10 Minute Read
When we learned our friend Angela was going to design a new engagement ring with CustomMade, we asked that she record and review her experience for an IGS review. Find out how CustomMade took Angela from inspiration to design to her new ring - and what happened when Angela changed her mind twice along the way!
CustomMade is definitely unique amongst online jewelry sellers. Mostly because they don't "sell" anything. Instead, they actually MAKE every item, truly from scratch every single time. This means you get a higher quality item and something that truly is unique. They focus mostly on engagement rings and wedding bands, but they also make some amazing signet rings and other specialty jewelry.
While many online jewelers claim to do "custom" they're really just allowing you to "mix and match" different components to blend together a ring. If you want a version of the same ring everyone else has, this can work well. But if you want to do anything special or unique, you kind of need someone willing to start from scratch and do it right. That's what CustomMade does.
It's a very different approach…. basically CustomMade has an entire team at your disposal to help you create the perfect engagement ring. They have on-staff sketch artists (to sketch ideas with you), CAD designers, jewelry consultants, and of course jewelers. They make everything here in the United States, and their quality control is top notch.
Before we dig into their process, here's a few other places online where you can read reviews of their service and research them.
- CustomMade's Reviews Section. The Company hosts its own reviews, and they have well over 6,000 posted. Every time they make a customer's piece, they take professional photos of it and when a customer leaves a review, the photos of the piece they made are posted along with it. So depending on how much time you have, you can literally look through thousands of examples of past work by reading their own reviews page. They also have a strict review policy, so they don't take down the bad reviews - whatever is posted is what people are really saying.
- CustomMade's Reviews.io page. The Company collects reviews from verified customers on their reviews.io page. Some customer's post their own photos and videos here as well.
- CustomMade's Trustpilot page. There are several hundred reviews on TrustPilot. One thing in particular that we think is interesting is how the Company has responded to the very few customer issues it has.
- CustomMade's BBB A+ Rating. The Company has some BBB ratings, although not as many as in the locations above.
Here's how they do it.
Creating an engagement ring with CustomMade goes beyond the typical online buying experience, where you choose a stone, a setting, maybe have it engraved and that's your ring.
CustomMade first lets you explore the possibilities before matching you with the right team of people to bring your ring to life. And when we say team, we aren't kidding. Through your own personal jewelry consultant, you'll work with an artist, gem expert, 3D designer, and jeweler to turn your ideas into a real custom ring.
The CustomMade Engagement Ring Experience
CustomMade guides you step by step through the entire process of creating an engagement ring. Even if you know nothing about diamonds and engagement rings, CustomMade makes it easy to make something really special for your intended.
Step 1: Getting to Know You and Helping You Get to Know Diamonds
The first step is to get to know you, your future fiancée, and your tastes. CustomMade begins with a style questionnaire that includes a series of questions that will help your jewelry consultant understand what you're looking for. This is the part where you can upload images of rings you like, as well.
Next, they'll walk you through a series of guides to get you familiar with the diamond-buying process. You'll learn about the 4Cs of diamonds and how to play with color, cut, carat, and clarity to get a beautiful diamond that matches your budget. You'll also learn about fancy diamond shapes, fancy color diamonds, and other engagement ring gemstones.
Step 2: Sketching Out a Rough Draft
Once you're ready, you can connect with a jewelry consultant. The consultant will take your questionnaire and any photos you've uploaded and use them to start fleshing out design and style ideas. They'll talk to you about settings, center and side stones, personalizing the ring, and, of course, budget.
The results of that conversation are passed on to a jewelry artist, who will sketch out some ideas for you. You'll work with the jewelry artist to choose the one you like, and tweak it until it's just right.
Step 3: Finding the Perfect Stone
Next, you're on to the gem expert, who will talk to you about what's important for you in a stone and what your budget is. The gem expert will present you with an array of options, using 360-degree videos, that fit your budget. They'll work with you until you have the right shape, cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. If you want a fancy colored diamond, they will help you find the right shade and intensity.
Step 4: Giving Your Ring Form
Once you've chosen your gem (or gems, if you're considering a two-stone, three-stone, or other multiple-stone setting), it's time to see your creation in 3D. CustomMade will take your ring and your stone(s) to their CAD artist to create a 3D model.
This is your opportunity to see how it will look from every angle, and to make adjustments until it's absolutely perfect.
At this point, you will have received a ring-sizing kit to confirm the size of your ring. Keep in mind that CustomMade does not offer free resizing unless they get the size wrong.
Step 5: Finalizing Your Perfect Ring
Once you've given the thumbs-up, your 3D model moves on to CustomMade's jewelers, where jewelers will create the ring and provide the customer with high-res photos of the finished piece.
At this stage, you can have your ring engraved with either a message or symbol on the inner band for an additional $50.
Once you give the final okay, the ring is shipped to you.
The whole process runs through a direct messaging and project management system on CustomMade's website. You can send messages or chat via your phone or computer in real time. All of the ring details, sketches, videos, and discussions are stored in one convenient place, so you can review them whenever you like.
How Customizable Are CustomMade Rings?
A lot of online diamond retailers will put forth their ring-builder tools as a way to customize your engagement ring. And many do offer a wide array of diamond and gemstone options, as well as settings and ring metals.
At some point, though, their selection does become finite. If you don't see what you're looking for in their ring builder, you can contact them to create a one-of-a-kind ring.
