Monday, April 13, 2009

How to Find the Perfect Jewelry Designer to Create Your Handmade Bridal Jewelry

(Written by: Harmony Scott)

"Couture" vs. "Costume" for your Wedding Jewelry

Designer, handmade jewelry is such a wonderful choice for your wedding day. Why not wear a work of art that will express your personal style? Handmade, quality jewelry doesn't have to be expensive...you just need to be a smart shopper. It is quite possible to find a jeweler who creates gorgeous, unique jewelry with exotic gemstones and pearls set in silver or gold. "Real" jewelry can be surprisingly affordable, yet still carries lasting value. This can be the one item from your wedding (besides the ring) that you will wear over and over through the years. Handmade, designer jewelry made especially to compliment your wedding day will continue to be enjoyed into the future, and may even become a sentimental heirloom for your children or family members.

Swarovski crystals and faux pearl bridal jewelry are (sadly) everywhere, and often cost just as much as their far more fabulous and "real" counterparts. So why not choose "couture" over "costume" and celebrate your unique sense of style and beauty? I hope you will take a moment to read these tips, and find the ideal jewelry artist to create your perfect handmade wedding jewelry!

Where to Start

Start researching at least four months before your wedding date, so you won't be rushed. As soon as you have found your wedding dress you are ready to find your jewelry. When choosing a jewelry designer, make sure you are familiar with their style and price range. Start with a little research on jewelers in your area, ask your friends for recommendations, and clip photos in magazines of attractive styles. I particularly like Lucky and InStyle magazines for their variety and price range. If you want something very specific, it is always best to find a jeweler nearby that you can meet with face to face. Otherwise, email makes it pretty easy to refine your search and communicate with your designer of choice.

Websites are a great resource. Spend some time online where you can browse and educate yourself at your leisure. The more specific your search keywords, the more refined your results will be. Use keywords like "bridal jewelry" or "wedding jewelry" along with "freshwater pearl", "semi-precious gemstones", "affordable handmade jewelry", "handmade designer jewelry", "sterling silver", and "gold." It is helpful to narrow the field of choices by searching for specific gemstones or materials you like (like moonstone, topaz, amethyst, or pink freshwater pearls) or styles that attract you (like "Victorian", "Edwardian" or "Antique"). One useful website is www.thefind.com. It is basically a shopping search engine that organizes your results by price or search-term relevance, and best of all, it has little thumbnail photos of each piece so you can see if you like the item before you click through to the specific website.

Once you have a few good design candidates, make an appointment to speak with each jeweler on your list in person, by phone or via email. Bring in or email photos of your dress (preferably with you in it), have a clear budget and time frame, and be sure to communicate any other important details that will give the designer a good idea of your desires and expectations.

Buyer Beware

Steer clear of any jeweler who pushes you towards a design that is not your taste or is too expensive. It is one thing for a designer to educate you about the jewelry they create, but don't let someone sweet-talk you into a design that you don't really love or can't afford. This is a big red flag, and the best course of action is to go somewhere else. Also, don't let your sister's best friend guilt you into wearing a necklace she "designed" just because she can string beads in a row. This is your day, and you should have it your way! You deserve to work with a professional who takes their craft, reputation, and customer service seriously. With a little effort you can find a talented designer who creates jewelry you love, listens to your needs, caters to your budget, and treats you with the respect and honesty you deserve.

Budget Minded

Once you have found your jeweler of choice, you can trim your expenses by purchasing a design that is currently available for sale in their line, or by asking the designer to repeat or make small changes to a style they have created previously. This will help save money since the artist will not have to create something from scratch especially for you, and the price should be more reasonable. If you do want something made specifically for you, expect to pay more, and in some cases the increased expense can be significant. This is because the designer will have to take much more time and care to create a look that is exactly what you want, and may have to create and re-create the piece several times to get it just right. Always get an estimate first before any work has started to avoid any nasty surprises! Its best to be upfront with your budget, most jewelry designers will appreciate your candor and be able to guide you to your ideal look and price range.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips! Best wishes on finding the perfect jewelry designer to suit your specific style, budget, and desires for your special day.

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