What to Expect at a Consultation

let's chat about your jewelry needsDid you know I offer free consultations?  Yep.  Absolutely free.

In fact, consultations are one of my favorite parts of the job. It’s my time to sit down, getta-know-ya, and figure out how I can make your jewelry dreams come true.  It makes me feel like a jewelry fairy-godmother.

A consultation is an essential part of the custom jewelry process.  It’s a jewelry design strategy session, and my goal is to combine 1.) my aesthetic and 2.) your needs with 3.) the materials we have (or want!) into something you will love to wear. It’s like a fun, collaborative puzzle.

Custom Jewelry Starts with a Conversation

Here’s what to expect:

  • It will take about an hour
  • If happens to be a reasonable hour for indulging, (and my definition of “reasonable” is somewhat liberal) we can share an Adult Beverage
  • You’ll leave with a deep understanding of jewelry metals and the making process
  • Sharing pictures of your puppies and babies are encouraged
  • Once we’re done, we will both have a clear understanding of the project and the next steps.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

but kendra! i live in des moines and you live in oakland! how can this relationship ever work-

We can do the exact same thing with the magic of modern technology!

I do Skype or Facetime consultations all the time- the only difference is you will need to bring your own Adult Beverage.

So please, don’t be shy.  If you have a jewelry project you’ve been dreaming of, send me an email and we’ll get a date on the calendar.  I’m already looking forward to it.

Working with Heirloom Diamonds

let's talk about diamonds (1)

Diamonds.  They’re one of the hardest materials on earth.  They come in all shapes, colors, and qualities.  They are damn sparkly.

And we’re told they’re very valuable.

While diamonds will always have a market value, (okay, maybe not after the zombie apocalypse, but even then I’m not so sure) I believe we only get the true value of them if we enjoy them.  Which means wearing them.  Which means that you’re not getting any value out of that ugly 1970’s brooch in the bottom of your jewelry drawer from your great aunt (God rest her soul).

Let’s get some real value out of those heirloom diamonds and gems.

heirloom diamond jewelry

I get asked a lot if I can work with heirloom diamonds or gemstones, and the answer is yes, yes, ohmygod YES!

A lot of the work I’ve been doing lately is reimagining new settings for old gemstones and diamonds.  I remove the gems, recycle the metal, and reset the stones into something that will be worn and loved.  What I love about this process is that it’s true recycling-no new diamonds are being ripped from the earth or contributing to unethical and inhumane trade practices.  AND you retain all the wonderful sentimental value of something that belonged to a loved one.  It’s a win/win.

A few things to keep in mind when working with heirloom diamonds or gemstones:

  • Be sure you are okay with recycling the old piece- once we remove the stones there’s no going back
  • The metal that the stones came out of can often be refined and the proceeds can offset the cost of your new jewelry- bonus!
  • There is always a small risk when working with heirloom stones that a previously unseen crack or chip will emerge.  The likelihood is very low for diamonds which are incredibly hard, but can be higher for more delicate stones like emeralds or opals.  We’ll talk about the risk together before we remove the stones.

Do you have a pile of old jewelry you’ll never wear?   The first step is to start with a free consultation. We’ll look at what you’ve got and start working on a design for something you’ll truly love to wear. Dust off those little sparklers! Let’s bring them out into the world!

The Custom Jewelry Process

No consumer product makes my senses tingle more than something that’s been made for me.  A leather bag that can be cut to my specifications?  Drooling.  A custom-mixed perfume?  Coveting so hard.

Custom jewelry is often the most meaningful for my clients, whether because we’re using heirloom stones, or creating something for a very special occasion (like an engagement!).  Approaching a custom jewelry project can be very intimidating- many first-timers don’t know where to begin.   Instead, they just let those old diamonds sit around gathering dust at the bottom of their jewelry box waiting for “someday” instead of turning them into a fabulous ring.

I’m here to tell you that’s diamond abuse.

I want to take the mystery out of the whole process by showing you each stage of production for a set of custom bangle bracelets I created for a client last year.  By watching the project develop, you’ll see what it’s like to work with me on a custom design from start to finish.

Phase One: Inspiration

Raw materials for custom made bracelets


At our consultation and my client showed me this old pile of jewelry.  There were some great raw materials but my gal wasn’t wearing any of these pieces.

Let’s face it.  It’s because they’re ugly.

I removed the stones and what popped out at me?  We had a gorgeous palette of purple and blue stones to work with.  That got my creative juice flowing and I began to start envisioning the design.

At this phase of a custom project, I’ve chatted with my client about what she wants, and I know what materials we’ve got to work with.  To move forward into spending time on designing and sketching, I ask for a small deposit that will apply towards the total for the final piece.

Phase 2: Design and Sketch

handmade custom jewelry design

I always design my custom work within my aesthetic.  That means you can expect clean bezel settings, simple silhouettes, and rich textures. Because we had such a variety of stones, I thought sprinkling them around a set of bracelets would be fun.  No matter which way the bracelets turn, there is always something different to sparkle up at you.

