What have we been up to?
It’s been just over a year since we announced the re-launch of CustomMade as a custom jeweler, so we thought we’d step back to take a look at this past year. As you can imagine, we’ve been very busy! Here’s just a few highlights of what we’ve been up to during these past 12 months.
- We designed, created, and shipped 2,754 pieces of jewelry to our customers, delivering to 53 countries, each of the 50 US states, a couple US territories, and dozens of military and diplomatic destinations.
- Our customers left us 1,132 reviews for the pieces they designed with us. 98% (1,108) of these were 4 or 5 star reviews.
The core of our business is a service that connects customers with our team of artists, gemologists and jewelry experts to provide advice, consultation, concept art, and, ultimately, an expertly crafted piece of fine jewelry. We believe that’s the only way to offer a truly custom, personal and meaningful experience. And that means we send a whole lot of messages, create a ton of artwork, and take loads of photographs.
- Our team of jewelry consultants, design leads, support managers, and gem specialists sent just shy of 100,000 messages as part of delivering those 2,754 pieces. 99,768 to be precise.
- And we sent just over 100,000 messages discussing options and design ideas with customers who have not yet made a purchase. 108,232. But who’s counting?
- Our artists created over 4,000 concept sketches for more than 1,100 of our customers. Every jewelry design is different, but it appears that we present an average of 4 concept drawings to our customers on our way to finding the right design.
- Our photographers captured more than 14,000 beautiful photos of the pieces we shipped. And those are just the ones we felt were good enough to keep.
What have we learned?
We could fill hundreds of blog posts with all of the things we’ve learned this past year. But you wouldn’t want to read that. So here are five interesting learnings from this past year:
- Yellow gold is gaining ground, but it’s still the least popular engagement ring metal. 70% of our gold engagement rings have been made of white gold, 16% rose gold, and 14% yellow gold. But when we look at our signet ring and pendant projects, it’s quite the opposite. 62% of these are made in yellow gold, 33% in white gold, and a mere 5% in rose gold.
- Turtles are a surprisingly popular theme for bridal jewelry. I mean, we’re only talking about a handful. But we’ve made half a dozen engagement rings with a turtle as the inspiration… and we couldn’t have predicted that!
- When you only make one of everything and you never make the exact same thing twice, in-house specialists are the key to success. Creating an intricate signet ring requires precise design and production techniques. Sourcing the perfect large solitaire diamond center stone requires thoroughly vetted supplier relationships, specialized diamond photography, and knowledge of which diamond characteristics matter and which ones don’t. But from the $350 signet ring to the $20,000 engagement ring, each customer values and treasures the piece they create. So we need to have experts on the team who can ensure these very different customers are thrilled with the outcome.
- To quote High Fidelity: “What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.” This rings incredibly true for a small set of our customers. They’ve formed relationships based on a shared love of Harry Potter or Zelda and it’s incredibly fun for our artists to come up with creative ways to incorporate these pop culture references into engagement ring designs we lovingly call geeky. As finished pieces are photographed, some of us like to test each other’s geek-spertise by seeing who can spot the subtle reference behind a new design.
- Customers are increasingly open to non-diamond engagement rings. And when you start exploring colored gemstones, you realize just how many incredibly cool options there are for gems. Our last 10 instagram posts have included smoky quartz, lab-made alexandrite, pearl, morganite, rose quartz, citrine, garnet, and aquamarine. Oh, and there were some diamonds, sapphire, and emeralds in there as well. In the past few weeks, we’ve custom cut a faceted Ethiopian opal and a violet-tinged pink morganite cushion. Sure, diamonds are still by far the most common center stone, but we give our gem sourcing team a workout with requests for Padparadscha Sapphire and Benitoite.
We’ve had a great year. We’ve seen phrases like “at first I was skeptical” in so many of our 5-star reviews, and were thrilled that these reviews ended with really satisfied customers. We’re going to keep working hard to exceed expectations and help a lot more people learn what the custom jewelry experience is like.