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Custom Jewelry Manufacturing & How Jewelry is Made

Planning to design & start a business with custom jewelry? There’s nothing more essential than learning how the jewelry industry works & most importantly, how custom jewelry is made. We’ll tell you exactly how to find one so keep reading!
Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Woman Wearing Custom Jewelry
Image Source: Pixabay

Jewelry. 18K Gold. Diamonds. Nothing beats authenticity and individuality when it comes to jewelry for the elite. And that is why you need a reliable custom jewelry manufacturer to bring your unique style to life. 

Whether you’re after the most sophisticated bling to produce or just want to put a personal style to existing jewelry designs, it’s always great to communicate with a manufacturer whom you can trust. 

In this post, we’ll reveal everything you need to know about custom jewelry manufacturing and how to find a reliable manufacturer. Plus, you’ll learn other essential things about jewelry-making, such as the heavy metal regulations, molding and packaging, and the customization process of custom jewelry. 

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing blog

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing Guide

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Diamonds
Image Souce: Pixabay

Want to know more details about custom jewelry manufacturing? Read on below as we unlock the things you need to know about buying, manufacturing, and importing custom jewelry for your business.

What is Custom Jewelry?

Custom jewelry is jewelry that’s out of the ordinary, mass-produced ones. It can be one of the following:

  • Your own custom jewelry design
  • Made of specialized gemstones or materials you have planned
  • Truly unique jewelry you designed for your own personal taste or your customer’s

Difference Between Custom Jewelry & Mass-Produced Jewelry

Now that you know what custom jewelry is, let’s find out what is the difference between them and the mass-produced ones. Can you mass-produce your custom jewelry?
Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Rihanna Wearing Customized Jewelry
Rihanna’s jewelry is one-of-a-kind (Image Source: British Vogue)

Custom jewelry is made specifically for the purpose of being different, taking into account individual tastes and styles. It’s one-of-a-kind, unlike mass-produced jewelry which uses cookie-cutter designs that are based on current market trends.

Custom jewelry can be made to cater to specific tastes in gemstones and metals. If you’re looking for something truly unique to make or offer to your customers, go for custom-made jewelry instead of mass-produced.

Moreover, custom-made jewelry can have a customized finish. This means the manufacturer lets you choose metal and other materials, as well as the color. You can even ask the producer to put your personalized engraving.

Custom Jewelry is Original

The biggest difference between custom jewelry and mass-produced jewelry might be accounted for its originality. While mass-produced jewelry is made to appeal to the widest possible audience, custom-made jewelry is designed specifically for a person or a specific group of people with specific preferences in mind.

You can add your personal brand to the jewelry design if you opt to work with a custom jewelry manufacturer. As the designer, you work closely with the manufacturer to turn your vision into reality – making it possible to choose the theme, stones, metals, color, and size of the jewelry.

Custom Jewelry is Made by Professionals

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Design Sketching 1
Image source: Pixabay

When you commission a piece of custom jewelry, you are guaranteed to have a one-of-a-kind item that is unlike any other piece of jewelry in the world. You can even incorporate elements that are meaningful to you, such as incorporating birthstones into a piece of jewelry. 

And, because custom jewelry is made by skilled and experienced jewelers, you can be sure that your piece will be of the highest quality. With proper care, custom jewelry can be enjoyed for many years to come and produced with utmost durability.

Custom Jewelry May Not Always Be Too Expensive as You Think

Perhaps the main disadvantage of custom jewelry is the price to pay. Custom jewelry may surely be more expensive than mass-produced jewelry. However, the quality and originality of custom jewelry often outweigh the cost, as you are guaranteed to have a unique and beautiful piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime.

Some people believe that custom jewelry is too expensive and not worth the money. Other people believe that it is worth the investment because you are guaranteed to have a one-of-a-kind item that is made with superior quality and craftsmanship. 

But this doesn’t mean that all manufacturers require a huge sum of money to customize jewelry. You can always find a professional manufacturer who can meet your budget and present you with a large selection of materials to substitute the ones that may cost you more than the other. 

Furthermore, while wholesale jewelry can be less costly in the beginning, it may end up costing the consumer more in the long run. 

Because mass-produced items are often meant to be lighter and thinner to reduce manufacturing costs, it is more common for stones to fall out of them quickly. On the other hand, custom jewelry is made to last its lifetime as valuable keepsakes that can last for generations.

