with Inken Krause, owner of Enhoerning Jewelry - Most of Inken's own jewelry is hand fabricated from scratch, and she uses hand carved wax for certain custom orders, especially for antique inspired reproduction pieces.

Wax Modeling: this is carving the piece in wax first, then casting it in the desired metal.  Almost any piece of jewelry can be produced this way. Carving elaborate wax models requires a lot of experience and a steady hand.  Few tools are required: manual carving tools or a flex shaft, a source of heat like a wax pen, and of course, carving wax.  The most expensive part of wax modeling is the labor, it can take hours to days to make a piece. If changes are needed, the carver may well have to start from scratch.  A wax carver also needs to understand the geometry of the design, starting from shrinkage in casting, to what gems are set and how.  That way, the carver can carve out prongs or a channel, or just leave the correctly calculated space on the metal for the setter.  Many wax carvers are learned jewelers and carving is only one of their skills, and their jewelry experience will inform how they proceed.

The main advantages of wax carving are being able to carve almost anything, being able to create designs of varying complexity, and being able to produce very organic designs.  The disadvantage is the cost of labor.  A wax carving can take a couple of hours up to a couple of days!

Wax Carved Ring with Wire Open Work And Piercing by Enhoerning Jewelry"Wire-based jewelry styles styles can be emulated in CAD or with hand-carved wax, but they tend to come out less clean, and sometimes the "wires" will be a little squarish and not perfectly round." Inken Krause

Wax Carved Ring Design
Hand-Fabricated Ring (piercing work and a-jour), by Enhoerning Jewelry


Hand Fabrication: this process refers to the actual metalsmithing of a piece, e.g. cutting and sawing sheet metal, stretching wire or rolling out metal if needed, and then soldering everything together.  No casting will be required, except perhaps if one wants to make a mold of the finished piece to recast for later usage or to make more pieces of that same exact design.

An advantage of hand fabrication is achieving a certain level of detail that you can’t get with CAD.  One can right away work in mixed metals by just soldering together any metals one likes. Individual parts can be cleaned and fine-tuned before they are assembled, and they can be remade as well if there’s a mistake.  Metalsmithing lends itself to making high-end and intricate pieces, though not to any kind of organic design as the basic shapes are flat metals and various shapes of wire (round, flat half-round).  But hand fabrication is very time-consuming and therein also lies the drawback; it can be very expensive.  A ring with many parts can take a week in labor instead of a few hours or a day or two with wax carving. Finally, the “bench work” as we call it in the trade, requires enormous amounts of skill and that too costs money.  But the finished look is often stunning in its detail and well worth the price for a fine quality piece for an extraordinary gem.

Hand Fabricated Sapphire Ring with Wire Work Gallery by Enhoerning Jewelry
"Hand fabricated jewelry is often based on hand-drawn wire; the use of wire allows for the creation of intricate baskets and decorative elements which will look extremely clean and feel very smooth to the touch. Hand fabricated (forged) jewelry offers superior durability because there is no risk of porosity from air bubbles trapped in the metal, something that can happen with cast pieces." Inken Krause


CAD Modeling: making the model on the computer with the help of a CAD program like Rhino.  CAD modeling was originally developed for mathematical design, but as jewelry design involves just that (i.e. a lot of geometry), adapting these programs for jewelry design was a logical step. CAD programs are difficult to use at first (and expensive to buy), and just like with the two other methods of fabrication mentioned above, it also requires a good understanding of how jewelry is made.  Shrinkage in casting has to be calculated; prong placement, basket, and gallery designs need to be such that they don’t break in casting, they allow for wear and tear, they allow for the setter to have enough metal to work with (i.e. prong thickness and length, depth of basket), and that they can be properly cleaned after casting, to remove the gridlines of the printer – an issue that doesn’t arise in hand fabrication, as one can clean and polish off at any step during assembly.

