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Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my GF?

SeekingClarity

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Hello, PS. I've found myself in a state of confusion again and I'm hoping you all can offer some advice and feedback.

Based on all the feedback that the regulars offer to "rough rocks" like myself, the best way to propose is to involve one's partner in the ring selection process. Coincidentally, while I was busy scouring PS and visiting jewelers, my girlfriend was also learning about rings herself from a recently engaged friend, and her tastes have evolved while I've been planning. The other weekend she found a design that she claimed to be "the most beautiful". It was at this point that I decided against the Gabriella setting from Victor--which I had initially picked based on other hints she's dropped and feedback from her friend--and thought I would have him custom make a unique ring inspired by the local design as I'd already been speaking to him about the Gabriella.

The dilemma that I'm now facing is whether to proceed with having Victor custom make a ring (nothing has been started) or have the local shop set the diamond I've purchased from VC (assuming, of course, that they do set 3rd party stones).

I'm leaning towards having the local jeweler set the stone, as I know my girlfriend really likes their setting. The idea of going custom is also a bit daunting to me. However, I really like the fact that Victor hand makes everything to a remarkable standard and would turn out a beautiful interpretation in his own right. I'm also slightly concerned about the quality of the local bench, as they did mention the ring is cast and then the stone is hand set, but perhaps that's perfectly acceptable (they have been around since the 50's...)? Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely), the local design would be cheaper than a ring from Victor. And there would be an added benefit of being able to resize the ring locally too, if required. It also feels like having the local jeweler set the stone is the "right" thing to do, even though I would not ask Victor to replicate a design but create his own interpretation, it was the local design that has started me down this path in the first place.

I have a feeling the consensus will be to go with the setting my girlfriend has really expressed interest in (as she will be wearing it every day!), particularly after distilling this post into a subject, and also to support the local jeweler, though am curious to hear any feedback at all.

TIA,
SC
 

farrahlyn

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Most here will tell you that VC is a superior product. and they may be correct! it is not always in your benefit to go with a local jeweler in terms of quality and end product. However, i do feel that using a local jeweler that is known for their quality of work is a great option. Especially if your intended has SEEN the setting and loves it as is. But make sure that you do due diligence and look into past work, the durability of the setting, if your setting has pave, how durable it is, are people constantly replacing stones, etc.

there have been some really awful posts on here of people that have used a local jeweler and have had horrid outcomes. But there are others with great outcomes, mine included. My DH had a local jeweler (who is WELL known in the area for their custom work) create a custom setting for an e-ring upgrade last year and it's spectacular. It has 2 sided pave, have worn it daily for a year with no lost pave. I really don't think there is a right or wrong answer until you can look into the quality of the jewelers' work.
 

diamondseeker2006

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

There's not a single local bench in my larger metropolitan area that I would even consider having make me a ring. Show the design idea to Victor and he can make something in superior quality. We are usually going to say to go with the style ring the girl wants, but we aren't usually going to say to have a ring made by a local bench (unless you happen to be local to a handful of ringmakers like we know of here).

Actually, show us what the ring looks like first.
 

Niel

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

It's her ring get her what she has told you she wants.
 

SeekingClarity

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Virtually the only feedback I've seen on this jeweler is the following from a post back in 2012. They specialize in pink diamonds, which I understand are much more expensive, so perhaps their bench should be of good quality? The setting I'm considering is a simple solitaire with no pave. I'm not even sure if they'll take a 3rd party stone yet and if they do, whether it will be insured. Frankly, I'm a bit nervous about handing over a diamond to be set if it's not insured!

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/little-help-princess-or-round.182168/

Mondial by Neuman are a good company, but really only deal with D-F colour IF-VS2 diamonds, which didnt work for me. Quality of settings was excellent. Price was ok, not super competitive tho. Specialise in pink diamonds.
I thought it was quite interesting that the jeweler didn't come up at all when I first asked about Australian jewelers vs. buying overseas. (I am located in Sydney.)

I don't have a photo of the ring itself, but was able to draw a very crude picture from memory. Will try and upload that if that helps...
 

arkieb1

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Which jeweller is it and I will give you an honest description of the differences between them if I know them or have seen their work, and what type of setting does she want?
 