CustomMade, however, doesn't offer a ring-building tool. They get straight to building unique ring that is 100 percent you.
CustomMade keeps very few diamonds in stock. Instead, they work with trusted diamond suppliers. That gives them the flexibility to offer thousands of natural and lab-created diamonds to their customers. Once they know what their customer is looking for, they can reach out to their suppliers to find just the right stone.
Because they work with so many virtual inventories, there's really no limit to what they can offer you. For example, while retailers like James Allen and Blue Nile offer ten different diamond shapes, CustomMade can get you any shape you like, from trillion, to hexagonal, to tapered, and anything else you can think of.
The same goes for fancy colors. If you're looking for something exceptional, say a salt-and-pepper or Argyle diamond, CustomMade can get it for you.
They can even have diamonds custom-cut to either contemporary cuts, such as the standard brilliant or radiant, more vintage looks such as a rose or old European cut, or even a Hearts and Arrows diamond.
Finally, if you're looking for an alternative to diamonds, such as moissanite or cubic zirconia, CustomMade can help you with, too. They also make rings with gemstones, such as natural or lab-created rubies and sapphires, or morganites and aquamarines.
CustomMade can make your ring out of 10K, 14K, or 18K, white, yellow, or rose gold. They also work with platinum and sterling silver.
The setting, style, and design of your ring, however, is completely up to you. They can create contemporary, art-deco, or vintage-inspired rings, like most engagement ring retailers. But the options don't stop there.
It's really up to you what your ring will look like. There are no templates and no restrictions.
Customer Service at CustomMade
Other diamond retailers offer live chat, email, and a toll-free number for questions. But you can imagine that it works a little differently at CustomMade. Since every part of the process goes through their platform, you are almost constantly in contact with someone from their team.
You can get in touch with your jewelry consultant at every step of the process, and they will already know the ins and outs of your particular ring.
That saves so much time, since you won't have to explain your particular situation every time you have a question.
Once your ring is finalized on your fiancée's hand, it comes with a lifetime manufacturer's warranty, as well as certificates of authenticity for all metals and stones. And, if any of your accent stones valued under $100 fall out within the first year, CustomMade will replace them for free.
They also offer lifetime customer services, so if you ever have a question or issue, you can get in touch and they will help you out.
One thing to note, however: since every ring is completely custom made, it cannot be returned or refunded.
They don't offer a traditional upgrading policy, either, since every design is created for your specific stone. It would be unlikely that another stone would fit in the same setting. But they will work with you if you need to replace the center stone for any reason.
But, again, at every step of the creation process, you are in control of how the ring looks, and CustomMade implements quality checks at every stage. So, it's pretty unlikely you're not going to like the ring.
How to Save Money on CustomMade
What you spend on a CustomMade engagement ring depends, of course, on the metal, stone, and design features you choose. That's why, at the beginning of the process, CustomMade lets you explore diamond characteristics and the kinds of trade-offs you can do to stay within budget.
A fancy-cut diamond, for example, tends to be less expensive than a round brilliant, while fancy-colored diamonds are always more expensive. To save even more money, you can choose a lab-created diamond or a moissanite.
If your heart is set on a natural round diamond, you can go for an eye-clean diamond, rather than a diamond with a high clarity grade. That means the diamond looks clean to the naked eye, although it may have flaws and inclusions visible when it is magnified.
When it comes to metals, white gold is less expensive than platinum, and 14K gold is less expensive than 18K gold, although it is softer and more prone to scratching and denting.
The whole process at CustomMade is set up to let you play with all of these options until you get the ring you want at a price you are happy with.
CustomMade hosts its own FAQ here, but here are a few questions we've gotten from readers.
1. How much does CustomMade com cost?
Because each piece is custom built, the price of your CustomMade piece will depend on the choice of diamond, accent stones, metal type, and complexity of the design. Most engagement rings will cost at least $1000 but can cost well over $10,000 depending on the ring you design. The main factor in the price of a CustomMade engagement ring is the center stone, which can be a diamond or moissanite stone if you are looking for a less expensive alternative.
2. Is CustomMade a legit site?
CustomMade is a very reputable site where you can work with some of the best jewelers in the industry to create your own custom ring. You can browse through thousands of reviews with photos on the CustomMade website if you're needing inspiration and want to see reviews from real customers. They even have a series of warranties to make sure you are fully satisfied with your custom ring and will modify or remake it at no cost if you are not.
3. Is CustomMade jewelry worth it?
If you're on the hunt for a truly unique, personalized engagement ring, CustomMade is the perfect site for you and will be worth every penny. Most other online jewelers offering custom pieces only allow you to select from a few different options, but CustomMade sets you up with a team of artists, gem experts, and designers to make your perfect ring from scratch.
4. Where is CustomMade located?
CustomMade is based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, but your unique piece can be crafted at one of many carefully selected workshops around the world. It all depends on the needs of your piece and who is best suited to craft it.
5. Can I use my own gem with CustomMade?
Yes! They design pieces with customer-provided gems all the time and have a whole process for it.
6. Why should I use CustomMade?
Using CustomMade is an experience to create something meaningful. Throughout the entire process, you are adding to the story of your personally designed piece. You have a whole team committed to ensuring you get exactly what you envision. All of this for less than what you would pay at other online jewelers and the result is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
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