Fully Rendered CAD File for a Three Stone Ring by CRD


An advantage of CAD modeling is certainly the price because an extremely simple model (say a wedding band) can be done in just minutes, up to a couple of hours for something complicated, and maybe a day for an extremely elaborate and organic design.  Changes can be simple and don’t involve and waste of metal or wax.  Changes require deleting a lot of steps or just a few, just like deleting a paragraph in a letter or scrapping the entire thing.  Also, a jeweler can provide a file for a model meant for a different stone size and have the CAD designer make a model based on the original specs, thereby creating a new model that is exactly to specs.  (When you look at the Stuller catalog and click on the different gem sizes and shapes to see an image, you are actually calling up an image of a new CAD file made for that gem size and shape in the same design).

Modification of Lily Design for Six Sidestones by CRD


Also, a CAD model can be rendered for viewing, meaning a “rendering” software is used to give the CAD model a finished look.  Rendering software comes with colors to represent gems and metal, metal finishes (like brushed or polished), and other tools that provide the client a sneak peek of the finished piece, allowing for easier adjustments and modifications based on the rendering.  

A disadvantage of CAD modeling is that because the process is mathematical/geometrical, i.e. by working out the geometry of a quarter of a ring top and then replicating it for the other three quarters, organic designs are much more difficult to achieve.  As you may remember from your school days, the geometry of a cube is much simpler than that of a donut (which is actually very advanced geometry).  For organic designs, therefore, a wax carving is the better way to go.  Additionally, CAD models often have a less intricate and detailed look than wax carving or hand fabrication. 

Layout for CAD Ring by CRD
CAD Rendering of the Above


This lack of intricacy can be partly remedied by hand engraving the piece as opposed to adding a pattern to the CAD, and by hand setting it as opposed to adding beads and millgrain to the CAD.  This also allows for more variability in the finished piece (i.e. you can set any number of gems into a band or on a shank, as opposed to having to fill the prongs that were already added in the CAD). But as you may have guessed, this increases the price again, as it adds the labor in at another step of the process.

Is there, then, a BEST way to make a piece of jewelry?  In my view, no.  Cecile Raley Designs is generally very happy with using CAD, but we have also done wax modeling and hand fabrication.  One can also mix and match, i.e. cast ring shanks but build the prongs, etc.  Making a pendant always involves some simple metalsmithing, as does a post earring, because jump rings and bails or posts have to be soldered on manually after casting.  So on the whole, any design house should have all three methods at its disposal, even if it has a preferred way of manufacture.

Back of a Hand Fabricated Ruby Necklace by Enhoerning Jewelry
While hand fabrication allows for the creation of finely-detailed pieces, there are limitations when it comes to textures and engraving. Chased or engraved elements are usually not applied by a goldsmith, but require the highly specialized skills of a hand engraver." Inken Krause

As you can see, using CAD, the same design can be easily modified by adding or subtracting elements:
New Set of Contour Rings Currently in Production (Waiting for Engraved Versions by Alex P, our Hand Engraving Artist)
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    Colored Gems are not Diamonds: How We Make Stuff, Differently

    It happens to us at CRD all the time: a client with a low budget asks for raw castings so that they can set or glue their own stone.  And we tell them: you can’t set anything that way, there will be no beads to push over, there’s no millgrain, sometimes no hole for the gem.  The casting will just look like a piece of metal with a shape.  You have to cut the seat, file the claws. 

    Emerald and Diamond Ring with Claw Prongs and Diamond Cut Down Pave


    Clients also get castings to have their own gems set locally.  Before I do that, I usually ask if their jeweler has experience in working with colored stones. I have to make sure because it’s a specialized skill and pave work requires a $3000 microscope.  I’m happy to just sell gems but I also I want to protect my client.  Many colored gems scratch more easily, and one has to apply less force when setting them.  Colored stones cannot touch in pave setting because they can crush each other.

    Hand Pave Set Benitoite Ring


    Our CAD Designs contain a lot fewer details than standard CADs because the setting is all done “by hand”.  We also make designs with super-long prongs so that colored gems with a deep “belly” can fit – of course long prongs are wasted metal if you set diamonds, which is one of the main reasons most commercial settings do not have them (they are also manufactured by the thousands, and ours are not).  With longer prongs you can also set a stone that is a touch larger than the official “fit”.  The stone will now sit a little higher, that’s all, or the prongs are opened up more, or both.  You can also set a stone that is smaller.  In that case we millgrain the edge of the halo so it looks intentional.  The millgrain, therefore, is also not in the CAD and therefore has to be done by hand.  