SeekingClarity

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

The jeweler is Mondial and it's a 6-prong trellis style setting without anything complicated like a halo or pave. Though the prongs sort of interlace to form the basket. Would really appreciate a comparison between the two if you're able to, arkieb1!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

PintoBean

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Have you showed your GF VC's website to see if there is anything that she fancies from his current catalog? Since you are already getting the diamond from VC, it's easier to make the purchase a one stop shop. If you take the diamond from VC and have your local jeweler set it, don't forget to insure it yourself before having your local jeweler set the stone.
 

Niel

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

I would not pay his high price on top of import fees of she LOVES a local one. I guess I don't get why you would have him make something similar but his own design if she already told you she wanted an exact ring that you could get.

Some people here will suggest vc for everything, I'm inclined to disagree with the need for his services here.
 

lovedogs

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Niel|1472574684|4071469 said:
I would not pay his high price on top of import fees of she LOVES a local one. I guess I don't get why you would have him make something similar but his own design if she already told you she wanted an exact ring that you could get.

Some people here will suggest vc for everything, I'm inclined to disagree with the need for his services here.
Do you have a pic of the setting she likes? My advice (in general) is to always go with what your intended loves, as she will be the one wearing it every day. Of course VC has excellent quality, but in this case I don't think it'll be necessary to pay so much (as Neil pointed out above) if there's something local she loves. Of course there are exceptions to this (if she loves something that's very poorly made, from a jeweler who is known to have poor quality, etc), which is why I think it would help if she can see the setting. But in general, assuming this local jeweler is good and has made this design before, I'd go that route.
 

JMK

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Would you be open to asking her to choose which option she would prefer?

When my boyfriend decided a few weeks ago he wanted to have an engagement (we were just going to elope and skip to being married), he said "I want to get you a ring, but I want you to choose it." I had told him about a friend of mine who hates her engagement ring and instead wears an eternity band she bought herself, and I think I said during that conversation "Surprise proposals are fine, surprise rings are not!". PriceScope taught me well...

Regarding custom work, I have had a number of custom things made over the years (jewelry, furniture, horse trailers, leather items), and with the exception of only two items none have been perfectly executed. It may be unreasonable, but I expect a custom item, especially very expensive custom items, to be perfect. I've learned what works better for me is something "off the shelf" that I can see and feel and know I like (or that is returnable) instead of taking a chance with custom work that I may not 100% love. If I cannot find what I want off the shelf I will go custom, but custom is not necessarily better in my world. I went with a vintage Art Deco ring, and I am very happy with my decision.
 

shaggy1

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Niel said:
I would not pay his high price on top of import fees of she LOVES a local one. I guess I don't get why you would have him make something similar but his own design if she already told you she wanted an exact ring that you could get.

Some people here will suggest vc for everything, I'm inclined to disagree with the need for his services here.
I was just about to post this.

We don't know the local jeweler, and the setting your fiance likes there is cast, not custom-made. So it seems there isn't a valid basis of comparison between the local setting and VC.

I would get her the setting that she has fallen in love with.
 

Ariadne_Theia

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Just wanted to add another vote for getting your girlfriend the one she wants.
 

SeekingClarity

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. As expected, a number of members have recommended letting her choose or going with the design she already likes.

She has only been to a couple B&M shops locally here in Sydney and hasn't seen VC's website (or the likes of Steven Kirsch, Erika Winters, etc.). As I've already bought the diamond from VC, it would certainly simplify some aspects to have him do the ring, though customization always adds further complications.

I have no idea how jewelry insurance works--time to call my insurer. Is it normal to use a jewelry specific policy or to put it under home contents? Does this typically cover having it set as well?

As a quick update, I've spoken with the local jeweler and it seems like they can set a third party stone under two conditions: 1) it must be certified (they have not heard of AGS which was a bit concerning to me) and 2) I would have to sign a disclaimer taking responsibility for any damage during the setting process (they did mention this is more likely to be an issue with an emerald or pearl than with a diamond). The price would also be much higher for the setting only, though this makes sense given they are not making a profit on the stone itself.

