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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How to Get Inspired

How to Get Inspired

With spring just around the corner and winter being ridiculously mild this year, it's time to think about some inspiration for jewelry and wedding season. Here are some tricks and tips of how I come up with new ideas.

To me, there are two main inspirations for jewelry: shapes and colors. That's all there is to it, really. I occasionally look at other jewelry, but it's less often than you might think. The only kind of jewelry I really look at is antique stuff, mainly art deco, but again it's about how they work with shapes. So for instance, the hexagon shape is often seen in art deco center stone settings. A related pattern one often sees is the honeycomb pattern. Buccellati uses that very often.

Once you have the basic shape, you can come up with endless variations and iterations, which you can apply to other ideas: hexagon eternity, hexagon bar pendant, hexagon V-shape, hexagon dangly or stud earrings.


You can do the same with the fan and kite shape, which again was a basic shape I saw in antique jewelry, largely used in much bigger pieces than mine. The petal shape I have was originally part of a Victorian flower earring, which I expanded into first the sunflower ring, then the Camellia, and after that the Lily concepts. I did this simply by changing the center stone and by layering the petals.


The Gatsby design also uses 3 petals, just more drawn out ones.


This gives the trillion shape, which is not that pleasing to the eye in my view, a more rounded look. And finally, adding petals to the marquis shape can make it look less elongated.To play with these shapes yourself to make more elaborate earrings or necklaces, just take a piece of paper and start drawing. For earrings, most of these styles can be posts from which something can be dangled, or they can be incorporated into a leverback. They can be right side up, or upside down. Necklaces and bracelets can be done eternity style, necklaces can look like lariats with various pieces dropping down from the chain. Rings are a bit more difficult but if you consider that your finger is only so wide, that rings can only be so thick and that height also matters, you are half way there.

For color, I barely even look at other jewelry at all. Oddly, I find that most jewelry doesn't use color in a very inspiring way. Art deco doesn't use color at all - or hardly any. A much better place to get inspired with colors is by looking at fabrics: shirts, scarves, but also socks, pillows and carpets, table cloths and even napkins often have really fun color combinations. All of these are far more inspiring to me than jewelry.The hard part is to come up with gems that match those colors. There are far more shades of colors out there than gems, but some gems, i.e. sapphire and spinel, also offer oodles of shades to play with. So much so that matching two can drive you to madness.
In fact, so many gemstones come in various shades: tourmaline covers almost the entire green spectrum for instance, and Mexican fire opal offers a lot of warm reds and oranges. The dichroism of certain gems, notably unheated tanzanite, kornerupine and sphene, can also lend itself to tie other colors together. Sphene often goes well with green and orange for that reason, or even with red and sometimes pink.

There are some colors, the neon turquoise of paraiba for example, that can live next to just about any other color and be happy, while there are others, notably hauyne and Russian demantoid, that like all the attention and refuse to share. Sometimes this is surprising - I wasn't expecting it with either of these gems. But therein also lies the fun, because just with these two simple concepts, color and shape, you can open up just about the entire world of design.
Below are some more inspiration photos. A gallery with past designs is coming to this website soon!

Meanwhile, you can also check out our boards on Pinterest.

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What if You Could Design it Yourself? Well, You Can!

Bear with me for this introductory anecdote. At my first Vegas show, in May 2015, I bumped into a Frenchmen at the "meet and greet" event, both of us trying to trade the JCK coupon for a glass of free wine at the overcrowded bar (lesson learned about "free" stuff). Anyway, Jean Jacques, that's his name, and I got talking and he told me he was at the event to find if there was interest in a "design... Continue reading

Your Custom Order Step By Step

I guess it should have been obvious: the more gems I list, the more custom orders I get. In turn, there are more and more little details to keep track of every day. Some orders are really fast, others take forever, and if any mistake creeps in we start over - if a stock item is made in the wrong metal or with the wrong stone we just list it that way, obviously that's not gonna work with a custom... Continue reading

Working With Color

As you all know, working with colored gems is my specialty.  I love figuring out which colors go together, come up with crazy combos, and matching them to the right metal.  And I often get the following response: "I would NEVER have come up with that combo."

Actually, coming up with the right color combination is not as hard as you think. Here are some pointers for how to do it, followed by some of... Continue reading
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