    Ring Setting with Super Long Claws
    Lily Ring Casting, Unfinished Example
    Lily Ring, Finished Example 1
    Lily Ring, Finished Example 2


    Colored gems have characteristics that challenge both the jeweler and setter, and commercial jewelry techniques have to be adapted: they often vary more in size so the holes drilled cannot be as uniform – and they vary in color too, but that’s my job to work on when separating out parcels.  Colored stones are deeper than diamonds and can poke through the back of a wedding band so we had to design our own, which are deeper.  They can push through the side of a bezel, so again, we had to design our own stacking rings and taper the bezel in a more rounded way (the rings also interlock very well because we designed them that way).  Colored gems are soft, which makes it difficult to set them with corner vee prongs, or in princess cut bezels if the bezel walls are too thick, or in hard metals like 18 kt white gold.  The tools for holding them have to be adjusted, or even made.  Ultrasonic has to be avoided at times. 


    Commercial Castings with Beads


    For instance, diamonds for eternity necklaces are set by soldering the settings to a penny and then setting the diamonds, then unsoldering it. But colored gems cannot take that heat so the setter has to find a way to hold a minuscule bezel somehow and still exert enough force to push metal over the stone. 

    Commercial Setting with Ball Prongs, Not Set By Us
    Commercial Casting with Pre-Set Beads and Millgrain in the CAD (Not Set By Us) 


    I was always more fascinated by gems than by jewelry, and so I start with the gem, not the design:  What can I make with this shape or color, and what kind of setting will this gem need me to provide?  As my little company got bigger, we made more and more CAD settings, because we realized we couldn’t make our colored jewelry designs the same way as diamond jewelry was made.

    But its not just the gems that make our jewelry different.  Its also the fact that we love a hand made 1920’s look which you cannot get in CAD because castings are generally more chunky and less detailed than hand fabrication; but at the same time we love the versatility and price advantage that a CAD design offers.  While at CRD we can provide both wax modeling and fully hand fabricated jewelry, both are pricey and rarely are they needed.  There are two other less expensive ways of setting the jewelry apart and capturing the feel of timelessness and hand fabrication:

    • Hand Engraving as opposed to engraving that is built into the CAD:  Alex P., our engraver (and that of Buccellati, but that’s ok), gets the silver model, pre-polished, and I tell him “some here, some there, not so much here, and make it Art Deco-ish or Art Nouveau-ish and you know what you think looks good.” If Alex wasn’t Alex, this lack of “vision” on my part would perhaps leave the engraver without much guidance.  But Alex knows better because he’s done this since he was 14.  And I know he knows!  So why mess things up?!  We offer many of our pieces engraved and non-engraved.  An additional plus of this is that we can make a slightly bigger looking piece that still doesn’t require a lot of extra gems.
    Hand Engraved Ring by Alex P.
    • Hand setting as opposed to putting beads and millgrain into the CAD where the setter just pushes prongs and/or beads.  Pierre B. and Ethan S. do all that work themselves.  They clip down the prongs to the needed size, they can split bigger prongs in half, they file them into balls or claws, small or large, roundish or pointy as you wish.  They drill the holes where the gems go (on occasion we do guide holes for proper spacing of the drill).  They do that based on the size of the gems and whether I throw them a curveball by asking them to set a pear shape into a kite, or an oval, or some such time-consuming thing.  This allows for more size and also some shape variation in one and the same CAD design.  Then, the setters can make a bright cut, cut out beads or scoops or vee’s depending on how best to hold the stone but also improve the overall look.  They fill gaps that look too metal-y with a second row of millgrain, or some extra beads.  They millgrain the inner halo, they lengthen the engraving or invent something if they think it looks good.  Sometimes they also reinvent my color arrangements.  Mostly that’s by accident but if I don’t give specific instructions or say, do what you do best, they get creative.  All my setters tell me they like the work because it’s not like other work but they don’t like the time it takes to do it. 
    Hand Cut Pave
    Layout of Gem Placement before Pave Setting this Ring
    Double Millgrain Penelope Earrings, Hand Set By CRD


