When not playing with rocks, one of my favorite forms of therapy is cooking. Crank up some music, pour a drink, and lose myself in the chaos of becoming equal parts artist, chef, and mad scientist.
Today I found myself up early, wrestling a heavy bowl of homemade pizza dough so that it will have time to ferment for a few days prior to hosting a small group of friends and family this weekend.
I can prepare a palatable pizza in well under an hour with a bag of flour and a jar of sauce, but these - crafted from a measured blend of Tipo 00 and semolina, kneaded by hand, and topped with sauce made from whole San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh basil from the garden - will take literal days.
Okay, what has this got to do with jewelry?
"Custom" is a word that gets thrown around loosely in our industry.
Many stores order a band from one catalog, a setting from another, wait for Fed Ex to arrive, et voilà (or, should I say, ed ecco?): Custom jewelry!
I suppose in a liberal sense of the word throwing two parts together could be custom, but in the same way that a frozen pizza is technically the same as a handmade pie.
Mass manufactured components slung together in a manner that values expediency over quality.
I won't say there's no time and place for frozen disks of sauced preservatives, but pushing the "pizza" button on your microwave hardly makes you a chef.
Up a rung are the jewelers who do actually take the time to carve a wax, to cast, to set stones; but whose ultimate goal is to finish your job and move on to the next. No conversation, no dedication, just moving towards the next paycheck.
Think of this as food for sustenance, not flavor.
Ranging from store bought crusts to perhaps all purpose flour and a jolt of instant yeast, cheap jars of sauce, and maybe a wilted veg.
If all you want is to refuel and keep moving, this gets the job done.
But what about labor of love pizza?
The pizza you had on vacation six years ago, and still talk about?
The "I remember where I was, and who I was with when I had the one" pizza?
Jewelers too choose between jars of sauce, and San Marzano tomatoes.
We have the choice to knead the dough and let it ferment, or throw it together last minute and hope for the best.
There can be a place for both so long as you know which you're getting, but the reality is just as many restaurants promise fine dining when they're really nuking frozen pizzas, many jewelers promise fine jewelry when they're really picking up a catalog and peeling the Made in China stickers off the boxes when they come in.
There are no legal requirements to put "fine jewelry" or "master jeweler" on a sign. There are also no formal requirements: No certificate, no diploma.
There is no agency checking to see if a store's "custom" means catalogs or craft, and rarely any repercussions for abusing the term.
You deserve better than that.
There is a reason, besides being busy, that we take a little longer to create our jewelry than some of our competitors. It's because we're actually creating.
There is a reason, besides being designed, set and finished in America, that we sometimes cost a little more than what you might find at the big box store - although you might be surprised to find that we sometimes don't!
With J. Fox Custom, we have committed to building fine quality because it's what we love.
No catalogs, no Made in China stickers.
We design from the ground up, working with you one-on-one every step of the way.
We sort, measure, and hand-pick our diamonds and gems instead of just grabbing what fits - creating specific layouts for each piece to match your needs.
We spend time hand-setting each stone when we could have cast them in place, or cut corners to get the job done quicker. Not because it's cheaper, not because it's more efficient... Because it's better.
From the time spent designing, to the machines we use to grow the wax, to the alloys we choose to cast, to the men and women who set and finish each piece - we have built our business with the goal of creating pieces that are a step above what you're likely to find in most stores.
There are plenty of alternatives, some poor and some decent, but when you're looking for something truly special you want a company that won't cut corners. We're proud to put our name on what we do, and excited to see what you do with it.