You’ve Got It Made

As the custom-work market continues to grow, more jewelers are returning to the bench to take business into their own hands.Joel McFadden started out as a bench jeweler in his grandfather’s Charleston, S.C., store in 1972 and has come full circle professionally. He recently traded his traditional retail jewelry store for a custom-design business, where he creates unique pieces tailored to his clients’ preferences. McFadden is part of a growing movement of jewelers who are reconnecting with their creative sides. At a recent panel discussion in Chicago, jewelry store owners detailed the benefits of replacing vendor lines with their own handiwork. The move lessens the burden of costly merchandise overhead, reinforces store brands instead of vendors, and renews the level of fun for jewelers, many of whom became bench jewelers because they loved to make jewelry.Custom-only or near-cust

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