    That, of course is one of the upshots here: the most expensive part of our manufacture is setting, sometimes that costs more than the gold and gems. For silver jewelry, I think the added setting cost – which can be 2.5x that of preset castings, even in NY, is not justified for the buyer and so I counsel against it.  I prefer to sell things where there is a good balance between metal and labor, and of course, some rarity to the gems, which are, as you all know, our main passion.

    Hand Pave With Oval Gems, Very Difficult Task  
    One of my Favorite Custom Pieces, Arrow Pendant for an Archer



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    NEW NEW NEW: Rings, Pendants, & Earrings for Alternate Stone Shapes

    NEW NEW NEW: Rings, Pendants, & Earrings for Alternate Stone Shapes

    With Tucson around the corner, I've been thinking long and hard about what new items I could make that would offer up some options for alternate stone shapes.  My main focus this time was the oval, or rather, the roval. In particular, designs that allow for more 3x2 and 4x3 options. There are so many 4x3 ovals on the market and they often cost less, too.  So I worked on a new Lily using those, and Elizabeth shapes for earrings.

    OVAL LILY: These take a 4mm center stone, 4 4x3mm ovals and 2mm (or smaller) gems on the outside.  The width is 17mm, so it's a nice and substantial size.

    Pricing is $680 for the pendant and $760 for the ring in 14kt (note these are new gold prices as gold has gone up a few hundred dollars in the past few months).

    14k gold pendant with sapphires and rubies14k gold ring with tourmaline sapphire and mint garnet

    ELIZABETH EARRINGS: These earrings can be made into studs or danglies, and the components could also be used in a bracelet or as part of a necklace.  They are made for 4x3 and 3x2mm gems.  Prices are $420 for the larger and $390 for the smaller earrings. 

    hauyne rose gold earrings
    7 x 4.5mm with hauyne


    rose gold emerald earrings
    8 x 5.5mm with emeralds


    HEXAGON FOR OVALS: While we were at it, we also made hexagons for rovals (4x3mm and 3x2mm). The smaller hexagons are priced at $370 in 14Kt gold and the larger ones are $400.

    hexagon 14k gold earrings with spinel

    14k gold hexagon earrings with spinel

    STAR FLOWER PENDANT WITH 8 PETALS: We made this model for 3x2mm gems only, because I wanted to feature the hauyne I have but we can also get Burma spinel and hopefully a few other sizes in Tucson.  The center stone is 4mm but I can go up to 4.5mm.  I have a ring version of this as well, but it isn't finished yet. These are priced at $480 for the pendant and $580 for the ring (coming soon!) in 14Kt gold.

    rose gold flower pendant with hauyne and rhodochrosite

    STACKING RINGS: We came out with six new models, five of which are in the photos here. All are priced at $220, which will be our new price for 14 Kt gold stacking rings.  They are made for 6x4 pears and ovals, as well as 3x2 ovals (east west and north south).

    gold stacking rings with gemstones

    gold stacking rings with gemstones

    gold stacking rings with gemstones

    NEW DESIGNS IN PROGRESS: Another underappreciated stone shape for us has been the trillion.  We made a scalloped design for a 6mm center and 15 x 1.5mm round sidestones, pendant and ring.  The pendant will cost $650 and the ring costs $710 in 14Kt gold. The pendant just came out, the ring will be available after Tucson.

    And we also made a design for a 7mm stone which is currently with Alex for engraving of the sides. You'll have to imagine the finished product, but here's how it looks in the CAD. We made the prongs super long so that we can also set a slightly larger than 7mm gem, which we'd open the prongs up a little to accommodate.  A 7mm or a hair smaller gem will sit as shown in the image, and the prongs will be cut down to tiny claws as in all our designs.  The sidestones are 2x2.5rds, 2x 1.6rds and 2x1.5rds or 1x 2.5mm.