Each sketch comes with an estimate for the total price of the finished piece.  I always stick to my estimate unless we decide to change the scope of the project at some point later down the line, which is pretty rare.   After my gal approved the sketch and estimate for the bangles, it was time to put them into production.  At this point in the process, I ask for a 50% deposit on the estimate so I can buy materials and begin actually making the piece.

Phase 3: Wax Model Production

Custom jewelry gemstones

Each stone needed a custom setting carved in wax.  I carved each one, and then delicately assembled them into their bangles.  You might be thinking, “Wow, that looks like a lot of work!”

You would be right about that.

wax models for custom bracelets

Each bracelet form had a lovely organic texture.  I always show my wax models to my clients before we cast them into gold.  That way, if we need to make a change, we can do it easily and inexpensively.

Once everything looked perfect I passed the finished models on to my casting artist.  She took the waxes, made a one-time-use mold, and cast them into 14K white gold.

Phase 4: Casting and Finishing

unfinished castings for custom bracelets

I spent lots of time cleaning, sanding, and finishing all that gorgeous gold.  After putting a final mirror polish on the inside, they went to my diamond-setter extraordinaire to have each unique stone fixed into it’s custom setting.

Phase 5: Final Stone setting

And that’s how we got here.Custom Bracelets by Kendra Renee

Once the piece is finished I deliver it into your eager little hands and collect the remaining balance. That’s it!  Mystery solved- this is how a custom piece of jewelry gets made from start to finish.

Now go paw through that jewelry box and dig out those old pieces you never wear!  Let’s make them into something you love.



Cast Your Own Wedding Rings at Double Pour

One of the most magical and fun moments I experience with my clients is when we cast their rings together at Double Pour.  What’s Double Pour, you ask? And why the heck is it called that? Read on, my friend, and all will be revealed!

Cast your own wedding bands with Kendra Renee

I don’t mean to get all mushy-gushy on you, but I love the symbolism of wedding rings.  They represent love, a promise, a lifelong bond.  They represent each couple’s unique relationship, each person’s unique love.  (I know, it’s smushy.  But I can’t help it!  I think it’s great.)

For something so personal and full of meaning, it feels a little counter-intuitive to pick something out of a catalog, or buy something out of a display case at the mall.  You should be involved.

I’m talking hands-getting-dirty involved.

I’m talking fire and steam, melted metal and rough edges involved.

That way, this huge important symbol that you’re going to wear on your hand every single day for the rest of your life is something that you helped create.

Double Pour

This was the inspiration for creating Double Pour.  Here’s how it works.

I work with my awesome couples to design their perfect wedding bands.  I carve their custom ring models in wax, and I take those waxes to my casting artist extraordinaire Jena Hounshell in her downtown San Francisco workshop.   My lovely, adorable couples join Jena and I in the casting studio where we alloy, melt and pour the molten gold into a one-time-use mold made from the ring models I carved.  Each couple will quench their hot mold, watching the steam and bubbles explode off of it, and reach into the fragments of the destroyed mold to pull out their brand-new gold wedding band.  It’s a pretty magical moment.

After all the gold has been poured and cast, we’ll celebrate with our second pour: champagne! (Remember?  It’s called Double Pour).   One simply cannot celebrate properly without bubbles.  I think it’s a law.

If you want to get a better sense of what Double Pour is like, here’s a little video I created.

I am so blessed that I get to make these gorgeous and meaningful objects for a living.  Please join me!  For more information, visit my Double Pour page.

How To Find My Ring Size

What is my ring size?Finding your ring size can be tricky, but it is oh-so-important when you are shopping for a wedding band or engagement ring.  If you’ve been wondering how to find your ring size, I am here to help!

I created this video to walk you through the process of measuring your ring size.  You’ll also find some more tips for getting an accurate measurement below.

Other tips for measuring your ring size:

  • Always use a ring sizer that is approximately the width of the ring you are buying.  Use a wide sizer for wide rings and a slim sizer for slim rings.

How do I find my ring size?

  • Start with a large size and move down- if you start with a size that’s too small it may get stuck and cause your finger to swell, leading to an inaccurate reading.
  • Remember that the “-” marks mean “and a half”.  So an “8-” is a size 8.5.

How can I measure my ring size?

  • You know you’ve found the right size when you can take the ring on and off with some difficulty (but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable to wear), and another person can’t pull the ring off your finger.
  • Lots of factors can affect your ring size- room temperature, salt intake, hydration level, hormones…you get the idea.  If possible, measure your size on several different days to get the average.   This is especially important if you are buying a ring with stones all the way around as it may be difficult to adjust the size.

Women's diamond rings by Kendra Renee Jewelry

  • Gents, if you’ve never worn a ring before it’s probably going to feel weird at first.  You may think it’s too small, but you’re probably just not used to wearing a ring.  Give it a few days of wear before you think about adjusting the size.  A ring that’s too big is VERY easy to lose.  And you don’t want that to happen!
  • Made a sizing misstep?  Not to worry, most rings can be sized.  I always adjust the size of my  handmade wedding rings once for free.

What is my ring size?

A properly sized ring will feel comfortable- so comfortable you will forget it’s even there.  If you need any help sizing, please make an appointment to visit my studio.  I will help you size your finger for the perfect fit!