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Seeking Advice: First Time Buying a Loose Stone or Created a Ring

SparkleC

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
52
Hello Fellow Lovers of Beautiful Things:

I'm a long, LONG, time lurker making my first post. I've learned so much from this amazing group of folks, who so generously share their wisdom and feedback. Thank you so much!! I'm finally coming out of the shadows to ask for your guidance.

In the not too distant future, my Mister will be giving me a ring. I want something very special. We're not getting married so this will be the outward manifestation of our private commitment. Kind of like the world's longest engagement. :lol: I really want to create something unique. The stone will be a blue sapphire. (September is a very special month for us.) The setting will be yellow gold.

I've started a file of blue sapphires that represent the color I want. Sort of an electric blue/royal blue but I learned here that stones will darken when set, so I'm going to need some feedback from y'all when I start seriously looking. I know it has to be certed and I do not care if it is heat treated. Besides a gorgeous, saturated blue, I want good finger coverage, as I'm a bit of a size whore. :lol: I'm afraid to start looking now and get my heart set on something that sells before we're ready.

I've read many of your wonderful stories of creating rings but I'm still not sure how it all works and what I need to know/consider. I have many lovely pieces I've purchased in stores but after reading here for the past year, I believe we can get the best value and design by working through the vendors recommended here. Here are my questions:
  1. Do you have to buy the stone and setting together? Is it insulting to a jewelry to bring them a stone purchased elsewhere and ask them to design a setting for your stone?
  2. Is it appropriate to ask to see the stone in person? I've read stories here where the person is simply getting pictures/videos and other stories where the person had the stone sent to them for their review. If I'm spending several thousand $$ on a stone, I really want to see it first.
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages to buying a premade setting and having the stone set vs. designing the entire project?
  4. I'm not completely sure of what the setting will look like but I envision some diamonds most likely pave. Do I need to supply these as well since I'm providing the center stone or do designers usually have these as part of the tools of their trade?
  5. I know the sapphire needs to be certified, but how do I know that the diamonds are going to be high quality? Is it a matter of trusting the integrity of the designer? I'm assuming you only certify the larger stone.
  6. I know that every project is unique but is there a ballpark figure I should keep in mind regarding the fees to design and make a custom ring?
  7. How long does the process typically take from when you make contact with the designer until when you receive the finished piece?
  8. What pitfalls should I avoid? What do you wish you knew before you started down this path?
If you're still reading, thank you for taking the time to do so! I'm sure I'll have many more questions once we really get started with this process.
 

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Lilith112

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jun 27, 2019
Messages
227
Just FYI, you double posted this thread lol.

Regarding your questions, I've only heard of CecileRaleyDesigns requiring you to buy their stone and setting together; most of the other cutters e.g. Jeff White, Gene of PrecisionGems seem ok with you buying the stone and getting it set elsewhere.

Yes, you can and should see the stone in person. If there's some local gemstone cutters or suppliers nearby, I think it's best to see them in person! If you're shopping over the Internet, make sure they have an excellent return policy and a "viewing" window e.g. 3-7 days for you to see the sapphire and make a decision to keep/return.

For premade setting, it depends on the specific design you want and your sapphire's dimensions. If it can fit into pre-calibrated settings and you like the look, it shouldn't be an issue. I went with custom because I had a specific design/aesthetic in mind and my ring size isn't carried by majority of mainstream size ranges (U.S. 3)

I think the designers can supply the pave/side diamonds. And yes, the quality comes down to trusting the designer more or less (unless you're having 1ct.+ side stones)

Regarding costs/time, it all depends on the designer and the complexity of your design. Mine was USD2000 for the setting and it was completed in 2 weeks. I've heard David Klass is also quite fast, maybe 3 weeks? But I think 6 weeks to 2 months is more typical in terms of timing.
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Messages
4,598
The following are based on my own personal experiences.

Jeff White is my go-to cutter. I just give him an idea of the colour I am after, usually picked from the vast gallery pics he has on his website; provide him with a budget, plus some ideas of shape and size I have in mind.

He would let me know if he has any suitable roughs in stock (he has many) and a price. We would then agree on payment terms as in the amount of deposit required to secure the rough, and monthly payment amount and the number of payments.

He would not cut the stone until full payment has been received. Once cut, he would then ship the stone out to me.

As I am in the UK, returning any imported goods is a hassle. Hence I have accepted the risk and consider my purchases as one-way.

