FAQ

1. How long does the process take?
Most of our custom pieces can take between 4-6 weeks for completion. We can often do pieces in a shorter time frame, however we may have to make fewer and faster decisions between steps. We can take longer as well, depending on the project. Often, after the initial design consultation we figure about 2-4 wax sessions a few days or a week apart, and then we move into metal and stone setting.

Our busiest times of the year are June/July/August for wedding season, and then late November and the month of December for the holidays. This time of year it is recommended to give us as much time as possible to complete your project.



2. Do I have to make an appointment?
No, an appointment is not required but it is recommended. You are always welcome to drop in and check out the shop, look around, and ask questions. An appointment is recommended if you are ready to start discussing your project, or if you want our undivided attention. If you drop in and we are with an appointment or trying to get something ready for our next meeting we may not be able to sit down with you to discuss your project at length.

It’s never a bad idea to call before you come down to make sure we aren’t out on an errand or in the middle of a casting party or a design session.

There is no charge or design fee to make an appointment, and we welcome you to call and set one up if you are curious about how we can help you!



3. How much will it cost?
It is a common misconception that custom designed jewelry is expensive. While it is true that hand crafting a piece of jewelry is more expensive than mass produced jewelry made by the thousands, when you buy from us you are purchasing directly from the manufacturer. Many jewelry stores offering custom design jewelry send their work out, making the end result more expensive. We do our work in house, and don’t charge “designer” fees, so the cost can be quite reasonable. There are no surprises here when it comes to costs, and we narrow in on the pricing starting at your first design session. Every project is different, and we will give you ball park estimates and then narrow in as the process moves forward.

The great thing about designing a piece with us is that we never nickel-and–dime our customers. We encourage our customers to let the design process work, meaning that we don’t charge for changes to the wax model, design time, stone setting fees, etc.. Our system rewards the process of letting serendipity and evolution lead us to the perfect design, and we encourage changes in the design and wax model that make each piece truly unique.

We would love to meet with you in a free and no-obligation design appointment to talk about your project, and then we can help you figure out the costs involved, we think you will be pleasantly surprised!



4. What if I don’t live in Seattle?
Well not everyone can live in our fair city! We have designed jewelry for people all around the country and all around the world. Thanks to email, great digital photography, and the US postal service, we are able to give you nearly the same custom design attention as our Seattle area clients. We can discuss via email and phone much of the design, and then we carve our wax models. We take multi-angled photos of the wax with notes, and email those to you. Once you think the wax looks good, we will mail you the wax model for you to see in person. This way, you get to see the item in 3 dimensions of exactly what the piece will look like before we cast it in metal. Then, once approved, we cast the item, polish and set stones, and then mail the piece to you via USPS registered insured mail which is secure and well trusted in the industry. The only catch? When you do come and visit the Emerald city, you should come by and let us give your rings a clean and polish, and a chance for us to visit with you!


5. What about conflict diamonds? Are your stones and metal ethically sourced? How can I be sure?
Here at Goldmine Design, we care about the planet and all of the people on it. We have used conflict-free gemstones and diamonds as well as recycled precious metals for many years, as it just makes sense. Our precious metals (18k white and yellow gold, Platinum, and Palladium) are all 100% recycled from our refiner on the east coast and our platinum/palladium caster in Portland. They are committed both committed to the environment and you can read more about that here:

http://www.unitedpmr.com/environmental_commitment.php
https://www.hooverandstrong.com/harmony-at-hoover-and-strong

Our gemstones and diamonds suppliers also have a strong commitment to the environment and fair labor practices. Because diamonds and gemstones can pass through many hands before they arrive here at Goldmine design, the industry adopted some safeguards to make sure the chain of supply remains above board. We purchase our gemstones from small, independent supply houses that purchase their rough directly from the miners in the country of origin. We use only suppliers that are highly regarded within the jewelry industry and belong to accredited gem trade associations. We do not purchase gems or diamonds “off the streets” and every gem we have we know who supplied it, and where they procured it. This accountability and chain of ownership is only possible in a small shop like ours, where we have built personal relationships with our suppliers, many of whom go back 30+ years. In fact, many of the new “conflict free” and “ethical gems” jewelry suppliers on the internet purchase from our suppliers, but only after we have first pick!

 


6. Can I bring in my old rings and melt them into a new piece?
We absolutely encourage people to bring in their old pieces that they would like to recycle, re-use, or re-invent. We can reset gemstones, diamonds, and pearls into something new that suits your style and personality.