Custom Jewelry Categories

Manufacturers of jewelry and accessories tend to specialize in a certain category of fashion jewelry. Following are a few instances of industry subcategories:

  • Stainless Steel Jewelry
  • Pearl Jewelry
  • Plastic Jewelry and Accessories
  • Leather Accessories
  • Gold and Silver Jewelry
  • Children’s Jewelry

What are the Types of Fashion Jewelry You Can Customize from a Manufacturer?

The great thing about choosing a custom jewelry manufacturer from China is that there are a lot of companies that offer tons of options for jewelry customization. This means they’re absolutely flexible in terms of material selection and packaging options.

For example, you can find a wide category of selection for fashion jewelry types such as custom bracelets, specialty brooches, customized charms, private label cufflinks, custom jewelry earrings, necklaces, studs, and engagement rings. 

Other specific customizable jewelry include the following:

Black Pearl JewelleryButterfly BroochesCloisonne EarringsCordierite CharmsCrystal BroochCrystal StudsDiamond RingDrop EarringsEarring StudsEnamel CharmsEnamel EarringsEnamel RingsEnamel StudsGemstone CufflinksGemstone NecklaceGemstone StudsJade BraceletJewel EarringsLuxury BroochesLuxury EarringsMen BroochesMen CufflinksNecklace PendantPearl EarringsPearl NecklaceRing NecklaceRuby BraceletSapphire RingShell CufflinksSilver CharmsTurquoise RingsWedding BandWomen Brooches

What are the Materials Used in Jewelry Making?

There are a variety of materials that Chinese manufacturers use to make jewelry. The most common ones are gold, silver, and platinum. Gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires are also highly popular, as well as other materials such as glass, wood, and bone.

In addition, there are also a number of trendy jewelry accessories manufactured from copper, zinc alloy, aluminum, stainless steel,  zirconia, and titanium. These materials provide jewelers with a versatile choice when it comes to making and selling jewelry. 

Other popular materials used in jewelry making include precious stones, freshwater pearls, semi-precious stones, crystals, and beads. Swarovski is also a popular choice for those looking for quality jewelry. There are also coconut shells and seashells.

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing Process

Custom Jewelry Production: What happens behind closed factory doors?
Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - How Jewelry Manufacturing Works
Source: CADCamNYC

Before sourcing a manufacturer, it is better to know the process of making customized jewelry. This is for you to be able to follow through with any problems which may arise during the production process and to make informed decisions.

The first step in manufacturing custom jewelry is to come up with a design. This can be anything from a sketch on a piece of paper to an intricate CAD drawing. Once you have your design, it’s time to consult the manufacturer.

1. Consultation

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Design Sketching 2
Image Source: Jewelry Design

A free consultation with an experienced designer can get you started on the path to creating your own unique jewelry. The designer/manufacturer will work with you to create a piece of jewelry that is both beautiful and comfortable to wear according to the size you prefer. 

You can choose the stone quality, precious metal, and other details of your custom jewelry piece. You will need to specify the materials, talk over the design and ask for a quotation for your idea. You will then gain some feedback from the professional about the viability of your design and how they can produce it for you. 

2. Developing a 3D Model Using CAD

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - 3D Model using CAD
Image source: CAD Crowd

After you’ve communicated your sketch with the manufacturer, the next step is 3D modeling and rendering your custom jewelry. Using CAD software, a skilled 3D artist can create a digital render of your jewelry that can be used to make the final product. The photo-realistic image will then be shown to you prior to committing to production. 

This process can take anywhere from a day to a week, depending on the complexity of the project. Do note that the 3D model is made for functionality first and may not look as aesthetically pleasing as the final product.

3. Creating the Wax Model

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Wax Model
Image Source: Pinterest

3D wax models are an essential part of the jewelry design process, as they allow you to see how your final piece will look and feel. By creating a 3D wax model of your custom jewelry, you can be sure that your design will translate perfectly into the final product.

4. Casting & Finishing

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Casting and Finishing
Image Source: Kernowcraft

With utmost craftsmanship, the professional jewel makers will then create your custom jewelry through the lost wax casting method. Lost wax casting is a technique in which molten metal is poured into a mold that has been created from a wax model. Using gold, silver, or platinum, this method results in very detailed and intricate jewelry pieces. The resulting metal is then smoothened into the shape of your jewelry.

