Do you need a design expert on staff to excel in custom work?

“You need someone who can view a person as a piece of art in order to create a custom piece of jewelry art.” Babs Noelle, owner Alara JewelryBozeman, Mont.THE ART OF THE UNEXPECTED: Custom jewelry must be based on the customer’s body type, facial features, and other distinguishing characteristics. Sometimes you have to interpret emotions—and that’s where creativity and design elements come together. One lady came in with sandwich bags full of Montana sapphires her husband mined when he was alive. She didn’t even know what she wanted. Her instructions were: “Create a piece of jewelry that represents how unexpected life is.” Noelle’s Montana sapphire thumb ring, an ode to life’s “unpre-dictability”LUCK OF THE DRAW: Pure creativity without a way to confine and control it makes me say, “Danger, Will Robinson.” That’s why we always start every project with

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