We can take your old gold, platinum, and silver towards a new project, however we won’t remelt them into a new ring. Gold, platinum, and silver all have different alloys, and even in a simple solitaire ring you can have up to 3 different alloys that make up one ring. If we mixed more than one type of alloy together, the casting quality will suffer. We have used the same 18k white, 18k yellow, and 14k rose gold alloy for the past 25 years because it is functional, casts and polishes well, and has proven to be durable. If we mix many metals together, we sacrifice the quality and potential durability of the item. In addition, when we make a piece of jewelry we use more metal for the pathways for the gold and the “button”, which will get cut off and recycled into the next casting. So, instead we will sell the old metal that you have to our refiner, and use our metal to make your piece. The value is the same either way, and we pay the highest rate in the industry for your old precious metals directly towards the project and we itemize all items and discuss their value before we move forward.

We have, in some circumstances, used pieces of the old jewelry, for sentimental purposes, in the new ring by making them design elements added on after the main piece is cast. They can form a small feature, edges of a ring, or other creative uses. We have also remodeled jewelry directly by adding or taking away parts of the piece to make it something special for you.

We are always happy to show more ways this can be done at your design appointment, and discuss all of the options before proceeding.

bad-casting-trans

 


7. Can I bring in my old gemstones and diamonds? Do you sell Gemstones and Diamonds?
Yes! We love helping our customers take their old diamonds and other gemstones and turn them into a piece they will treasure and wear. We are happy to help evaluate any gemstones you may have, and decide how they can be best featured in a new piece of jewelry. We do not charge a “setting fee” and feel that diamonds and gemstones should be liberated from old jewelry that is out of date or not your style, and made into something you can wear!

And Yes, we sell all types of gemstones, from diamonds, colored diamonds, sapphires, rubies, birthstones, pearls, drusy, agate, meteorite, tanzanite, coral, amber, fossilized dinosaur bone, etc… You name it, we can find it! We have developed a network of gemstone dealers over many years, all across the country and the world that each offer beautiful and unique gemstones. All of which are just a phone call away. Our industry works on a borrowing system, meaning that we can borrow in just what you are looking for, in a nice variety to choose from. We keep what we like, and return what we don’t. This enables us to basically have unlimited inventory, and we don’t have to try to sell you on what we happen to have in stock at the time. For example, if you are looking for a special sapphire, but aren’t 100% sure about what shape or color, we can borrow in a few stones of each and then you can make an informed decision.

With diamonds, it is especially important to choose these in person. We will borrow in a selection of diamonds, and then spend time together looking at them under a high quality microscope so you can see the inclusions for yourself while we give you the education to make the best choice. Just like a litter of puppies, the diamonds may have the same grade (pedigree) but there is one that is the best match for you!

One of the advantages of this borrowing system, is that we purchase our stones one a time. We pick the very best gemstone every time, rather than purchasing dozens or hundreds of stones at a time and having poor quality stones mixed in that we end up having to use.

Both Cindi and Mary Elizabeth have years of experience working with high quality gemstones and know how to help you pick the right stone for your project, so let us know what you are looking for and we will find it for you!



8. Do you have a selection of ready made jewelry for sale?
Yes! In addition to our custom designed pieces, we also have a lovely selection of stock jewelry for sale. In addition to designs by Cindi and Mary Elizabeth, we showcase jewelry made by long time friends of Goldmine Design: Tina Baker, Barbara Gannis, Charlie Faddis, Mandy Faddis and the originator of Goldmine, John Winters! We have a wonderful selection of earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, and gemstone strands for sale, as well as trays and trays of loose gemstones just ready for a new project. Curious about what we might have? Call or email us and describe what you are looking for and we will send high quality photos of pieces that fit the description or better yet, come down and check them out in person! We are always up to something!

goldmine-gallery



9. What about titanium? I’ve heard you can’t cut off a titanium ring, is this true?
This is one of the most common misconceptions we hear here at Goldmine, as well as one of the most common questions. We do work in titanium, but not Tungsten Carbide. Tungsten Carbide is a heavy dense metal that cannot be cut or polished here, and can not be cut off of a finger in an emergency. The only way to remove a tungsten carbide ring is by breaking it off the finger.

Titanium is a lightweight durable metal that is hypo allergenic and yet soft enough for us to cut and create interesting patterns and designs on. The titanium we use is CP-2, which means Chemically pure 2 on a scale of 1-5 (1 is softest, 5 hardest). We create many rings in titanium, from the simple designs that can be turned on a lathe, to custom patterns that are carved on a milling machine that we built, you have infinite choices of design with titanium. Even though we don’t cast the titanium, we carve the designs directly into the metal, we will still carve wax models for you to see what your ideas and designs will look like in 3 dimensions. We can hand engrave, set small diamonds, and use other colors of metals as well with our custom titanium rings.

goldmine-titanium



10. 18k white gold vs Platinum vs Palladium, Which one is best?
18k white gold is very durable, an alloy of 75% pure gold and 25% combination of nickel, copper, silver, and zinc. White gold is long lasting and holds its shine and shape well, and has a beautiful luster. It is wonderful for stone setting and is easily modified or sized down the road. The distinct disadvantage in white gold lies primarily in its color. Gold comes from the earth a deep yellow color, and though we can mix the gold with alloys to help it appear more white, it will never be white in color like silver or platinum. It will always have a slight creamy color to it, which some of our customers really like.

