As someone in the field of gemology, I believe in the energy of metals and stones. The properties of these beautiful rocks made by Mother Nature come with the same purity and vulnerable qualities that we are all comprised of. This same energy plays an important role in the creative process as well as the overall client experience. What I have learned along the way is that my happiest customers and best pieces have been a result of relationships built on positivity and dynamic energy shared by all involved.
When a client comes to me with a project, it is most often a collaboration, I do my best to create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing with me their ideas and expectations. This helps avoid the introduction of angst- the artist’s nemesis! Bottom line: it is paramount that not only the jewelry be fabulous, but that the entire experience is positive from start to finish.
As an artist, I actively look to avoid stressful situations that may impact how the piece is achieved. Bottom line: when my customers are collaborative and upbeat, I feed off of that energy and it shows in the finished product.
Of course not every situation is ideal and there are ways we can overcome a little negativity together. Let’s say a client, “Kate,” has wanted to re-design her engagement ring for several years, but has put it off. She has a hard time envisioning her perfect ring and has convinced herself that she is not creative. Kate may ask, “How will I know what style I’m looking for without trying it on?”
Finding the answers are all part of the design process. It’s about sitting down with a customer, building a relationship, learning their taste, and discovering exactly who they are. Often, that also includes uncovering what someone may dislike as well.
Working together can really produce incredibly energy that leaves many of our “Kates” at J Briggs & Co wearing their gorgeous new rings, saying, “I definitely should have done this sooner.”
As your expert explorer at envisioning that perfect new piece, I love creating fine jewelry with good vibes. Come in and share yours with me.
Here is an example of the remounting process I did for a customer:
Various pieces were given by the customer to merge into a re-mount project.
After conversations and exploring their style, I draw sketches of that best capture what the customer is looking for.
A life-like rendering of different angles comes back to show customer what to expect. After any edits are made, a casting mold is then taken.
A gorgeous finished design is born!
With no shortage of stores and independent jewelers to purchase your precious gems and jewelry from, how can you know that who you are working with is truly the professional they say they are?
Here are four tips to tuck away when your jewels are on the table:
1. Pushiness: Have you ever felt the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you enter a jewelry store, like an antelope amongst cheetahs? Many larger stores are commission-driven, with inventory they need to sell right out of the case and quotas to fulfill. If you are leaning toward one-of-a-kind or custom, you may consider switching it up this time. An excellent alternative is to sit down with a trained designer & gemologist to help you bring your jewelry to life instead of settling with a mass-produced piece, often not made in the USA. A salesperson will certainly offer to make your jewelry, but most salespeople are not seasoned designers or certified gemologists!
2. Full disclosure: When you invest in jewelry, your questions should be answered honestly and accurately. Is your amethyst lab-created or treated? What is the quality of the diamond or gem? Are you leaving with assurance that your jewelry is of the quality that you paid for?
*This is where the gemologist in me has to insert a sidebar. I implore you to take extreme caution if you have your heart set on buying fine jewelry on a cruise or tourist destination outside the US. The standards and regulations that protect the buyer in the US do not apply in many other countries. Despite how fancy the place appears or what the nice salespeople in port will tell you, you most likely are not getting a deal. Even worse, you may be getting something completely different than what you think ~ and the salesperson is not worried because they are pretty sure they will never see you again! And that phone number they give you to (often a US number), is just another sales tactic.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
3. Stone-switching: When you take your beautiful diamond engagement ring to be cleaned — the one that your husband carefully chose for you and put on your finger on your wedding day — are you comfortable leaving it to chance that your stone will be the one returned to you? It happens. We want to assume the best in everyone, but when you hear the story of a disreputable jeweler, it gives the industry a bad rap. Take some time to get to know the character of the person you are working with.
4. Expertly Trained: What makes your jeweler an expert? Look for — and ask for — signs of certification of their industry experience to feel comfortable that this isn’t just another career stop. Working with a designer who is an artist over just a one-stop-shop can produce a truly exquisite piece that will become heirloom jewelry to enjoy for years to come.
Jennifer Briggs Jenkins
Bachelor of Fine Art, Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design
Certified Gemologist, Gemological Institute of America