5. Jewelry Assembly

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Jewelry Assembly
Image Source: Savanigems

After your ring or necklace passes through the design and casting stage, it goes into the final customization stage where any aesthetic adjustments are made before the stone setting begins. At this stage, the manufacturer intricately refines the jewelry structure making sure every part is accurately done and looks exquisite according to your plans. If enameling work or additional design is needed, this takes place before setting.

6. The Stone Setting Process

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Stone Setting Process
Image Source: Forever Faithful Diamonds

After assembling the jewelry, the stone setter will finally add the diamonds or gems to the jewelry. Utilizing a microscope, the professional will ensure that each stone is mounted carefully onto the metal and ensure longevity.

7. Polishing, Finishing, and Quality Assurance

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Polishing, Finishing, Quality Assurance
Image Source: GIA

In the last stage, a professional polisher ensures that the metal is perfectly polished and as gleaming as possible. Any last touches, like engravings, are added as well. Finally, the piece is examined and each detail is quality checked to ensure that production went well.

How Long Does It Take to Make

Custom jewelry takes time. But you can’t put a price on love! It usually takes six to 12 weeks to customize jewelry. The length of time depends on the complexity of the custom jewelry and the number of custom orders ahead of yours.

After the consultation, rendering and CAD can take one to three weeks, wax mold one to two weeks, and your completed bespoke engagement ring two to three weeks.  Not to mention, the time it takes for you to approve each step of the way!

Custom Jewelry Manufacturer Sourcing & Importing Guide

This section covers everything you need to know about sourcing and importing custom jewelry from China.

What is the Difference Between Jewelry Manufacturers, Wholesalers, and Trading Companies?

There are a lot of Jewelry manufacturing businesses in China and these can be categorized into 3 types:

  • Manufacturers
  • Wholesalers
  • Trading Companies

Manufacturers

If you need a high level of customization, a manufacturer may be the best option.

Jewelry Manufacturers are responsible for designing and producing jewelry. They work directly with customers to create products that meet their specific needs. Working alongside a manufacturer means you have more flexibility in terms of the design procedures and can better understand their capability of meeting relevant standards.

Wholesalers

If you are looking for lower prices, a wholesaler may be the best choice.

The second type of company is a wholesaler. This type of company buys jewelry from trading companies and then sells it to retailers. Jewelry wholesalers typically have a smaller inventory of products than trading companies, but they can present lower prices because they buy in bulk. 

Trading Companies

If you need a large variety of products, a trading company may be the best option.

This type of company buys jewelry from manufacturers and then sells it to retailers. Trading companies typically have a large inventory of products, which gives them the ability to offer a wide range of products to their customers.

Which Custom Jewelry Supplier to Contact?

When choosing a jewelry supplier, it is important to consider your specific needs. Trading companies usually have large connections with several jewelry factories and are more likely to provide a wider selection of items. If you’re looking into ordering bulk jewelry, choose wholesalers. If however, you want full customization, choose a manufacturer

There are also companies that are both manufacturing and trading companies.

Private Label vs Contract Manufacturing for Custom Jewelries

There’s also the difference between a private label jewelry manufacturer and a contract manufacturer and we’re going to define that.

Private Label Jewelry

Private label manufacturing is when you order unbranded jewelry from a manufacturer and ask them to place your own brand. It’s good for individuals or companies who want to sell an existing product but don’t have the design or manufacturing capabilities to make it themselves. 

The manufacturer controls the product specifications, manufacturing process, and materials. There’s very little to no control over product customization with private label manufacturing, except for maybe the color or packaging.

The benefits of private-label jewelry include having control over marketing and pricing, while also providing market stability and brand recognition. However, there are some disadvantages to private label manufacturing like low operation control, minimum order requirements, and inconsistency in quality.

Contract Manufacturing

Contract manufacturing is when you outsource your product idea to a manufacturer who then produces it according to your specifications. You are in charge of the research, development, design, and testing. The benefits of contract manufacturing include flexibility, the ability to maximize profits, scalability, and access to expertise.

How the Jewelry Manufacturing Industry Works

1. Design Capabilities of Jewelry Manufacturers

What other jewelry factories have in common is their limited support for design to their clients. They usually expect importers to know a few things about the product they want to create. Hence, do not expect to get free design services from scratch!

