The Inside Scoop on Custom Jewellery
Costen Catbalue’s Mary Ann Buis discusses client involvement, personal preference and why custom jewellery just makes sense
It’s no wonder Kitsilano’s Costen Catbalue Goldsmith + Design has acquired international renown. The Vancouver-based boutique combines the creative talents of Andrew Costen and Mary Ann Buis, two of today’s most prestigious jewellery designers. In fact, Costen’s Symphony of Colour bracelet was just named Best Use of Platinum and Colour by the 2016 AGTA Spectrum Awards, adding to an impressive list of accolades that includes De Beers Diamonds awards for both designers.
The award-winning goldsmiths merged their unique approaches to jewellery and unanimous preference for handcrafted designs in 2000. They have been creating stunning custom pieces, timelessly refurbished items and breathtaking ready-made designs in partnership ever since.
As several special occasions approach this season, Mary Ann Buis shares insights into the jewellery design process and explains why custom pieces don’t cost more.
1. How does the custom jewellery creation process typically begin?
We make an appointment with the client to discuss their lifestyle and design concept and to look through images of my past custom designs for reference. From there, we make the diamond and gemstone selections, I do some sketches, finalize the design and make a model to show the client. This gives us the opportunity to make any changes and to determine the price. We also invite the client to view their piece before the final setting of stones and they always have the option of a third party appraisal upon completion.
2. How do you and Andrew balance your personal styles with your clients’ own design visions?
First, we listen to clients’ wants and needs and work with them to give them a variety of options. I personally prefer more contemporary lines, but that may be different than what the client envisions. Our end goal is always to ensure the client’s wishes are achieved.
3. What would you say is the biggest misconception regarding custom jewellery?
Cost. People often presume that custom jewellery will be more expensive than a manufactured ready-made piece, which is not true. Our work is made directly in the shop, cutting out the middleman, and the quality of the workmanship is always higher than jewellery bought “off the rack”.
4. What do you find most satisfying about your work?
I enjoy working directly with a diversity of clients on projects ranging from clean and simple styles to problem solving certain complicated designs. But most importantly, I love witnessing each client’s pleasure when they see the finished piece that we have created together.