F A Q

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Where did you learn how to do this stuff?

I’m primarily self-taught as far as carving and technique go, having never studied art or gone to school to learn jewelry-making. Years ago, I worked a summer in a tiny jewelry shop in Texas and saw casting for the first time. This pretty much blew my mind and my boss gave me a chunk of wax and a broken dental tool to play with. I toodled around for many years thereafter, making a few wedding bands for friends and family along the way. I very randomly got a stint carving custom waxes for a fancy jewelry shop in Palo Alto, which was where it occurred to me that live actual money could be made from this sort of thing. In 2012 I decided to try Etsy, and the rest is history.

I also have a graduate gemologist degree from GIA, which is more academic gem stuff like diamond and colored stone identification and grading. It is indispensable for scrutinizing stones I want to buy or that my clients send me. My binocular microscope is one of my favorite studio tools.

How do I go about getting a custom-designed ring made?

Detailed answer is HERE. Shorter summary: We start out by gathering ideas: motifs, overall size specifics, metal preferences, stone or no stone, etc. and I begin to make sketches. I can send these to you, adjust, resketch, until we have a design set. Then I can make a final quote (actually, I can give you an idea of ballpark price as soon as I have a general idea of what you have in mind) and invoice you for a deposit. I usually do 1/2 the total, which seems to work for most people. Then I begin to carve the wax model. I take photos along the way and a zillion of them once the model is complete and send these to you. Any adjustments that need to be made can be made to the wax until it is perfect. Then it is cast into metal and I get to the finishing work: filing/sanding/polishing/stone setting (if any). I invoice the balance when the ring is about ready to ship and that’s it!

You used to have this one ring, but now I don’t see it in your shop! Do you still make it?

I probably do, but sometimes I forget to renew listings, and yes, sometimes I do retire certain designs in favor of new ones. Just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.

I sent you an email yesterday/3 days/a week ago and haven’t heard back yet. What gives?

I try to keep up with correspondences, but sometimes I get behind. Or the weekend happens, or my child has a meltdown when I don’t pay 100% attention to her. Or I did actually respond to you but haven’t yet clicked the send button. Still need more excuses? I never mind a reminder though—just send me a note if I seem to have forgotten you and I’ll get my act together.

Can you make it in silver instead?

Unfortunately, while I technically can make all my rings in silver, I prefer to not do most of my carved pieces (especially the delicate ones) in it for a few reasons. Sterling silver is not as hard of a metal as gold, particularly when cast, and tends to wear away quite a bit faster. With pieces that have a lot of detail or very delicate areas, I worry that they may not hold up as well. Not to mention that fact that silver tarnishes, scratches more readily, does not hold a polish quite as well, and is generally a higher-maintenance metal than gold. Another thing is my carved rings are very labor intensive and the pricing reflects this; making the ring in silver rather than gold doesn’t automatically make the ring a lot more inexpensive as it is exactly the same amount of labor on my end. I just don’t feel right making a ring for a client that is still quite pricey, yet may not hold up to wear very well over time, will be a generally higher-maintenance piece, and won’t have the intrinsic value that gold carries.

Can I use my grandma’s diamond?

I am happy to reuse your stones (with few exceptions). Send me an email with a description and dimensions and we’ll discuss it.

Can I reuse the gold too?

I do not personally melt down the old gold into the new piece. What I can do instead is send it to my refiner for a 98% payout on gold obtained (based on current gold market rates). Depending upon how much old gold you have, it could be worth doing. The payout may then be used toward your new piece. Send me an email and I’ll give you the specifics.

Will you make me a ring just like this one by Cathy Waterman except cheaper?

No.

However, I am all about having you send me inspiration images, including those of other pieces of jewelry. If you really mean you want a twisty vine ring, this I can totally do. Just don’t ask me to copy another designer’s piece.

How long does it take to have a custom ring made?

Usually I run 4-6 weeks once we have a design set and a deposit made. It changes a little based on how busy I am so send me an email and I’ll give you an updated timeline.

OMG my wedding is in a month! Can you do mine faster?!

Yes! However (and I hate to do it), I have started to charge an additional fee for rush jobs. Meaning, I’ll prioritize your ring order and the timeline might look more like 2-3 weeks (depending upon the type of order).

When will my ring be ready?

Email me and I’ll give you a status update! Please don’t be shy; I don’t mind at all! I can probably send you some photos of your piece in progress.

What are the differences between all the white metals you use?

