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At What Price?

Breaking down a custom piece, fee by fee

This is one column in an occasional series focusing on how custom designers price their work to ensure they remain competitive, cover all costs, and (of course) make a profit. Here’s how the staff at Art of Jewelry by Joel McFadden in Red Bank, New Jersey, arrived at the final charge for a multi-strand white gold bracelet.


The client was an avid gemstone fan and retired so he had lots of time to watch the shopping channels on television and online. He supplied 10 large fancy-colored sapphires as well as 24 smaller oval fancy-colored sapphires for the bracelet. No additional stones were needed.

Total Fee: $0


The client had a concept in mind for the bracelet that was loosely based on an existing yellow gold bracelet his wife had but wanted in white gold. He had taken the time to lay out the design in a CAD-like fashion using both a pencil engineering drawing as well as a color map.

Total Fee: $0


One of the first things I’ve learned in custom projects like this bracelet is to select the clasp first, assuming the client doesn’t want you to spend hours in CAD creating something unique. In this case, the client was happy to go with a standard white gold, three-strand bracelet clasp that we sourced from one of our suppliers.

Total Fee: $521


Half of the larger bezels were sourced from a supplier and then modified; the other half were fabricated from a strip of 14k white gold flat stock. All 24 of the bezels for the smaller stones were ordered from a supplier and then modified to fit the individual stones.

Total Fee: $2,451

Chain & Jump Rings:

Although we had initially thought we would order chain and cut it into segments, we wound up hand crafting the chain links along with the jump rings to connect the bezels from 72 inches of 14k wire.

Total Fee: $471


The project wound up taking 27 hours of labor over the course of just over a month.

Total Fee: $3,240

Final Price:



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