MADISON (WKOW) -- It sounds exclusive and expensive, but designing your own jewelry is becoming the preferred and more practical way to purchase bracelets, pendants, and even engagement rings.
Greg Bires has been creating jewelry for more than three decades, but the industry is changing. He says more than half his business now comes from custom orders, sometimes with very specific instructions.
"The nice thing about being able to design a piece is there's no limitations,” says Bires. “Whatever a person has in mind, we can recreate those. We can incorporate their ideas."
Bires credits the millennial generation with pushing the custom-made trend, many of them using their own inherited gemstones that need a new setting or an updated look.
"More jewelry stores are catering to that niche,” says Angie's List founder Angie Hicks. “They're buying technology and creating an environment where you can come in and design your own piece that matches your own personality."
Not everyone knows exactly what they want, so it's important to find an experienced designer who can guide you along.
"First, look at the work they've already done to get a sense of their style to be sure it's going to match what you're looking for, and then be able to clearly articulate the types of things you like, even bring in pictures of things that are your style,” Hicks says. “If I see something that I just think won't work or will look better, I'll explain why and, most of the time, the customer wants that input,” says Bires.
Bires enjoys designing pieces that tug on the heart. He made one ring for a woman who lost a sister, but wanted a daily reminder of her, so he combined their birthstones in a unique setting.
"It was really simple, but it meant so much to this person and it's the only ring like that in the world now,” Bires says,.
Custom-designed jewelry may require multiple conversations with your designer to get exactly what you want. If you're designing a ring, Angie recommends having a wax model made before starting on the real thing in order to ensure fit and style.