With Jeff, I trust his judgement and cutting.

Depending on the price of the cut stone and payment terms, it varied from one stone to another. He is very busy with commission work, therefore it is worth contacting him as early as possible, and allow for at least 3 months from start to finish.

As for setting, the general advice I found on PS is get the stone first so that is final dimensions are known, before getting the setting.

The reason is that very few commissioned stone are cut to calibrated size that fit ready made stock settings.

My go-to bench is an eBay vendor based in China. They are good for what I am prepared to pay for reasonably well made rings for my stones (from less than 30 to nearly 2k USD so far) and I am not prepared to pay thousands for a stone that cost a small fraction of the setting.

I would provide my contact in China with an inspiration pics or two, along with the dimensions of the stone, plus the spec of the ring I have in mind, as in material, profile/shape of the band, bezel set the centre stone, and ring size etc...

He would arrange for a CAD to be drawn, and then provided me with the cost of having the ring made. The diamonds in the ring setting are included in the price, I can improve the diamond grade, e.g. from H/I SI to G/H VS, by paying more. We would agree on payment terms, up to 3 split payments for a high value ring (this may not be on offer to new customers).

If the CAD acceptable, then I shall send them the required payment. Otherwise the CAD will be modified until I am satisfied with it.

I would ship the stone out to my contact and the ring would be made once full payment has been received. It would be shipped to me when ready. The usual time frame was about a month or two if the ring was paid with just one payment.

There are risks/issues/pitfalls involved in using a Chinese vendor such as mine, and I shall not go into details on here, sorry!

However I have been using this bench since I asked them to make the forever home of my 1.19ct EC E VS1 diamond back in early 2015 (I did not ship the stone to them, and it was removed from its original setting and reset by a local bench in UK), and have had a number of very nice rings made by them.

Hope this helps.

DK :))
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Messages
4,598
As for the budget for the ring setting, the sky is your limit!

Some PSers had pay a lot more on ring settings than the stones themselves. Each to their own at the end of the day.

It depends on the amount of diamonds involved, design details, whether it will be cast or hand forged etc...

I would advise to have a setting budget in mind to avoid disappointment, 3k USD should get you a reasonable setting with paved diamonds in the shank in platinum.

I find trawling through the ring settings on sites such as White Flash very useful, as it gives me some ideas about ring setting costs.

DK :))
 

lovedogs

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 31, 2014
Messages
9,365
Definitely buy the stone first and see it in person before sending it to be set. I would probably use someone like David klass who sets tons of stones for PSers. You have to know what you want with him and be able to describe it (in words or pictures), but he's willing to do multiple CADs until you are satisfied.
 

marymm

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 21, 2010
Messages
3,804
Do you have to buy the stone and setting together? NO. Is it insulting to a jewelry to bring them a stone purchased elsewhere and ask them to design a setting for your stone? NO.

Is it appropriate to ask to see the stone in person? YES. For colored gemstones in particular, you must see the stone in person. I've read stories here where the person is simply getting pictures/videos and other stories where the person had the stone sent to them for their review. If I'm spending several thousand $$ on a stone, I really want to see it first.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to buying a premade setting and having the stone set vs. designing the entire project? Buy the sapphire first. Depending on the dimensions of the stone, you may be able to buy a stock setting but you may also prefer to buy a setting custom-made for your stone.

I'm not completely sure of what the setting will look like but I envision some diamonds most likely pave. Do I need to supply these as well since I'm providing the center stone or do designers usually have these as part of the tools of their trade? Jewelers/designers have access to diamond melee so no need to provide them. That said, I encourage you to ensure the diamond melee is the highest quality you can afford, i.e., F/G-VS ideal-cut-quality

I know the sapphire needs to be certified, but how do I know that the diamonds are going to be high quality? Is it a matter of trusting the integrity of the designer? YES, you must choose a vendor with integrity but also you should be verifying the quality of their settings (check their website for info related to diamond melee quality, check reviews, check the BBB, post here for feedback, etc.) I encourage you to choose a jeweler who has expertise in making the style of setting you want, and one who is well-established with an inventory/gallery demonstrating their craftsmanship. Familiarize yourself with the vendor's store policies, particularly return and custom policies. If you go custom, that usually means no returns except in the case of manufacturing defects.. I'm assuming you only certify the larger stone. Usually only the center stone has a grading report, but if the setting has diamonds 0.20ct or larger, those could be graded too.

