Behind the Scenes: Custom Rings

Appalachian Trail custom mountain ring

My very first custom ring was of Long’s Peak and Mt. Meeker. Oh my gawd, I’ve come a long way since then. And that was just this past summer.

Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker
Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker

The custom rings started out as just a few requests for a custom outline, from a few eager customers. I didn’t really have a complete process, but I still made sure to start on the computer BEFORE jumping in to the metal. I would create a quick outline in Illustrator, show to the client, and then create. Nothing fancy, just bare bones sketches, with a simple title in a word document.

Yikes. That was soooo not professional, but it worked! After a couple of instagram posts of my shiny new creations, I started getting messages about custom rings from all over the globe. I pretty much realized I needed an overhaul of the current one-off custom ring process and everything that went with it. And here’s what that currently looks like:

Custom Ring Document from Lovely Baubles
Custom Ring Document from Lovely Baubles

Each custom ring starts out as an idea – it could be a special place the customer visited, the first mountain they summited, a summer vacation on a crystal clear lake with regal mountains in the background. Every custom mountain ring has a story, and I literally jump right in and learn all I can about the mountains my customers pick.

I pour all of that knowledge and inspiration into a concept document filled with ideas for their ring. I start with a picture they’ve sent, or another one I’ve found or taken that would make a great outline for a ring. Rings are so small, you have to pick the right outline that makes sense visually!! Once I have my outline created, I move over and start creating some variations on a theme – outline style, filled-in style, textured, simple, etc. Not only does this document serve as a starting point and template for the ring, but it gets the customer excited! It’s so cool to see your design come to life – even if it’s just on screen for the time being.

Usually, I get it right the first time. So modest 😉 Every now and then, the design requires a small tweak. Once the design is approved, I create a tiny version of the design and print it out. That tiny little outline gets taped to the sterling silver and cut with my saw. Sometimes the designs are so small I have to nerd out and wear my magnifying spectacles to see all the small cuts I’ve got to make. From there, I measure the silver wire to the length of the ring and get to soldering it to the mountain shape.

After a lot of forming, cleaning up, finishing, and sometimes plating, the ring is complete. I love creating all of my pieces (if I didn’t, I wouldn’t make them!!), but custom rings are just such an absolute joy to make. I’m usually smiling during the whole process, and I often push myself further than I thought I could go. I’ve come a long way from that first custom ring I did!!

Do you have a favorite mountain range? If so, let me know! And, you should certainly have a ring of it 🙂

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