Before making a final decision, it would be incredibly helpful to know if you have any feedback on Mondial, arkieb1. As an Aussie with a VC piece, it would give me much more confidence in going with the local shop, knowing they are arkieb1-approved!
 

diamondseeker2006

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Let me reiterate that we ALL want her to have the exact design that she wants. He has already bought a diamond from Victor so it would be easier for him to set it as he would cover the diamond for damage and the finished ring would be what the OP is insuring. Some insurance will not cover an unset stone, so it is important to find out that part. However, there is no way Victor or anyone else can know what the ring looks like without a picture. I am assuming this is not a totally original design, but if it is, it is best to have the original designer make it.

That said, I think it is really kind of unfair if she has seen few rings not to show her Victor's site and let her see if she still prefers the local ring over his rings.
 

LLJsmom

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

If she prefers local over VC, no problem. But at least be fair to her and fully inform her before she makes a decision.

#1 Show her VC's website so she can at least make her decision fully informed. And show her the thread on PS with all of Victor's pieces.

#2 I would personally feel VERY uncomfortable signing anything that says the setter is NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE. "2) I would have to sign a disclaimer taking responsibility for any damage during the setting process." If it gets damaged during the process, whose responsibility would it be, if not the setter's? I have not ever done that for any of my custom pieces and would never sign such an agreement, and would not work with anyone who required me to do so. (Victor didn't.) To me, that just states that they are not taking responsibility.

#3 How much higher is the cost than just the setting? Of course it is fair for them to charge for the labor of the setting. However, it is not fair to charge you significantly more for the setting just because you are not buying the stone from them. VC gives a 10% (I think. YOu know better since you have been talking to VC.) discount on the setting if you buy both from him. Are you being charged more than a 10% premium on your setting? I would not go with any jeweler that does that because I don't like being treated unfairly.

#4 I do like the idea of a one stop shop, with any vendor. So get both done by VC appeals to me. And you have confidence he will take care of both pieces, and not claim "Hey, it's not my fault the diamond chipped while I was setting it!!" if something happens.

#5 If you go with the local setter, how much more are you paying, compared to VC? If your GF likes VC's setting (a BIG IF) and if the difference is not huge (everyone's definition of huge is different I understand), the higher cost for VC would be worth it because I want a hand forged piece. Sorry, my bias is showing regarding this point since I do have a beautiful setting that he made, and I don't know the quality of your local setter. It could be just as nice. I won't argue.
 

lage

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Condensed response: I like the idea that others have suggested - show her VC's site and his work on pricescope. Expose her to the superior beauty and quality of his work. If she still likes the style of the local settings, she could work with VC to create a custom piece with the design elements she desires, but with the quality of his artistic eye and craftsmanship.

Background story: My husband proposed with a stone, I chose the setting from a local jeweler, it did not stand up to daily wear, and lost it's beautiful engraving and several stones over time. After 8 years and exposure to pricescope, we replaced the setting with a custom piece by SK. I love it, will never go back to local jewelers, and now want to replace many of my settings as the inferior craftsmanship is glaring to me. Had I been exposed to the quality and art of SK's and VC's work years ago, I would have gone with one of them initially.
 

MollyMalone

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

LLJsmom|1472604178|4071665 said:
* * *
#2 I would personally feel VERY uncomfortable signing anything that says the setter is NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE. "2) I would have to sign a disclaimer taking responsibility for any damage during the setting process." If it gets damaged during the process, whose responsibility would it be, if not the setter's? I have not ever done that for any of my custom pieces and would never sign such an agreement, and would not work with anyone who required me to do so. (Victor didn't.) To me, that just states that they are not taking responsibility.
* * *
That's a very common policy when a jeweler is being asked to set an "outside" stone -- e.g., 6 months ago, Victor himself declined to assume responsibility while setting the stone laurenk purchased from Jewels by Grace:
[URL='https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/insurance-help-pease-la.219799/']https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/insurance-help-pease-la.219799/[/URL]

Which is why Jewelers Mutual makes a big deal about the fact that they offer coverage to consumers while a loose stone is being set (the only US company, so far as I know, who offers that possibility with a personal jewelry policy).