    Finally, we have a design coming for a 6mm cushion, an adaptation of last year's prize winner Josephine.  The sidestones for this will be 4x 1.7mm round & 12x 1.3ish mm round.  This model is currently in printing, but we will have a finished item later in February to show you.  


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    Design your Ring with us: which settings for my gem?

    Design your Ring with us: which settings for my gem?

    Ok this may not be the most exciting blog entry ever, but I hope it is a very useful one. It answers a question that I get several times a week.  What can this gem fit into? I have been giving suggestions in the listings, but they are not comprehensive. This table is, and helps a great deal as our catalogue, right now, doesn't have a search function (yes we need to fix that but we are a small shop and we are not web design pros...).  

    In a future version of this table, there will also be photos, for now you can use it as a reference list together with our catalog.  We will post this table under resources as well, and we will stick it into the custom design page.  A similar table for necklaces is in the works.

    Happy designing!

    Scooped Edwardian Ring

    Rosette Ring

    Sunflower Ring

    Bipass Ring

    Amelie Ring

    Small Lily Ring

    Scalloped Ring

    Oval Rosette Ring

    Elizabeth Ring

    Baguette Ring

    Tourbillon Ring

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    New Season, New Items, and We Welcome Your Contributions

    New Season, New Items, and We Welcome Your Contributions

    New Season, New Items, and We Welcome Your Contributions

    As you know – or maybe you don’t but now you will: we work hard to make our designs adaptable so that you can choose more than just the metal and gems.  Our new models come engraved and unengraved, with sidestone options, and some even leave room for different gem sizes and shapes.  I’ve quoted prices here in 14K gold so please let us know if you’re interested in 18K, silver, platinum silver or platinum.  Continue reading

    Custom Inspirations - Earrings

    Custom Inspirations - Earrings

    Do you realize that, as a retail business, I am already getting holiday advice emails from our industry?  Etsy, Manta, and even FedEx are sending around fact sheets on how to prepare for holiday business, or how to boost it.  For my own part I’ve never had a ton of it, probably because most of you are shopping for yourselves.  So maybe then I need to think differently – i.e. propose some ways in which you can get others to find you the perfect gift from my shop, either with a gift card or with starting early by planning a custom project to wear on Christmas or New Year's.

    When I think of treating myself with jewelry, my own first thought is not a ring or a pendant but earrings.  I have more earrings than anything else in my personal collection.  I wear a Diamond pendant all the time, and rotate between 4 or 5 rings, the rest are earrings.  Dangly earrings mostly, though I occasionally wear a kite with a Diamond in my second hole.  I should probably branch out to a single Hauyne or a small square Burma Spinel!

    Custom earrings can be an expensive item in my shop since you are making two of everything.  On the other hand, there are some fun ways of reducing cost:

    1. Use interchangeable leverbacks, which come in silver, white gold and yellow gold.
    2. Use Diamond huggies or plain gold hoops instead of leverbacks.
    3. Dangle a gem from a short chain behind a post.
    4. Make one component at a time, i.e. a pear gemstone dangle first, then have another component lazered on top at a different point. In fact I often change my earrings around by adding another part or switching from leverbacks to posts.

    Here are some ways in which I have made my own earring collection more varied:

    In these Red Mahenge Spinel, Burma Spinel and Diamond Earrings I used the leverback itself as part of the design and added the Victorian flower component as part of the mechanism.

    In these Purple Garnet, Color Change Garnet and Zircon earrings I used my favorite oval leverbacks, my trillium connector part but no channel wire.  Rather, I used a five prong pear setting which provides a lot of light for the center gem.The basket is really low set on these and it's strongly tapered so there's no interference in the back.  These come in oval also and in emerald cut.

    These 6mm Tanzanite cushions are set with tips up and down as danglies, and I soldered a tiny round Diamond on the bottom for extra interest.  These are among my every day favorites.  My four prong floral settings are perfect for this design.

    In These Vietnamese Spinel and Paraiba Drops I used Purple Tanzanites in Pearl Cups as the top post instead of leverbacks.

