No jewelry request is too big, too small, or too outrageous for these visionary designers and retailers.
A pair of jasper cufflinks carved and painted to resemble a client’s pet dogs; a wide platinum band dotted with inherited diamonds; a gold egg that opens to reveal an engraved family tree. All were produced by jewelers in response to a request—some might call it a challenge—from customers eager to take home a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Twenty years ago, custom jewelry design referred to little more than mixing and matching stones in premade settings. “When my dad and my grandfather custom-made jewelry, they would open a casting catalog, show the client a picture, order it, and do a few adaptations,” says Lee Krombholz, third-generation owner of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati. “Very few jewelers at that time would carve waxes and design a fully custom piece because it was a fairly expensive process.” Today, Krombholz chairs the newly formed Council of Custom Jewelers of Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America (MJSA) and considers custom work an integral part of his 76-year-old retail business, with commissions such as that golden family-tree egg.