But JM isn't an insurer for Seeking Clarity's consideration, should the solitaire mounting from the local jeweler be the winner, because JM doesn't issue policies to anyone other than residents of US and Canada. arkie -- and other PSers in Australia -- do you know of an Australian company that offers personal jewelry insurance with that feature?
 

misskittycat

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Mondial are fine. They make really solid pieces and their work is good. I haven't bought from them (as they are really quite pricey compared with overseas vendors, even with the dollar being as low as it is). But they stock excellent quality gems. You would get a lovely ring from them.

They do set outside stones - a friend had her reset done there - so it's worth asking just in case their policy has changed over the last few years. Of course they are going to want to sell you one of their stones, however....
 

misskittycat

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Oh, and we insure all our pieces through Chubb (as QReport) in Australia. They are the only insurer we found who do a cash payout on claims.

http://www.qreport.com.au/
 

misskittycat

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Sorry - just saw you have already spoken with them. If that is their response, then insure the stone yourself - you will need insurance for it anyway.
 

SeekingClarity

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

I really do appreciate all the feedback, so far!

misskittycat|1472609245|4071702 said:
Mondial are fine. They make really solid pieces and their work is good. I haven't bought from them (as they are really quite pricey compared with overseas vendors, even with the dollar being as low as it is). But they stock excellent quality gems. You would get a lovely ring from them.

They do set outside stones - a friend had her reset done there - so it's worth asking just in case their policy has changed over the last few years. Of course they are going to want to sell you one of their stones, however....
That is very reassuring to hear, misskittycat, particularly for someone in the trade!

I've spoken with both my current home contents insurer (NRMA) as well as Q Report (a local jewelry-specific insurance company) to ask about insuring loose diamonds, particularly regarding during the setting process. Both companies said they do not offer that specific coverage and pointed me to the Insurance Council of Australia. I wasn't able to get through to ICOA, but their website only lists the standard banks and major carriers under jewelry insurance. Unless I can get coverage for the loose stone during the setting process, I think I would feel uncomfortable having it set locally, even though that was the direction I was starting to lean.

Are there any other Aussie insurance companies I could look to? It sounds like Q Report is the way to go after-the-fact, but while it is a loose stone being set, it doesn't seem like they can accommodate that.

BTW, I was quoted about a 20-50% premium on the cost of the setting alone for using an outside stone--perhaps this normally absorbed in the margin on a stone? They are asking internally to see whether there is anything they can recommend on insuring the stone during the setting process though.

I also need to speak with Victor to see whether my crude drawing is something he can work with for inspiration. But I don't want to waste his time either if I end up having the ring set locally.
 

misskittycat

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

QReport is the best local jewellery insurer. My personal jeweller usually covers the stone during the setting process so I have never insured an unset stone with them, however.

If they are going to charge you an uplift of 50% for the setting (which wouldn't be a cheap setting to begin with, knowing them) I wouldn't use them. It's designed to get you to buy the stone from them too. I believe they do stock H&A stones (through the brand Forevermark) but I doubt the quality would be as good as Victor and an AGS Super Ideal stone.

Honestly? If it were me, I would get Victor to set the stone. I think it's going to be an easier process... Really.
 

arkieb1

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

With the way our Aussie insurers work & the small saving you will get by buying a stone plus a setting from Victor I'd get something from Victor, no contest. I agree Mondial make good quality solid pieces for here, most of them are beautiful too, but the thing is there are little differences, subtle differences, look on their website or go back in person, their pave isn't as tight, there are small gaps and more metal showing, the prongs are not as fine, their solitaires are not as "fluid" would be the best way I can describe it. Victor's work is sturdy yet gracefully fine in a way most other vendors like this one are not.

If you have never shown her a Victor ring, she can't pick something she likes or indeed without seeing one you can't compare in person. I've taken Victor's rings into Tiffany's and into all the high end jewellers here, and the workmanship doesn't compare. Canturi would be a good comparison to Mondial, probably one step better again, and they make good solid pieces and indeed in it's own right beautiful rings, it's still totally different from something you will get from Victor. There are very very few jewellers that compare with Victor here, they don't have the skills for intricate work that some of the high end US jewellers have, they don't have the equipment and bench people available to them here that they have over there, they produce beautiful things but unless they have been trained overseas it's like they are stuck in a time warp they are using and making styles from 10 years or more ago, not today or if they are making something modern it's like the clunky equivalent of it of really high end US jewellers.