    I rarely use yellow gold but these colors called for it.  Peachy Mahenge Spinel and Chrysoberyl in channel wire - for the Mahenge Spinel I used an 8 prong pearl setting which is fairly low set.  It comes in round only, 14 kt yellow and white gold.

    Here's another variation on the dangly - Seafoam Green Tourmaline baguettes with handmade prong settings that run almost no interference with the gem.  Directly soldered on top are Purple Garnets in low set bezels, and dangling above my prize: two 4x3mm oval Paraiba Tourmalines.  I made a matching necklace for this.

    And finally, my most prized set, Red Mahenge Spinel, Pink Burmese Spinel, and oodles of Diamonds set in my Penelope style.  With Diamond leverbacks (available upon request).  Who could resist?

    And here, finally, are some inspirations for custom creations for some of you:

    Red Garnet, Mahenge Spinel and Mandarin Garnet:

    Burma Spinel and Paraiba with a Chain Component

    Aquamarine and Yellow Sapphire, the Aqua setting is hand fabricated

    Mahenge Spinel and Diamond

    Tanzanite Cabochons, Tanzanite Faceted, Paraiba, Diamond 

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    Newest Items: More hexagons and Lily Designs

    Newest Items: More hexagons and Lily Designs

    It seems that it's time for a somewhat overdue blog entry on some of my new items that have come out and are coming out soon.  It's always tough to stay on top of making new items, pricing them out carefully, adding in options, photos, and publishing them on the blog or here on my custom pages.  It takes months, really so it's high time I'm giving you at least an overview.


    1. Hexagons: this line has been expanded with a number of bar settings, each using five stones.  They come in three styles.  A straight bar, which we have in a 2mm, 3mm and 4mm size, all the same size stones.  


    Then we have a bar which is graduated from larger to smaller stones but otherwise straight. That one comes in a bar with 3mm, 2.5mm and 2mm.  And we have a V shaped one in the same size.  More sizes are coming up.  A 2.5mm, 2mm and 1.5mm graduated one is available too.

    hexagon necklace

    The V-shaped piece can be used to dangle something from, and the bar styles can be worn vertically and horizontally.  They would also work for bracelets, and I could make matching ones for earrings.

    For the 5 stone bar pieces we've standardized prices to $350 for each necklace, assuming 16 or 18 inches in length with our standard necklace.  The bracelets are $300.

    Also coming out are two more hexagon trilliums for earings or necklaces, these will be 3mm and 2mm respectively.  

    Finally we are coming out with two hexagon smaller bars for 3 stones each, those will be straight bars for 3 stones, also 2mm and 3mm.  None of these are priced yet but they can be used for earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets, as well as components in larger designs.

    2. Lilies: let a thousand flowers bloom!  Lily now comes in a small, medium and large.  All versions can be ordered as a ring or a pendant, and the smallest could be earring components too.  All have an engraved version and a non engraved version and the larger ones allow for some variety in designs.

    Here are the breakdowns for prices and stone sizes:

    a) Small Lily: 3.5mm, 3mm, 1.5mm

    Ring: $570 engraved, $720 with sidestones

    Pendant: $340 engraved, $500 with sidestones

    This Lily can accommodate smaller stones (2mm, 1mm) in the petals


    b) Medium Lily: 4mm, 3.5mm, 2mm

    Ring: $620 engraved, $770 with sidestones

    Pendant: $480 engraved, $590 with sidestones

    This engraved Lily can accommodate smaller stones in the petals, and I can use ovals and pears as long as the longest dimension does not exceed the dimensions of the round (that means it cannot be more than 4mm).  Other arrangements of gems are possible.  The outer leaves can be left just engraved.



    c) Large Lily: 4.5mm-5mm, 4mm (works up to 4.3 or 4.4mm), 2mm

    Ring:$660 engraved, $700 with sidestones

    Pendant: $520 engraved, $630 engraved

    This engraved Lily can also handle smaller stones in the petals, as long as they don't exceed 4.4 and 2mm respectively.  I can leave the outer petals just engraved, and I can accommodate different stone shapes, i.e. 4x3 oval or 4x3 pear shape.  I do not recommend 4x2 sizes because they might look too long.