In short, if you’re looking to have something custom made by a jewelry factory, be prepared to have a design ready, and don’t expect much hand-holding from the manufacturer. They’ll likely have plenty of subcontractors to do the work, but it’s up to you to make sure your vision is clear.

2. Product Customization Scope

Most suppliers are usually capable of offering custom-designed items. You can typically find two methods of customizing products in this industry: 

1) Using standard materials to create an entirely unique design; or 

2) Creating entirely new, customized parts. 

A lot of jewelry companies like to apply both methods to maximize the time spent on manufacturing each component. 

3. Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)

You would usually see “MOQ” when looking for a supplier. The minimum order requirement (MOQ) is the minimum number of units that a jewelry manufacturer is willing to assemble. 

In the jewelry industry, the MOQ may be set either based on the number of orders or on a per-design basis. It tells you the least number of units the manufacturer agrees on you to order on the least amount of unit price. 

The second type of MOQ, which is the per-design basis, is not set by the supplier but by the part subcontractor. This type of MOQ is more difficult to negotiate with but you can actually specify as many standardized components as possible to make the production easier.

4. Services You Should Look for

When searching for a custom jeweler, it is important to consider what services they offer.

  • Can they cast and/or hand fabricate the piece of jewelry you want?
  • Do they have their own CAD work?
  • Are they master stone setters?
  • Can the custom jeweler hand engrave?
  • Is there previous work to look at?
  • It is also key that they understand your vision for the piece.

By taking all of these factors into account, you will be able to find the best custom jeweler for your needs.

5. Jewelry Packaging and Gift Box

Jewelry manufacturers typically outsource their product packaging to specialized subcontractors. This gives buyers two options: standard product packaging or custom-designed packaging.

  1. Standard packaging

A less expensive option but cannot be customized in terms of design or material. The minimum order requirement for standard packaging is usually around 300 to 500pcs

  1. Customized packaging 

This option costs more but offers a higher degree of customization. The minimum order quantity (MOQ) for custom packaging is often 3000 to over 5000 pieces, which is ten times the MOQ for standard packaging.

6. How to Ask for a Sample

When you are interested in a product and want to order a pre-production sample, it is best to be direct with the manufacturer. You can explain why you are interested in the product and how many items you would like to buy after seeing the sample. 

When you need multiple samples for different uses, you should explain this to the supplier so they are aware. Usually, only a single sample is given out, so asking for more than one may make the supplier think you are only interested in buying a few items at their wholesale price.

7. Paying Your Supplier

Paying the supplier can be done in a few different ways. The most common way is through an international wire transfer or telegraphic transfer (T/T). This method is usually used by most suppliers. 

Another way to pay is through LCs or letters of credit, which are often chosen for big transactions. Sourcing agents or individuals can also help with payments and may even offer escrow services. Additionally, some suppliers accept payment via Western Union or PayPal. Finally, cash is also a common form of payment in China.

Quality Management

When working with any custom jewelry manufacturer, it is always a good idea to request records of their previous quality checks. This will give you an idea of the level of quality you can expect from their products.

In particular, most legitimate jewelry businesses have a QMS. A Quality Management System (QMS) ensures that only high-quality materials are used in the production.

It is important to note that, while a QMS can be beneficial, it is not a substitute for third-party quality inspections. These inspections are often required in order to verify that products meet international standards.

Raw Material Quality Checks

This system usually begins with checks of incoming raw materials from subcontractors. These checks ensure that the subcontractor has supplied the correct components, as well as the correct quantity of each component. 

Production Quality Checks

Once the assembly process begins, there are typically additional quality checkpoints to ensure that the finished product meets all specifications.

Final Product Quality Checks

In many cases, manufacturers will also perform a final quality check prior to packaging and shipment. These checks can help to ensure that products meet the requirements of their customers.

Are there Product Regulatory Requirements for Importing Jewelry?

Yes, there are. First and foremost, jewelry accessories usually come in direct contact with the skin and hence, the reason why test reports are required. When importing jewelry, companies, usually importers, will ask the help of third-party testing companies like the SGS, Intertek, or BV to test materials and samples before placing a large order. This ensures that the buyer is getting what they expect. The lab will provide a report that the buyer can use to make their decision. 

These tests consist of Physical tests and Chemical tests. 

The physical test determines the safety of the products and may include the following:

colorfastness, sharp point, tensile test, and many more.

