Understanding the custom design
For my nineteenth birthday, I wanted something very special. My desire was for a custom made hunting knife. I did my research through the hunting magazines and found the names of a dozen firms that specialized in handmade knives. I chose the Randall Made Knife Company, a firm in Florida. I chose them because of their reputation, number of years in business, and the fact that it was family owned, and a trade passed down through the generations. I did not know until years later that Randall Made Knives had become collector’s items.
When it came time to pick my knife, I scheduled my vacation in Florida so that I could visit the Randall Made Knife Company. They had a small showroom with hundreds of knives on display, hundreds of letters from satisfied customers, and a catalog with dozens of designs from which to choose. When it was my turn to step up to the plate, I discussed my custom order with one of the sons of Randall. I described the features I wanted and the style of handle I preferred. He wrote up my order, and handed me a bill for 50% of the purchase price. He informed me that I would receive a letter in the mail when the knife was finished, that final payment was due before the knife would be shipped, and not to call to check on the order. He then estimated the approximate time to completion... 18months.
I received my bill approximately 18 months later, sent my check and within a few weeks received my collector’s item, heirloom quality, Randall Made knife. It came in a box with a slip of paper that said they were now running 30 months on custom order knives. That is two and a half years for anyone who does not want to do the math.
That was my first bout with custom order. It happened again a few years later when I wanted an automobile with a specific color, specific interior and certain features. I waited four months. I began to understand that if it is different, if my order did not come right off the assembly line as a standard piece, I would wait. Both of these institutions were large businesses. The Auto dealer was Ford with tens of thousands of employees. Randall had less than twenty.Jewelry by Michael has one full time and two part time designers. Still we manage to produce most pieces in six weeks or less. Every once in a while we get a real stinker of a design that plagues us with do and redo until it is finished to our satisfaction. As designers, we do not want a piece of jewelry out there with our name on it that we are not proud to say “that is our design.” It is part of the custom design “game.” In the past. Some designed pieces have taken 12- 14 months to complete ( time included for finding the right materials, gemstones, and design that is pleasing to all).
However, there is something to be said to the benefit of anyone who comes to own a custom, JBM, one-of-a-kind design by Michael. The true satisfaction comes from telling your friends...”There are six billion people in the world, but there is only one of these.” Not even branded, big-name jewelry designers can make that claim for the majority of their jewelry. We love that, and THAT is custom design.