    3. Rosette: Rosette now comes in two pendant sizes:

    a) Round Rosette: 6mm center, 4x3mm and 1.5-1.7mm outer stones.  I can use slightly smaller ovals, the center can be a tad smaller or larger by up to .2mm or so. $800.

    b) Oval Rosette: 7x5mm center, 4x3mm and 1.5-1.7mm outer stones. $780. The photo here just has the layout on top, it's not set yet.

    Happy Designing



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    Earring News: More Ear Wire Options for Exiting New Designs

    Earring News: More Ear Wire Options for Exiting New Designs

    You might have seen some of the new leverbacks that I offer in my shop - either as stand alone or to be added to another earring design.  So it's time to go over all the options I have, metal colors, and some prices to keep things organized.  (Note that a lot of these prices are new, and therefore higher.) This will help you create more custom pieces, or add to and "edit" some of your existing Cecile Raley Designs.

    As you've probably noticed - in frustration - not all earwires come in all metals.  I wish they did.  The choices in rose gold are especially poor and it is expensive to make leverbacks from scratch.  So there's just one style of leverback and one style of French Hook (also called shepherd's hook).  On the other hand, you can always make a design in mixed metals and then wear it with different pieces of jewelry.

    So let's go over some styles and options:

    Shepherd's Hook or French Hook.  This is the kind that has the little ball in the front, or sometimes it's just a hook with a loop in the front.  I carry two styles, but I recommend the one that is longer in the back because it is less likely to fall out.  On the other hand, the shorter one costs a lot less.



    Left: Larger French Hook (comes in 14 yellow, pink, white): $120

    Right: Smaller French Hook (comes in 14 yellow, pink, white): $50

    Leverback. My favorite style of leverback and the one I use the most is the Oval Leverback style.  That style is a little heavier, and the dangle hangs below the ear instead of in front.  I think that's a very elegant style.  Sadly it doesn't come in rose gold, so I have to use a regular leverback instead.  I also like the interchangeable leverback because it saves money, but that doesn't come in rose or white gold for some reason.  For an interchangeable wire in those metals, I would have to either buy kidney wire (white gold) or bend my own kidney wire (rose gold).  In white or yellow gold I can also offer a more lightweight oval-ish leverback that is a little cheaper.  And while I don't feature these in my store, I can easily source leverbacks with an incorporated basket setting (in yellow or white gold only), or I can make one and incorporate any part of mine that works, i.e. the kite, petal, or fan.

    Oval Leverback (comes in 14 Yellow, White): $100

    Smaller Leverback (comes in 14 White, Yellow): $75 

    Interchangeable Leverback (comes in silver, 14 Yellow): $90 in 14 yellow

    Rose Gold Leverback (the only one we can offer): $120

    Hoops. For now, I can only offer hoops in white and yellow gold.  I have two styles in the shop, but I can easily get the very simple ones, which could also be used as an interchangeable ear wires.  For anything but the simple hoops, however, I need to attach larger jump rings on the top of the earring so they slide through.  Alternatively I can dangle regular earrings from the little jump ring below.  One worry with the simple endless hoops is that they can open and then the earring falls out (it's happened).

    The hoop styles I have right now are engraved (not by me), simple hoop (in white gold only), and one with 1.3mm gems set in them.  Those are the most expensive. They don't allow millgrain (the walls are too thin to apply it) but you wouldn't really see it anyway so it can easily be combined with another design that has millgrain on it. 


     Hoop with Gems (comes in 14 yellow and white gold): $420 with diamonds, $350 without gems but with setting cost included.


    Engraved Hoop (comes in 14 white and yellow): $140

    Note. I've experimented with plating silver and white gold with rose gold, but the result oxidizes over time and that looks quite ugly.  So for now I do not recommend it. Black rhodium I can do however, if anyone's interested.

    Happy Designing!

    Note that starting in Mid-May, our earring prices will increase.  We've observed an increase in some of our findings and our casting costs, so we have to overhaul what we charge.

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