I can do 14K and 18K white gold (nickel alloy), 14K and 18K palladium white gold, palladium 950 and platinum 950. I do not rhodium plate any of my metals, though you may certainly have them plated later on if you wish. This means that all the different alloys have slightly different colors.

The difference between 14K and 18K is the amount of pure gold in the alloy (alloy means metal blend): 14K is 14 parts out of 24 parts pure gold, or 58.5%, 18K is 18/24, or 75% pure.

14K white gold (nickel alloy) is the whitest of the gold alloys, with just the barest hint of warmth to it. 18K white (nickel) is very slightly warmer, more of a light metallic ivory in color. It has a more vintage feel to it. Both alloys are excellent for any carved and cast pieces.

14K palladium white gold means that palladium is used rather than nickel to make the gold white in color. 14K Pd compared to standard 14K (nickel) has a very slightly darker, steelier look to it. Same with the 18K Pd: a touch darker/steelier in tone and a touch warmer in hue. Like the nickel alloys above, these are excellent for carved and cast pieces. The palladium gold alloys are priced just a little more than the nickel alloys. Palladium is hypoallergenic, and perfect for use if the wearer has a nickel sensitivity.

Platinum 950 ( 95% platinum, 5% ruthenium) is a wonderful, heavy, dense, bright, pure white metal. It is ideal for most pieces save a few with very detailed carving or texturing. Similar to palladium, it casts extremely hot and can be a bit bumpy before I get to the finishing work; I feel like I obliterate some of the fine detailing when trying to smooth out the bumpiness. It has interesting wear properties in that it “displaces” rather than rubs off with wear. This does not mean it won’t scratch, but that over a long period of time, the band is less likely to get thinner like gold can (think of how paper thin an antique gold solitaire is on the underside). Pieces in platinum end up costing roughly 75% or more than their 14K counterparts.

Palladium 950 is a 95% pure palladium alloy (the 5% is something of a proprietary secret but is probably mostly ruthenium). Palladium is in the platinum elemental family and is identical in look to platinum–bright white color with no hint of yellow at all. It is, however, a lot lighter in weight than platinum, just a bare touch lighter than 14K gold. It is ideal for bands or solitaires that have lower relief carving, or are smooth in texture. Because of the intense heat required to cast it, the finished casting always turns out a little bumpy and the process of removing the bumps can also remove some of an intricate design or texturing. Ask me and I’ll let you know if your design would work with this metal. It has similar wear properties to platinum in that it “displaces” rather than rubs off with wear. Also, note that this metal is a little trickier to solder if any future resizes are required (you just need to be sure to find a repair jeweler who is familiar with working in palladium). All the gold alloys, in contrast, solder beautifully.

And the yellow ones?

I can do 14K, 18K, or 22K yellow gold. 14K and 18K are the more ideal alloys for rings but certain rings I can do in 22K, which is a softer alloy. 18K has a richer, more intense yellow color than 14K and 22K even more shockingly so.

I can also do a 14K or 20K rose gold (the 18K rose alloy was giving me trouble). The 14K rose has a classic bright rose hue like freshly cut copper, and the 20K rose is more warm and peachy.

How much does a diamond cost?

A lot.

No, really.

Send me an email with a general idea of what you have in mind, and I’ll send you my little “blurb” to get started (astoundingly, my blurb is too wordy even for this FAQ). I do have some really good diamond resources and can find pretty much anything.

How can I be sure a diamond I buy isn’t a “conflict” or “blood” diamond?

This is a tricky one. The short answer is that it is really difficult to be absolutely 100% sure all of the time exactly where the diamond you purchase comes from. I believe that most of the what is available to someone like me (for example) has a fairly small chance of actually being “conflict” material from one of the notorious hot spots, like Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, DRC, CAR, Venezuela. In 2003, the Kimberly Process certification scheme was established to track rough material from mine to export in an effort to be sure that the proceeds from diamond rough was not being used to fund violent rebel, military, or terrorist groups. All major diamond-dealing countries in the world did what they needed to do to get in compliance asap (due in no insignificant part I suspect from consumer pressure following the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “Blood Diamond”); part of being in compliance means you can trade only with other KP-complying countries. The KP certification isn’t perfect and does fall short in many areas; for example, it does not cover war crimes or human rights abuses directed by government forces, nor does it address unfair labor practices or environmental destruction brought on by irresponsible mining practices. Impartial oversight has been a problem, as well as lackluster follow-up to complaints or accounting anomalies. Frequently there is a massive economic disparity between mining company–usually a super-wealthy foreign company–and the local population. This isn’t to say that all mining countries are completely terrible; for example, major diamond producers such as Botswana and Namibia have managed to create a decently regulated mining industry that makes a point of investing back into the community rather than depleting and exporting all wealth. Other major producing countries that are considered to have higher industry standards are Canada, Russia, and South Africa, though each of these, arguably, has its issues as well.

