What is Custom Jewelry? Why is it so Important to Know?

The Difference Between Customized Jewelry and Custom Jewelry Design

What is the Difference Between Customized Jewelry and Custom Jewelry Design? Why a Small Difference in Definition Can Create a Big Differences in Price

Most jewelers use the words “customized” and “custom” interchangeably and consider that any change made to a piece of jewelry results in a custom piece of jewelry. On the surface, the difference in words may not seem to matter, but when it comes to budget, it matters a lot.


Custom jewelry design has become a driving force in the jewelry industry. A large portion of any store’s revenue comes from clients hoping to create a unique piece of jewelry that is unlike any other. This is especially true when it comes to engagement rings, where the ring represents a special relationship and is often  personalized to reflect the nature of that one-of-a-kind connection.


Those last four letters at the end of customized represent a completely different process than custom jewelry design. Knowing the difference is imperative since when it comes to custom jewelry, the process drives the price.  The problem is that the word “customized” is often not differentiated from true “custom” jewelry and the consumer can end up paying more than they should.


There are two general ways to create a piece of jewelry that appeals to your taste and is different than what you see online or in a showcase:

  • You can customize the jewelry that already exists or

  • you can start from scratch with a dream and designer to create a unique one-of-a-kind piece that is truly original.

 Either process results in a beautiful piece of jewelry, but the pricing should be completely different.


“Customized” Jewelry

Customizing is the process of starting with a ring that is already made and changing some element to align it with your personal taste. This can involve simply changing the color of the gold from white to yellow or rose. It usually involves choosing a center stone that holds meaning to you. Most often, this is simply selecting a center stone with a different shape or a different size than is currently in the ring.

 Customizing jewelry is simple and shouldn't be priced the same as true custom designed jewelry

“Custom Jewelry Design”

Custom Jewelry Design is the process of beginning with an original idea and collaborating with a designer to bring your idea to life. The designer uses CAD software to “build” your design from scratch in a 3D interface where every element of the design is created according to your specifications (with the help of our expert design team). Next, a 3D print of your creation is made so you can try it on and decide if further changes are necessary to refine the design to your exact dream. The process continues until the design is perfect and it is ready to move to the production phase where jewelers cast the ring using your 3D model and a mold, then set the diamonds or gems and finish it with a polish or texture that you’ve chosen. This process involves the time and skill of a team of artisans who are focused on creating your special design the way you’ve dreamed it. Find more details on the true custom jewelry design process here!

 True custom jewelry begins with a design idea which is translated into a ring design using CAD software.


If you simply want to customize a piece of jewelry, you should not be paying custom prices!

While almost any jeweler can customize jewelry, only a small percentage can actually create custom jewelry from scratch, in house , from sketch to finished piece. This means that the majority of jewelers must pitch customized jewelry as custom jewelry in order to draw potential clients to their store or website. If you want to work with a full custom jeweler with the ability to do all phases of ring creation onsite, Thollot & Co is ready to help you! However, if you simply want to ensure you are paying the right price for customization, read on!

How Should Simple Customization Affect the Price?

In the process of customizing a ring, your jeweler can order the ring from the original manufacturer to be made in a different metal or use the existing ring and change the center stone.

What if I Only Change the Metal or Color of Gold?

 If you are simply changing the color of gold, it may not affect the price at all. All three colors of gold have the same amount of pure gold, the only difference is the alloy used to create the color change. This means that the price should not change based on the color of gold alone. There is a small difference in the finish of a white gold ring because it requires a plating of rhodium (a bright white platinum family metal) in order to get the pure white look you expect. Rhodium can add an additional $100-200 to the price of a white gold ring. Yellow gold and rose gold rings do not require any special finish and should have the same price. Usually jewelry manufacturers offer all three colors of gold for the same price.

If you change the karat of gold from 14k to 18K, the price will reflect the difference between a ring comprised of 59% gold and a ring comprised of 75% gold. Changing a piece of jewelry from gold to platinum will increase the price due to the fact that platinum jewelry is all platinum, with little or no alloy, meaning you are paying for 90-100% precious metal. Depending on the weight of the metal, the change in price for platinum can be as little as $300-400 or as much as double.


What If I Only Change the Shape and Size of the Center Stone?

Simply changing the shape or head style is an inexpensive way to customize your engagement ring.

Aside from the price of the stone itself, the difference in price is due to the labor to change the center head (the prong arrangement that holds the center stone securely) and the increase in the amount of gold required to securely hold a larger stone. The resulting customized ring can be priced the same as the original if it is simply made to hold the same size diamond in a different shape. If the center stone is larger, the price of the ring will go up accordingly, usually resulting in a difference of $100-$250 for the larger head (depending on the degree of size change). In the case of a substantially large center diamond (3ct or more), the price of the head can increase by 100-200 per carat.

 What if I Use an Heirloom Center Stone?

If you are bringing your own heirloom diamond to be set in a new ring, the price to set the stone is usually between $100-300 depending on the shape and size of the diamond. If you are purchasing a diamond to be set in a ring, the setting fee should be substantially reduced or complimentary.

What Does This Mean for Your Budget?

Gabriel collection of customizable engagement rings at Thollot & Co.

When you “customize” a piece of jewelry, you should expect to pay for the actual degree of customization and not for a “custom” piece of jewelry. With this background information, you may find you can customize a piece of jewelry without spending any extra money at all.

Key Takeaway:

If you find yourself working with a custom jeweler but they are simply changing the color or center stone in a ring they already have in stock and calling it a custom piece of jewelry, you should ask if there is a way to have the ring made by the manufacturer in the way you want it made.  Since the manufacturer already has the CAD design, a change in the color of gold or shape of the center diamond may not change the price. If the diamond is larger, some manufacturers will make the change without charging more if the change is within a carat or two of the original.

At Thollot & Co., we differentiate between custom jewelry design and customizing jewelry

This means the price you pay is equal to the degree of change. We’ve chosen to work with vendors that allow us to customize jewelry with little or no change in pricing so that you get the value you deserve!

We also offer custom jewelry design from idea through production, all phases done onsite, and we are known for both our skills and our competitive pricing. In order to decide if a fully one-of-a-kind custom jewelry piece is right for you,  book a complimentary consultation to work with one of our designers to determine which process is best for you. If you are simply customizing a ring, we can get that done for you for the least price possible, sometimes with no change in price at all!


For more information, follow our series on Custom Jewelry! In the upcoming weeks, we will add important information you should know when considering a custom jewelry piece: How is custom jewelry made, How to find a qualified jewelry designer, 10 protips you should know before designing your custom jewelry, and How much does it cost to make custom jewelry...plus many more informative articles on this topic!