I know that every project is unique but is there a ballpark figure I should keep in mind regarding the fees to design and make a custom ring? Your budget is your own decision, but there are differences in setting prices depending on metal (14kt gold versus Platinum) and production (CAD/cast versus hand-forged) and diamond melee quality. If you can post a photo of the kind of setting you prefer, we can give you some input as to price range and recommend reputable vendors who have expertise in that style.

How long does the process typically take from when you make contact with the designer until when you receive the finished piece? If you have a straightforward setting design (let's say a design the jeweler has made several times before) and it is not a busy time of year (holidays), it could be 3-6 weeks depending on jeweler. If your setting is custom and it takes more than one round of designs/CAD, it can take longer. If you need special, custom-cut diamond melee, that takes additional time too.

What pitfalls should I avoid? Find your sapphire first. Keep in mind that blue sapphires of the color you describe are hard to find and on the expensive side. If your timeline is "in the not too distant future," I suggest you start looking now. Photos and videos are helpful but until you have it in your hands, in your house, under your various lighting conditions, you won't really know if it is the right blue sapphire for you. Be sure you work with reputable companies with reasonable return policies. It could take months/more than a year to find your stone. What do you wish you knew before you started down this path? Be sure to visit as many stores as possible and try on as many ring settings as you can -- a design can be beautiful but for some reason just not look good on your finger, or it looks good but now that it's on your finger you know it's not right for you. Also be sure whatever style you choose works with your lifestyle (will you wear it 24/7 or only when you leave the house, do you work with your hands at lot (maybe a bezel is safest choice), is your personal style sense more contemporary or vintage or high-fashion, etc.).
 

chrono

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 22, 2004
Messages
37,004
  1. No, you do not need to buy the stone and setting together. It's perfectly fine to have someone else set your stone BUT most places will not take responsibility if the stone is damaged during the setting process.
  2. It is a MUST to see the stone in person. Stones are shifty and will look different under different light sources. Be sure you like them under conditions that YOU will view them most in.
  3. Pre-made has the benefit for those in a time crunch. Disadvantage is that many skimp on quality. Too many are overlight and melee quality isn't the best. They are also made for standard diamond sizes so a specialty cut, deeper stone or non-calibrated size will not fit. It also limits your stone choices. It is easier to get a setting than to find the right stone.
  4. I would always have the vendor source the right melees. They need to match in colour and size.
  5. For important rings, I work with vendors that use high quality melees. I check for not only the colour and clarity, but cut quality. Melees are very small and do not need to be certified. If they are large side stones of 0.25 and higher, I might look for lab paperwork.
  6. Really can't say as it depends upon too many factors such as quality work and how complex the design is. Definitely read the fine print. There are usually fees for CAD changes.
  7. Once the design is finalized, it is usually completed within a month, unless there's a huge backlog.
  8. It depends on many factors. Some setters don't want you messing around with their design and some vendors are very hands off and it is up to you to tweak every single detail. Pick one that meets your aesthetics. Do not pick one that does antique to do something modern. Check all reviews and see their actual work. Some say they are good at X but on closer inspection, it may not be the quality you are looking for.
 

voce

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
2,114
I think that others have given really good replies. I will say that one thing I'm glad I did was ask my dearest what budget he's comfortable with. Then, I found the best ring for me that stayed around the budget he stated. Whatever your boyfriend's budget is, if you start getting into custom designs, and especially if you go unheated on sapphires, the cost can add up rather quickly, and I'd avoid any situation where you want what you want and have to disagree with the person who's paying for the engagement ring. It's always good to be on the same page throughout this process.
 

minousbijoux

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
12,208
Do you have to buy the stone and setting together? NO. Is it insulting to a jewelry to bring them a stone purchased elsewhere and ask them to design a setting for your stone? NO.

Is it appropriate to ask to see the stone in person? YES. For colored gemstones in particular, you must see the stone in person. I've read stories here where the person is simply getting pictures/videos and other stories where the person had the stone sent to them for their review. If I'm spending several thousand $$ on a stone, I really want to see it first.

What are the advantages and disadvantages to buying a premade setting and having the stone set vs. designing the entire project? Buy the sapphire first. Depending on the dimensions of the stone, you may be able to buy a stock setting but you may also prefer to buy a setting custom-made for your stone.

