Having a custom diamond necklace made. Question about cost breakdown
May 10, 2015 5:20 PM   Subscribe

As a gift to my fiancee on our wedding day, I'm planning on having a necklace made out of a diamond that is an heirloom. The diamond is a small pear shape (a little under half a carat) and is currently set in a ring, surrounded by several small diamond chips. I took it to a local jeweler that has a good reputation for being great to work with and fair on price.

I chose a simple design, putting the diamond in a gold setting and making a halo using the diamond chips and then having them provide a few more to fill it all out.

The price they quoted me on the necklace with just my single diamond in a gold setting was $450. Adding the halo element, using my chips and a few additional (she said it's about $10 for each chip) would be $950, plus $100 to set my diamond into it (the labor cost).

I'll be going back this week and probably going forward with it, as well as asking for a bit more detail on the cost breakdown. My main "curiosity" is the cost breakdown of the additional $500, plus $100 for the diamond setting. Why not just say it's $1050? I'm not understanding why that cost of setting the diamond is broken out as a separate fee when it's totally integral to the necklace. Also, I know the diamond itself is the priciest part of the necklace, so why such a big jump from $450 to $1050 just by adding in the chips around it (the cost of the chips I'm paying for will probably be something like $150).

I realize I can possibly go somewhere else and get another quote but I'm very happy with the vibe of this jewelry store and the way they treated me. I also know they have a reputation for fair prices so my question here is really just to get a sense of whether this seems right, what questions I should be asking and whether I can maybe get some insight into custom jewelry costs.
posted by arm426 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gold is really expensive, and it will require far more gold to set the main stone plus halo than it would require to set the main stone alone. In fact, the tinier the chips are, the more gold that halo will require (because you need gold between each chip, so the smaller they are, the more gaps have to be filled with gold).
posted by amelioration at 5:28 PM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's also a lot of workmanship required to put a halo around the diamond, so you're paying for labour as well. The diamonds themselves at that size are essentially worthless but the gold and man hours are not. When I was looking to do something similar, I actually ended up buying a pre made setting from a place in China. Because labour was cheaper, so was the cost.
posted by Jubey at 5:57 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about jewelry, but as a datapoint, a few months ago, I had a largish (1 carat) pear shape diamond reset from a diamond to a 4-prong pendant, and it cost under $200, without a chain. It was done by a big chain of jewelry stores.
posted by mchorn at 6:33 AM on May 11, 2015

It's common for jewelers to break out the cost of materials from the cost of labor — one doesn't directly affect the other. (For example, a heavy gold wedding band would have a high materials cost but would take an experienced jeweler very little time to fabricate and finish; a delicate silver filigree ring would have a low materials cost but require much more time to make.)
posted by Lexica at 8:28 AM on May 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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