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Custom design vs Luxury jewelry pieces

Mkyjc369

Rough_Rock
Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
57
Hi everyone!
Long time listener, first time caller here. I’ve read so many posts here over the years and enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful pieces people have shared. I’ve only done a handful of custom jewelry projects so far and I’m wondering how others in this community approach custom design and shopping.

How do you decide, and what factors do you weigh when deciding to do a custom jewelry project? It’s often not cheap and for the same cost or a little more you could invest in signed jewelry pieces from luxury jewelry brands.

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts!
 

LilAlex

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
872
Custom if you have the unmounted stone in hand or have a unique design or vision in mind.

I'd go antique/vintage/estate/pre-owned next for bang-for-the-buck. The world is an infinite catalog!

"New" colored-stone jewelry is lowest on my wish list -- unless it were from a truly top-tier house and that would be unaffordable for us.

There are a few one-off vendors that painstakingly source top "old" stones to re-mount and we are fortunate to have one of those in our city.
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,081
For me, assuming I don’t have a stone in hand to set, I like to look at the underlying components of a jewelry piece - eg amount of gold, caratage of stones etc. to try and break down the price of a jewelry piece into its constituents (materials, labour/craftsmanship, brand, after-sale services). With signed pieces, the brand is what drives the price. This doesn’t mean that a signed piece isn’t worth it, if you like the design then by all means you pay the extra cost if it is distinctive enough. But I rarely do, so for me custom (or buying something already made) from a vendor is usually the best value for money. It comes down to what you value more/most in your jewelry. I value the cost of materials quite a lot, so it would be hard for me to “overpay” unless I thought the design or the brand value was enough to justify it. But I also get all my jewelry made in a place with low labour costs, so the value of custom pieces isn’t insanely high.
 

Ionysis

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
472
I like >75% of the cost of my jewellery to be the stones and gold. Only if a design was particularly unique or special and I couldn’t recreate it with my own stones and bench then I’d pay for the branded piece.

I’m the same with clothes. I don’t like buying a plain white t shirt from a luxury brand because 80% of the cost is in the label. But I’d pay for a designer gown because you simply cannot find anything the same cheaply or make it yourself.

I’m lucky to live in a country where custom work isn’t prohibitively expensive.
 

Mkyjc369

Rough_Rock
Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
57
@LilAlex @AllAboardTheBlingTrain @Ionysis thank you guys for your thoughts on this! Super interesting. How do you factor in resale opportunities or do you think about it at all? Luxury brands like VCA for example holds their value pretty well and you can often get back close to what you put in. With custom pieces, depending on the stones used I wonder if they’d hold up in the resale market?
I don’t plan on selling any of my custom pieces but I do often consider it as a factor when I’m deciding between a custom project or purchasing a luxury jewelry piece.
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,081
@LilAlex @AllAboardTheBlingTrain @Ionysis thank you guys for your thoughts on this! Super interesting. How do you factor in resale opportunities or do you think about it at all? Luxury brands like VCA for example holds their value pretty well and you can often get back close to what you put in. With custom pieces, depending on the stones used I wonder if they’d hold up in the resale market?
I don’t plan on selling any of my custom pieces but I do often consider it as a factor when I’m deciding between a custom project or purchasing a luxury jewelry piece.

I honestly never think about resale because I’m not planning on ever selling my pieces unless it’s like a straight up emergency. I’d rather pass them on to my kids and have them remake them to their style if they don’t want to wear them as is. Since I only spend a portion of my “fun money” and otherwise have savings and investments I hope (fingers crossed and all prayers said) that I should never be in a position where I NEED to sell.
 

LilAlex

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
872
How do you factor in resale opportunities or do you think about it at all?

I really don't. Best bet for resale, imo, is antique/vintage (with period-appropriate elements), an untreated stone, and a reputable report. Absent that, it's probably pennies on the dollar (dimes if you're lucky!) if you try to private-sell it.
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Messages
8,384
The signed pieces/branded jewellery that I really like are all out of my reach, and do not fit into my lifestyle.

My EC diamond ring may not be a signed piece, however, it has a bigger and better colour and clarity stone and bigger melees in the halo, and about half the price of a Tiffany EC ring with a micro paved halo and an inferior specs smaller stone!

This is just one example of why I go custom, compounded by specific requirements in setting preferences such as bezel set centre stone, plain shank and as low as possible.

DK :))
 

Ionysis

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 1, 2015
Messages
472
I disagree about branded pieces tending to hold their value. It highly depends on what you buy.

I tend to invest in high quality, rare gemstones bought as close to source as possible. Substantially under retail or even second hand value. The value in my jewellery box is therefore based on “true value” of the components, not a label. I’m much happier with that than paying for some brand name.
 

lilmosun

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 30, 2014
Messages
1,822
To me, comparing the two options is like comparing apples and oranges.

- Go with a luxury brand if you want the signature look/design, workmanship and/or services associated with the brand.

- Go custom if you want to create a one of a kind piece made to your specifications (but also to some degree your risk on the end result).

For me, it's the latter because most of my pieces are untreated colored stones which make them unicorns to start with. Some here love the design phase to get their pieces exactly right and are great at it (me not so much, lol).

The cost for my custom pieces are nowhere near what a luxury piece would cost for the same. Prices for custom work can vary. Here on PS you can find vendors who do surprisingly affordable custom work.

There are a pieces from luxury brands I would love to own but putting that kind of money into something that is not one-of-a-kind holds me back...even more so when you see people wearing knock offs.

There is no long-term guarantee on resale value as it's subject to the whims of the market. Yes, some luxury brands hold their value better than others. Stones are rare until more get found/mined. Price of gold goes up and down.

Jewelry is never an investment...buy what you love.
 
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