As for the chemical test, the US and European Union both require jewelry imports to follow the regulations under the Heavy Metal and Chemical Regulations. These include:

a. Regulations for Jewelry and Accessories

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Regulations for Jewelry and Accessories

b. Regulations for Children’s Jewelry & Accessories

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Regulations for Children's Jewelry and Accessories

The REACH and CPSIA have set strict regulations on the import of items that involve the use of Lead, Nickel, Mercury, and other metals.

Important Note:

Before anything else, you need to weed out suppliers that comply with the US and EU standards when it comes to Jewelry and Accessories imports. A supplier without any experience in this field may not have the capability to export your custom jewelry items and may be considered a liability.

Where to Find Custom Jewelry Manufacturers in China?

Short Answer: Guangdong, Shandong, Fujian, Qingdao, Yiwu, or Zhejiang

Indeed, China is a top spot where you can find the world’s best jewelry manufacturing locations. But if you’re aiming to find experienced jewelry wholesalers, suppliers, private label or contract manufacturers, or custom jewelry manufacturers, you can find them in Guangdong, Shangdong, Fujian, Qingdao, Yiwu, or Zhejiang.

These places are currently housing the best jewelry equipment, materials, and manufacturing capabilities in China. Examples include:

  • Yiwu: Yiwu International Wholesale Market
  • Qingdao: Sino-Korea International Commodities Market
  • Guangzhou: Taikang Plaza

How to Find a Reliable Custom Jewelry Manufacturer, Supplier, or Factory?

This is not to say that you cannot find other reliable manufacturers in other places in China. In fact, there are thousands of manufacturers and trading companies in China that you can get into business with.

So, if you want to try to source them yourself, here are the things you need to do to find a reliable custom jewelry factory.

Custom Jewelry Manufacturing - Design Process
Image Source: Roman Jewelers

1. Look at the Right Places & Right Information

Before jumping out in the open waters, it is better to check the company online. Where exactly can you find information about them? You can look through Alibaba or B2B company websites.

The most important things to look out for are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Transaction history
  • Certificates (make sure the certificates bear the company’s name in this order:

Registered Area + Industrial Selection + Brand Name + Limited

  • Flexibility (in terms of material selection and manufacturing capabilities)
  • Years of experience

At this point, you don’t need to worry about prices. You must first ensure that you are looking at the right places and that you are sourcing ideal manufacturers who are:

  • Capable of handling your order quantity and material requirements
  • Easy to communicate with (you want to make sure your instructions and specific product designs are met)

List down 10 custom jewelry manufacturers which you believe can produce what you want.

2. Get Quotation

Once you’ve listed the jewelry companies you think are the best, it’s time to ask for prices and negotiate according to your budget. Send them the following to request a quotation:

  • your sketch/drawing specifying the materials and details as much as you could. 
  • Ask them their MOQ, lead time, and standard packaging.
  • Include FOB Unit Price, product sample cost, payment terms

3. Ask for a Sample First

Before making a final manufacturer selection, it is advisable to order pre-production samples. This way, you can identify quality issues, errors, and other issues that may fail to comply with the import policies in your country.

4. Check the Payment Options

Most legitimate manufacturers won’t ask for payment through Paypal or Western Union. Reliable manufacturers would ask you to pay through wire transfer or through the bank under their company name and address.

5. Shortlist your Custom Jewelry Manufacturers

Up until the point of assessing the manufacturers’ product samples can you now shortlist your custom jewelry manufacturer.

Top Custom Jewelry Manufacturer for Artists, Jewelers, Designers

Whether you’re:

  • An artist, jeweler, or designer who has created your unique jewelry design and wants it to be manufactured intricately according to your vision of perfect jewelry,
  • A business who have in-house designers and looking for a contract manufacturer to produce your jewelry design in bulk or in wholesale, or
  • An artist who wants to imitate a jewelry design but has better ideas for the material color, type, and variety,

You should seriously pursue a manufacturing or trading company with which you can communicate with all your custom jewelry supplying needs effectively.

Wrapping Up

We hope this guide has helped you learn how to find a custom jewelry manufacturer in China. In spite of the lengthy process and cost, most artists and designers prefer the quality that custom jewelry brings. Bringing your vision to life is a unique and creative expression of who you are. If you are interested in making that vision into reality, then it’s time to take the leap of sourcing a jewelry supplier to materialize your dreams!

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