I'm not completely sure of what the setting will look like but I envision some diamonds most likely pave. Do I need to supply these as well since I'm providing the center stone or do designers usually have these as part of the tools of their trade? Jewelers/designers have access to diamond melee so no need to provide them. That said, I encourage you to ensure the diamond melee is the highest quality you can afford, i.e., F/G-VS ideal-cut-quality

I know the sapphire needs to be certified, but how do I know that the diamonds are going to be high quality? Is it a matter of trusting the integrity of the designer? YES, you must choose a vendor with integrity but also you should be verifying the quality of their settings (check their website for info related to diamond melee quality, check reviews, check the BBB, post here for feedback, etc.) I encourage you to choose a jeweler who has expertise in making the style of setting you want, and one who is well-established with an inventory/gallery demonstrating their craftsmanship. Familiarize yourself with the vendor's store policies, particularly return and custom policies. If you go custom, that usually means no returns except in the case of manufacturing defects.. I'm assuming you only certify the larger stone. Usually only the center stone has a grading report, but if the setting has diamonds 0.20ct or larger, those could be graded too.

I know that every project is unique but is there a ballpark figure I should keep in mind regarding the fees to design and make a custom ring? Your budget is your own decision, but there are differences in setting prices depending on metal (14kt gold versus Platinum) and production (CAD/cast versus hand-forged) and diamond melee quality. If you can post a photo of the kind of setting you prefer, we can give you some input as to price range and recommend reputable vendors who have expertise in that style.

How long does the process typically take from when you make contact with the designer until when you receive the finished piece? If you have a straightforward setting design (let's say a design the jeweler has made several times before) and it is not a busy time of year (holidays), it could be 3-6 weeks depending on jeweler. If your setting is custom and it takes more than one round of designs/CAD, it can take longer. If you need special, custom-cut diamond melee, that takes additional time too.

What pitfalls should I avoid? Find your sapphire first. Keep in mind that blue sapphires of the color you describe are hard to find and on the expensive side. If your timeline is "in the not too distant future," I suggest you start looking now. Photos and videos are helpful but until you have it in your hands, in your house, under your various lighting conditions, you won't really know if it is the right blue sapphire for you. Be sure you work with reputable companies with reasonable return policies. It could take months/more than a year to find your stone. What do you wish you knew before you started down this path? Be sure to visit as many stores as possible and try on as many ring settings as you can -- a design can be beautiful but for some reason just not look good on your finger, or it looks good but now that it's on your finger you know it's not right for you. Also be sure whatever style you choose works with your lifestyle (will you wear it 24/7 or only when you leave the house, do you work with your hands at lot (maybe a bezel is safest choice), is your personal style sense more contemporary or vintage or high-fashion, etc.).
Well done, Marymm, great answers!
 

AV_

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Messages
2,372
You remind me of a very large stone at the light end of the classical blue - WWW, this is barely 4 carats!

The shop is somewhat if an institution.

Thinking out loud
 

SparkleC

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
52
OMG! thank you all so so much for your thoughtful and informative answers. Based on everyone's feedback I will confirm budget, definitely see the stone in person, buy the sapphire first and then work on the setting. I'll be consulting all of you as the project proceeds!!

I'm somewhat limited on local brick and mortar options for trying on different styles. I live in a small town in South Dakota. There's one jeweler in town that I've heard good things about. I need to check him out. I'd have to travel 3 hours north or south just to get to a larger city and even then, those places are pretty small! But this is very good advice so I'll definitely do some research on how things look on me IRL.

Thanks again for the great information!!

PS: sorry for the double post. First time out of the gate and I goof up my first post! DUH!!!:lol::roll::lol:
 

SparkleC

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
52
You remind me of a very large stone at the light end of the classical blue - WWW, this is barely 4 carats!

The shop is somewhat if an institution.

Thinking out loud
OH YES!!!! That color is just gorgeous! Definitely in line with the color I want. At just under 4 carats it's probably a bit out of my price range, but a girl can dream, right? When I click on the link, it goes to a picture of the stone but there's no connection to the shop. Can you tell me where it came from?
 
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AV_

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Messages
2,372
@SparkleC This is the shop: https://www.cushiongem.com/ That one sapphire is huge for its weight, not that four carats is little. The colour would be good in any size.

Sapphire comes in every blue & just about all else, it is fun to see more of what comes out of a mine WWW


2c
 
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