I get a lot of questions about my work, such as, "What goes into making jewelry?" or "Why does it take so long?" So I would like to explain a little about my process, for those who are interested.
I always start with a rough idea, just shapes in my mind, it starts off very loose, like a passing thought or those moments when you are doing something completely unrelated, then inspiration hits. I then begin to sketch, a lot of times in the beginning the sketches aren't pretty they are just ideas flowing out. I always say designs go through several "ugly duckling stages" before they emerge as the beautiful swan. After several rounds of sketches I will come up with a more final sketch, and then I spec out the detailed measurements, figure out what stone sizes I need, how much gold it will take to make, etc.
Here's an example of the first round of sketches:
And then a more final sketch (which I sometimes do on .psd or .ai)
Then the final piece:
As you can see the first round of sketches is very playful and free, its just drawing whatever is coming up for me at that moment, sometimes I will draw over 50 rough sketches before moving on to the more final design phase of things. And even in the final design phase, where oftentimes I use design software to make things more exact, I will still do sometimes 30 iterations to get it "just right". This is what years of formal design training does to you! The design process is truly a journey, and sometimes you come back to an earlier iteration because you can go too far and sometimes kill a piece by working it too hard.
Here is an example of a design that came out one one of the first go-arounds, because, although rare, that can happen as well! I drew this ring, the Echo Ring, one day when I was staring out the window, and the design just came to me. When I drew it, I got so excited because I knew this was the final version. I couldn't wait to start prototyping. In this case, I had to make several waxes and gold castings in order to figure out the settings and angles. Sometimes, the design portion is easy and the process becomes more of a technical puzzle that you have to figure out. I am a strong believer in form following function but they are equally important.
The most important thing about the process is that it's not a one-size-fits all approach. There is a basic formula, but I like to remain fluid, open to new ways of doing things, trying new techniques or softwares, I like trying new pencils, sometimes marker, sometimes I like to scan in sketches and modify them in photoshop by adding existing stones, it all depends on the piece itself. It's all about staying inspired and knowing how to creatively solve problems when they arise, and having an eagle eye for detail!