Don't worry about not seeing it, find a couple of rings she likes and either pick out a style of his that is similar or ask him to design something like it for you. Think of it like this, you have the opportunity to get the best of the best, why not take it. And as far as sizes, she was two sizes? Get the smaller of the two. It will be easier and cheaper to size the ring up a little, you just take it to a good jeweller who will stretch it a tiny bit, than it will be to get it sized down, although a good jeweller can do that too without drama. I've done both, it doesn't cost that much.
 

MollyMalone

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

SeekingClarity|1472611554|4071715 said:
* * * I also need to speak with Victor to see whether my crude drawing is something he can work with for inspiration. But I don't want to waste his time either if I end up having the ring set locally.
Since you wouldn't be asking him to make a ring that's in his established design catalog, I imagine you might be expected to pay his $400 charge for producing a design with sketches? There's absolutely nothing wrong imo with charging a design fee (or "service charge" as he calls it in his current FAQs), but if that's not something you have already discussed with Victor, it's another thing to seek clarification on.
 

SeekingClarity

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

arkieb1 said:
With the way our Aussie insurers work & the small saving you will get by buying a stone plus a setting from Victor I'd get something from Victor, no contest. I agree Mondial make good quality solid pieces for here, most of them are beautiful too, but the thing is there are little differences, subtle differences, look on their website or go back in person, their pave isn't as tight, there are small gaps and more metal showing, the prongs are not as fine, their solitaires are not as "fluid" would be the best way I can describe it. Victor's work is sturdy yet gracefully fine in a way most other vendors like this one are not.

If you have never shown her a Victor ring, she can't pick something she likes or indeed without seeing one you can't compare in person. I've taken Victor's rings into Tiffany's and into all the high end jewellers here, and the workmanship doesn't compare. Canturi would be a good comparison to Mondial, probably one step better again, and they make good solid pieces and indeed in it's own right beautiful rings, it's still totally different from something you will get from Victor. There are very very few jewellers that compare with Victor here, they don't have the skills for intricate work that some of the high end US jewellers have, they don't have the equipment and bench people available to them here that they have over there, they produce beautiful things but unless they have been trained overseas it's like they are stuck in a time warp they are using and making styles from 10 years or more ago, not today or if they are making something modern it's like the clunky equivalent of it of really high end US jewellers.

Don't worry about not seeing it, find a couple of rings she likes and either pick out a style of his that is similar or ask him to design something like it for you. Think of it like this, you have the opportunity to get the best of the best, why not take it. And as far as sizes, she was two sizes? Get the smaller of the two. It will be easier and cheaper to size the ring up a little, you just take it to a good jeweller who will stretch it a tiny bit, than it will be to get it sized down, although a good jeweller can do that too without drama. I've done both, it doesn't cost that much.
Thanks for the detailed feedback comparing Mondial, Canturi and Victor! I know there were a few recommendations previously, but do you have a trusted local jeweler you would recommend in Sydney? (I recall that misskittycat recommended Dana Ball at Gary Ball Jewellers for resizing, etc.)

I just heard back from Victor regarding my sketch and he mentioned that the type of style is made from CAD/CAM and it would take significantly longer to fabricate by hand and wouldn't be cost effective to hand forge, so that may not be a realistic option any longer.

It may come down to dealing with insurance risk/anxiety or going with my previous first choice which is still a style I know she likes very much...
 

VRBeauty

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Ask the local jeweler if he/she has a portfolio of their work that they can show you. You'll be able to judge their artistic sensibilities from photos of rings they've made previously. A trellis design is not uncommon, but there are a lot of little details that need to be put together correctly (I'm speaking metaphorically here) so you end up with a cohesive, fluid design. Any competent bench should be able to handle the mechanics of making the ring, but you want to be sure that you're working with an artistically competent bench that can also deliver on the aesthetics.
 

arkieb1

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Post a picture or photo of what you are looking for, or this sketch you have done so we can see and understand what it is you want. Then we can better direct you to who can make it or what is or is not a better option.
 

SeekingClarity

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Please excuse my drawing abilities... and some of it I made up as I went along.




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Gypsy

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Re: Another Dilemma - VC Custom or Local Design Chosen by my

Get the original setting she wants. It's just a solitaire. I sincerely think that's the best way to go.
 
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