When you come to Blue Heron for a custom piece of jewelry – whether in person, by phone or by email – we want you to be fully involved in each stage of production.

First, we like to sit down with you for a one-on-one consultation.

We learn about what makes your vision special to you and help you understand the best methods for implementing your idea. We’ll also discuss metal options and work with you to choose the perfect gemstone, unless you prefer to use your own.

The result is a starting sketch which we will refine, then use to bring your design to life in a three-dimensional wax model. This model allows you to see how your design is progressing, so that we can discuss changes and revisions before the piece is finished.

One you approve the model, we cast your jewelry, set the stones, and give the piece a final polish, making sure it’s perfect when you see the final result.

With over 30 years of experience bringing visions to reality, it is our pleasure to create your dream piece of jewelry.

Contact us at (800) 249-1586

Resources

Part of the custom design process is choosing loose diamonds:

Search our diamond inventory, compare prices and details in an easy to read format. Select the diamond[s] that best suits you. Make a note of the stock number for up to 3 diamonds, call the store with your request or send us an email so our sales associates can place the order for you. Diamonds are delivered to us overnight when placed during the week. We’ll set up an appointment to show you the diamonds with one of our experienced diamond associates. There is no obligation to buy. Let us show you the beauty of the diamonds and discuss their virtues, features and characteristics in person.

Vocabulary:

Acrylic resin: a glassy thermoplastic used for cast and molded items, coming in many colors it has been used in a wide variety of jewelry forms since the 1920’s

Agate: A group of Quartz, which include Chalcedony, Sardonyx, Carnelian, Chrysoprase and Onyx, are translucent, porous stones with a waxlike luster.

Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals to make the predominate metal more durable.

Aluminum: A bluish, silver-white metallic element discovered in 1812. It is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. In the early 20th century artists in the “Arts and Crafts” movement utilized it for jewelry.

Annealing: The process of relieving work stress within metal by heating it. Some metals require quenching while others respond better to air-cooling.

Anodize: To change the surface color of a metal by using an electrical current. Most commonly used on aluminum and titanium.

Art Deco: A design style originating (1915-1938) as a reaction to Art Nouveau. Characterized by rectilinear forms, symmetry and repetitive geometric patterns.

Art Nouveau: A design style characterized by flowing lines, intertwined floral and fauna motifs, the feminine form and asymmetry. (1890-1910)

Arts & Crafts: A movement that revolted against expensive materials and industrial processes, valuing natural designs and a handcrafted art aesthetic. (1888-1915)

Baguette: A long, narrow, rectangular cut for a gemstone. Usually diamond or other precious gems.

Bail: the loop or ring at the top of a pendant by which it hangs.

Ball peen: the spherical working end of a forming hammer.

Bangle: A rigid, ornamental bracelet, which is slipped on over the hand or clasped at the wrist.

Bead: A small ball-shaped item pierced for threading on a string or wire. Beads can be of shell, glass, gemstone, metal or plastics.

Bench Jeweler: an artisan who has received training to work hands-on with jewelry tools and materials, and understands the processes necessary to create or repair jewelry.

Bench Pin: A wooden extension of the jeweler’s bench upon which sawing, filing and forming are done.

Bezel: a thin strip of metal formed to surround a stone then pressed in and down on the stone to secure it in place.

Binding wire: A soft Iron or steel wire used to hold objects together and in place during soldering.

Brass: An alloy of copper and zinc.

Briolette: A teardrop shaped gemstone cut with facets completely around the stone.

Brooch: an ornamental pin with a straight pin (stem) and a catch, which is hidden when it is worn.

Burnish: to hand or machine polish a metal surface by rubbing it with a polished metal or stone tool. (Burnisher)

Buffing: The final stage of creating a high polish. Can be done with machines or by hand.

Carat: A unit of weight used to measure gemstones. Originally determined by the weight of a carob seed.

Cabochon: A term used to describe a stone that has a smooth rounded surface.

Casting: A process of creating metal objects by pouring molten metal into a hollow form made from sand, cuttlefish or plaster.

Chasing: A process of embossing, adding fine detail or texture to the surface of sheet metal through the use of steel punches and hammer.

Claw / Crown Setting: A symmetrical prong setting which resembles a claw or a small crown and is used to hold faceted gemstones. Also known as a “head”.

Copper: A malleable red-colored base metal. Popular for it’s versatility and low cost.

Cuttlefish: A marine animal whose porous white skeleton is used as a mold in one kind of direct casting.

Die: A metal form into which sheet metal is pushed for forming.

Dapping Block: A steel tool (typically a cube) with round hemispherical depressions used to form domes. The steel rods with matching domes on the ends are called Dapping Punches.

Draw-plate: A plate of hardened steel with funnel-shaped holes of diminishing size used to reduce wire in diameter. The Process is called drawing.

Enameling: A process for coloring jewelry by fusing a special type of glass to the surface of the metal.

Engraving: A process of decorating metal by cutting away the surface with sharp tools called gravers.

