The first step in developing a commercial line, like many things, is clarity of vision. It’s very important for jewelry designers to know exactly what they want to produce and to be able to communicate this vision efficiently. To accomplish this, jewelry designers will need one of four things: A master, a sample, a picture, or a sketch.

A master: A jewelry master is a device used to make a production mold of a jewelry design. A master is usually made out of silver, copper, or brass and acts as a blank template for production. Jewelry designers that have already been producing their designs and are shifting their production to a new factory should make sure they get masters back from the production company in addition to molds. The master is the heart of a design and is what enables a scale-able production to occur. The molds have a limited production lifespan and as they wear out a factory will never be able to replicate products exactly without the original masters.

A sample: A sample or prototype of a design is a piece of jewelry that is an exact replica of what the jewelry designer is striving to produce. Sometimes replicas will use cz’s instead of gemstones or be done in different materials, finishing, or plantings then the desired final piece.

A pictudesign-from-picturere: When providing pictures to work from, a good practice is to overlay any desired dimensions directly onto the image. Usually multiple views are desired to ensure the gold or silversmith will understand the desired side and back views as well. It can be expected that the jeweler working on the piece will take liberty with anything that not specified.

A sketch: When providing a picture, it’s almost always a good idea for jewelry designers to take the extra time to draw out multiple views and overlay dimensions directly onto the design. The most important thing to consider when drawing a sketch is that a jeweler can only be as accurate as the information presented them. The less details provided, the more artistic freedom the designer is giving the jeweler.

When providing a picture or a sketch, it’s important to consider the following:

Main Material: What Material is the design intended to be produced in? (Examples are 18K Gold, 14K Gold, Silver 925 etc…).

Finishing: What kind of finishing is intended on the surface of the design:

o   High Polish – Polished to a near mirror shine.

o   Satin-Brushed (Textured surface; composed of very delicate lines resembling cats hair)

o   Sandblast (Textured surface; Surface will resemble very fine sandpaper.)

Stamps and Logos

  • Where should the purity stamp and logo be located? It’s usually a good idea for designers to specify this, otherwise the jeweler will decide and the result can be unpredictable.
  • If a logo includes text designers should be sure to specify the font.


o   To prepare an approximate estimate of a jewelry design using gemstones, the manufacturer will need to know the color, quality, size, shape, and number of pcs of each variety of stone used in the design.

o   Types of gemstone settings. (Prong, bezel, flush).

o   Should the backs of gemstone settings be open or closed. If they will be open, will they be simple circles or should the jeweler use square patterns. It’s usually a good idea to open the backs of settings, otherwise the stones can appear dull, especially after the pieces have been worn, soap and crud can get trapped underneath the stones.

o   When requesting a factory to make proposals regarding gemstone requirements, Jewelry designers should supply specifics so that the factory can propose something within certain parameters such as a gemstone of a certain color or a certain budget, make sure you indicate all of requirements at the get go. Manufacturers do not like to go back and forth with proposals! Designers should never be afraid to talk about budgets. 


  • Ring Sizes: It’s important for designers provide the desired size of the sample ring, but also indicate what sizes the ring will be offered for sale in. It may be necessary to make multiple masters if it is a design that is difficult to resize due to gemstone placements or pattern details.


Pendants do not generally come together with chains when they are ordered from a manufacturer. If a pendant design is intended to be sold as a necklace, it’s important for that the following is specified:

Chain Type: A catalog of some common chain styles can be found at www.gemwares.com/CHAINS.pdf. Chains are usually produced by specialized chain factories are always subject to availability. Chains are produced in large quantities and then stocked for productions, so it’s usually a good idea to maintain some flexibility when it comes to chain styles. It’s also a good idea to indicate to the manufacturer when a chain style does not need to be exact so that they may suggest more easily available alternatives should the desired chain style be unavailable.


Gold chains styles tend to be more limited in selection then silver as manufacturers usually have to purchase and stock many hundred grams at a time, so are usually reluctant to offer many varieties to clients unless they are will to pay to stock them.

Chain Length: jewelry designs should include the desired chain length in centimeters. (1 inch = 2.54cm). Jewelry designers often forget to include details of any extender chains or logo tags required. This is very important to indicate as it will significantly effect the price of the chain.

Clasp Type: Designs should also indicate the type of clasp that should be used, common styles of clasp are lobster claw and round spring clasp. A catalog of some common findings can be found at www.gemwares.com/FINDINGS.pdf.

Just like chains, findings are usually produced by specialized factories using automated equipment, so custom spring clasps are usually not available except if very large quantities (as they require the manufacture of a specialized machine to produce them). This said, many manufactures will produce custom non-spring clasps like T-Clasps and S Hooks. If a custom clasp is required, make sure to include detailed drawings or images of the desired clasp together with dimensions.

A few last points to consider:

What are the best target price points?

Jewelry Designers should always consider price points when generating designs. A lot of newcomers to the business are slow to discuss pricing, preferring instead to wait for offers so that they may evaluate competitiveness. With a good manufacturer, this is a mistake. It’s important to be up front about key price points to make sure that designs can be made for the target market. If it can’t, it gives the manufacturer the opportunity to provide alternative options so that it can be made in the target price. It will save a lot of wasted effort dealing with these issues up front rather then after development of a sample that isn’t within the budget of the target market. For more on pricing see our article on finding a manufacturer to produce your custom jewelry line.

Designing jewelry with semi-precious stones: What kinds of materials are available?

When developing jewelry designs that will use materials unlikely to be stocked by a jewelry factory in their normal course of business, it’s important to consider the regular availability and consistency of materials. This doesn’t apply only to semi-precious gemstones, but also to unique components like watch crystal, or leather. As a general rule of thumb, jewelry designers that are planning on using any non-standard components or irregular gemstones, should be prepared to pay a stocking fee (which could amount to the cost of several hundred pieces of the component). The time to market will probably also be much longer as the factory will have source hard to find to components. If the exact component isn’t critical to the design, designers should always tell the factory that so that if there is a much easier to find alternative they can offer it!

Designing for comfortability: Just because it can be made, doesn’t mean it can be worn!

Before submitting designs for manufacture, designers should consider how the piece will be worn. If it’s an earring make sure it’s not more than 15grams or so. If it’s a ring, make sure it’s not too wide to be comfortably worn. When you’ve finished your jewelry design taking into account all of the above, visit http://www.gemwares.com/website/jewelry-design/ to have your design produced.



Customer Success Manager

American Gemstone: The World’s Jeweler