Most white gold jewelry that is mass manufactured is rhodium plated before it leaves the factory. Rhodium plating is a coating that is electro-plated onto the white gold, to give it a platinum-­‐white appearance. It will not chemically come off of the piece of jewelry with normal wear, but you can scratch past it with keys and door handles etc. You will likely notice this gradually as the tops of patterns and prongs, and the back of the ring start to “warm up” or look more yellow as the plating wears through. Then it is time for a re-polish and a re-rhodium plating. The downside to rhodium plating is maintenance, and many jewelry stores charge between $30-­‐60 to re-­‐plate a ring. Often people will re-­‐plate their rings every year or so. When we re-plate a Goldmine piece of jewelry we will ask you to make a donation which goes to the Pike Place Market Foundation so we can all help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Platinum is a beautiful and durable metal, which is comes naturally white in color from the earth. The advantages in platinum lie in its durability and resistance to wear. Instead of scratching or wearing away, platinum just “moves” out of the way, and will hold a stone securely for many years. Prongs made in white gold will likely need to be rebuilt after 10-20 years of wear vs. 20-50 years with platinum. Platinum is also hypo-allergenic, which is a great choice for those with nickel or other metal allergies.

Platinum is more expensive, more rare, more dense, and more pure than gold. Typically platinum is alloyed from 90-95% pure metal, and since it is more dense, will weigh more than an exact same dimensional piece in gold. This is why it has a higher price tag than gold, but the durability of platinum is worth it in the long run for many pieces.

Palladium is a sister metal to platinum, is 95% pure and is less dense than gold or platinum. It will wear away slightly faster than gold, but we really worry about that when it comes to prongs holding stones. Since it is a sister metal to platinum, it is also naturally white and won’t require the rhodium plating maintenance, but will still need cleaning and polishing. It also can be problematic when it comes to sizing, and would require Tig-welding to do so. Palladium is less dense than gold, so the cost of palladium is typically in a similar range to white gold.

As you can see, there is no perfect metal for any piece, rather there are many factors that will help you decide which is the right metal for your project. We often will discuss all of the options with you, and sometimes wait until the project takes shape before making the final decision.



11. Do you work in silver?
We do not do silver work here at Goldmine, with the exception of some silver repairs. Silver is a relatively inexpensive metal and lacks both durability and hardness, making it less than desirable for jewelry that is meant to last a lifetime or more. We put a lot of effort and work in to our pieces, and prefer them to be in a metal that will stand the test of time and hold its value, and we feel that silver does not accomplish that goal.


12. Do you do appraisals?
We do not offer appraisal services here at Goldmine. We prefer to send people to a 3rd party appraiser, who only does appraisals. This is to avoid potential conflict of interest, and will give you the most accurate valuation of your jewelry. You don’t want to over-pay, and you don’t want to under insure as well.

Stores that offer their “in store appraisal” are most often using those “appraisals” as a sales technique.

We recommend locally Alan Chappron and Larry Azose of Gemological Consulting Services here in Seattle. They do appraisals by appointment Monday‐Friday. 206-624-3798. For appointments call or visit their website: gemcsi.com

On the Eastside of Seattle, we recommend Northwest Gemological Services in Bellevue. They also do appraisals by appointment. (425) 455-0985

You should bring any old appraisals you have, as well as any other documentation on the jewelry that you may have. You can expect to pay $80-90 for most appraisals.

Before you get the appraisal done, make sure your jewelry is clean and is in good working order. You are welcome to bring your jewelry here for a cleaning and check, or if you are not local, most jewelers offer a “clean and check” service. It is best to have the piece in as good of shape as possible for the appraisal.

And, it should be noted, that a frequent visit to us, or a trusted jeweler, for a clean and check is a great way to prevent losses. We recommend every 3-6 months, and it’s a great way to bring the sparkle back! You may not notice those prongs wearing down, or a loose setting as you wear the ring and we will check over the whole ring and make sure it is in tip-top shape.

For more information about jewelry insurance and appraisals, please check out our in depth article HERE.



13. Do you do repairs?
Yes, we do fine jewelry repairs. Most of our repairs we do in-house, as well as having access to a laser welder for more difficult repairs. We can size rings, fix chains, repair earrings etc… The best thing to do is to bring the piece to us so we can evaluate it in

We do not repair costume jewelry, watches, or larger items such as serving pieces etc…, but we often can recommend someone who can person to give a quote for the repair. Because we are under a backlog, we ask for 1-2 weeks for most of our repair jobs.

We do not repair costume jewelry, watches, or larger items such as serving pieces etc…, but we often can recommend someone who can.