Etching: The controlled corrosion of a metal surface with resists and acids to create a texture or pattern.

Fabrication: Construction from sheet and wire using hand tools.

Faceted: A term used to describe a gemstone cut of flat, highly polished, planes at angles to one another that reflect light.

Findings / Fittings: Elements that contribute to the wearability of a piece of jewelry. Findings usually refer to machine made and Fittings refers to hand made catches, pin stems, ear-wires and bails etc.

Finish: The final surface treatment on a piece and the quality of craftsmanship on the overall piece.

Firescale: A subsurface discoloration of oxidized copper on sterling silver that has been heated to long or to hot without a protective flux.

Flex shaft: A versatile jewelry tool consisting of a precision high-speed motor, 3 foot flexible extension to a hand-piece and a foot rheostat. It is used for drilling, grinding, sanding, carving, and polishing.

Flux: A chemical used to coat the surface of metals during soldering to protect against the formation of oxides.

Forging: The process of shaping metal primarily through hammering.

Fusing: A technique of joining metals by melting them together.

Gemstones: A term used to describe the precious and semiprecious stones used in jewelry.

Gold: A precious, naturally yellow metal traditionally used to make jewelry. Extremely soft in its purest state, gold is alloyed to silver and cooper to create different tones and make it tougher.

Graver: A sharp steel tool used for engraving and stone setting.

Hinge: A movable joint that turns or swings in a single plain, used to articulate two parts.

Ingot: A massive unit of metal, typically cast as the first step before milling out wire or sheet in a more usable size.

Inlay: A process by which one metal is fused or soldered into a recess in another metal. The surface is then filed flush, so that the recessed material becomes clearly defined.

Investment: In Jewelry it refers to the plaster used to make molds in lost wax casting.

Jeweler: A broad term used to describe a maker of jewelry or a merchant of jewelry and gemstones.

Karat: A proportional unit used to describe the purity of gold. 24k equaling pure gold, with for example 14k referring to the fraction 14/24 or 14 parts of pure gold to 10 parts alloy.

Layout: The process of determining, measuring and marking out the elements and parts that will go into a piece of jewelry.

Liver of Sulfur: Potassium Sulfide mixed with water to make a solution that will blacken copper and silver.

Lost wax casting: A process in which a wax replica is encased in plaster, the plaster flask is then heated in a kiln to the point where the wax is burnt out leaving a cavity into which molten metal is poured. The plaster mold must then be destroyed to recover the casting.

Mallet: A hammer shaped tool made of a material that will not seriously mark the metal such as rubber, leather, horn and wood.

Mandrel: A tapered shaft, usually steel, around which metal is pressed or hammered to change its shape. Commonly named after its use, as in ring mandrel, bracelet mandrel, and bezel mandrel.

Mokume’ Gane: A process in which layers of metal are fused together creating a mokume’ laminate. The layers are then exposed through etching, filing, and milling.

Patina: A color coating on metal which can occur naturally or through the application of chemicals.

Pickle: An acidic solution used to clean metal. (often Sulfuric Acid)

Piercing: A process of creating negative space in a design by drilling holes, threading a saw blade through the hole and sawing to remove material from the inside of a shape.

Pin: A wire sharpened at one end to pass through fabric in order to fasten a brooch to a garment.

Plating: A fine coating of metal deposited on a metallic surface by means of an electric current.

Platinum: A precious metal that is a darker gray in color than silver and approximately twice as dense.

Polish: Metal finish when the piece has been cleaned of unwanted blemishes, rough spots, and uneven edges or surfaces.

Punches: Harden steel tools used to decorate, texture or form metal.

Raising: Forcing metal into three-dimensional forms through the use of hammers and stakes.

Repousse’: An ancient process in which sheet metal is hammered into contours from the front and the back.

Reticulation: A heat-based process that creates a rich random surface texture through the use of discrepancies in shrinkage rates of metal.

Rivet: A pin used to mechanically join components without heat or solder. The ends of the pin are spread to keep the parts from coming apart.

Roll Printing: A technique in which a rolling mill is used to imprint textures and patterns on sheet metal under pressure.

Rolling Mill: A piece of equipment consisting of two parallel, hardened steel cylinders mounted in a sturdy frame, used to reduce the size of sheet stock or wire.

Silver: An elemental metal of light-gray color known for its purity, malleability and bright shine. Pure silver, being rather soft is alloyed to (75 parts per thousand) copper to create Sterling Silver (stamped 925).

Solder: An alloy of specific melting temperature and surface tension used to join metals. Process is called soldering.

Stamping: the technique of impressing shapes and textures onto metal surfaces through the use of hardened steel tools called punches.

Steel: An alloy of iron and carbon.

Tabs: A cold connection in which fingers or strips of metal are bent over an element to secure it in place.

Texture: A visual or tactile surface given to a form.

Upset: to flare the end of a rivet by pounding the metal down on itself.

Work hardening: The characteristic of metals to become tough and brittle when undergoing forces such as hammering, drawing, bending, rolling, and compressing.

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