In spite of my fairly bleak words above, there are actually some options for avoiding the bulk of any possible unseemly trade. Buy a Canadian stone, which is mined, and often cut and polished, in Canada where there are stricter environmental and labor regulations. You could also go with a recycled diamond, which does not support the new-material industry at all. For example, a sentimental family stone is always a great choice, or get something antique, removed from a broken or outdated piece of jewelry, e.g. There are some truly unique and beautiful old-style cuts out there. Another options is you could go with a lab-grown diamond, which is a stone 100% identical chemically to its natural counterpart, except that it is grown in a fancy lab machine rather than mined. The ones I usually get are made in Maryland.

I’d prefer a colored stone; what are my options?

You have options! I have a handful of lovelies I’ve hand-selected at shows for you to peruse, or if you have something specific in mind, I’ll help you search for it.

Initially, I can quote a general cost range for the stone you are interested in, and then once the custom piece’s design is more or less set and a deposit obtained, then I’ll go get the stone.

The reason I do it this way is because it can take time and often is a lot of work on my end, not to mention on the part of the dealers I contact who send me lists of stones, dimensions, descriptions, photos, and prices. One other thing to note: good stones go fast. Something I quote one day may not still be available a week or more later. Delaying the decision or going back and forth on what is to be used can be a recipe for tragedy if, after exhaustive deliberation, the stone ultimately chosen was sold three days prior.

All that said: Thee Best Time for me to get a special stone is before February of each year when I attend the largest gem show in the country. I can find nearly anything there, and viewing a huge variety of material, comparing prices, and hand selecting pieces in person is far easier then doing it via email and hastily snapped iphone pics. It is still a lot of running around on my part and requires commitment on yours, but the chances of me quickly finding the perfect stone is very high.

Do you have your rings in any stores where I can try them on?

I don’t. To have my rings in a retail store, they would need to be marked up I-don’t-even-know-how-much and then I would have to increase my shop prices accordingly. Because presumably any self-respecting retailer would be displeased if their stock could be found online for 40%+ less. I also don’t think I could physically (and mentally) handle any substantial increase in business either. I’m pretty happy with my current setup.

Can I come to your studio?

Well, not really. My studio is generally all akimbo with everything scattered just where I like it. Plus there is polishing grit everywhere, and my wobbly stool is getting to be downright dangerous and I don’t want to get sued. BUT! I would be totally happy to meet you at a coffee shop, or someplace tidy with an espresso machine and delicious baked goods. Send me an email and we’ll set it up!

Why are your Etsy prices higher than your Shop prices?

In my own shop, I price my pieces where I need to price them. Etsy charges a 5% commission on all sales, about to be increased to 18% May 1, so my Etsy prices are essentially my Shop prices + 5-18%. I still maintain my Etsy shop because I had been selling there for several years and people know to find me there. Etsy customers are welcome to contact me off of the Etsy platform to get an updated quote.  cheyenneweil@gmail.com

How the heck do I get a hold of you?

Email works best: cheyenneweil@gmail.com. Or you can peruse my Shop and contact me with any questions or order requests, or view a gallery of pieces on Instagram @cheyenneweiljewelry and leave comments for me (I love comments!).

3 Responses to “F A Q”

  1. Shawn Lebel says:

    I love your new oak leaf and acorn wide band just posted a couple days ago.I am getting married next fall and would like to purchase two of these in white gold.Please contact me as soon as you get a minute with pricing. I also left you a message on your Etsy site. Thanks.Love your work!
    Shawn

  2. Haley says:

    I’d really love to design a ring for my husband for our anniversary. Can you please contact me?

  3. […] Hi all! That time of the year has crept up once more and I want to let everyone know that I’ll be accepting new orders up to the second week of November (Nov. 9th) IF you would like a by-Christmas delivery. Otherwise, I’ll be taking the usual couple of weeks off from mid/late December to after the new year and if you are not particular about when your rings are ready, new orders may be accepted at any time. Just allow a little extra time for me to complete your pieces. My email address is: cheyenneweil@gmail.com if you have any questions about a piece, and if you would really like to do your research, here’s the FAQ! […]

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