Article by Margot de Boer for Scarsdale Moms
With nearly 20 years under her belt at the world’s top jewelers and diamond houses, Amy Chang has become many a girl’s best friend. Leaving no gemstone unturned in pursuit of her clients’ happiness, this GIA-certified gemologist and Scarsdale mom of two recently carved out a path to do what she loves right here in Westchester. At Canary Jewel’s office (by appointment only) in White Plains, Amy uses her knowledge and connections to the highest quality gemstone and pearl purveyors around the world to design one-of-a-kind pieces that will uniquely suit their wearer.
In addition to bespoke and ready-to-wear jewelry, Amy and her team are masters in jewelry redesign and updating. Ever wondered whether there was something you could do to turn a cherished but outdated family heirloom into something you’d actually want to wear? Or perhaps you’re itching for your solitaire engagement ring to get a little accouterment this holiday season (here’s your hint to forward this to your husband). Read on as Amy shares some pearls of wisdom that explain just how she creates her clients’ dreamiest bling.
Consider the Piece’s Desired Intention
Is this something you’ll be wearing every day, like an engagement ring, or is it a special occasion piece? An everyday piece needs to be able to withstand wear and tear; the gemstone, type of metal, and overall design features all need to make sense for you to end up with a piece that can be beautifully maintained. Some people care most about style, while others are more focused on having the best quality gemstone for their budget. A good jeweler will ask questions and steer you away from any less-than-dazzling decisions given your priorities.
Start The Process With a Budget
Knowing how much you are willing to spend, even if it’s a range, is key for your jeweler to suggest the best combination of style and gemstone changes for the desired end piece. Amy says you’d be surprised what a difference resetting a stone can make if you have a more limited budget, and not to be shy to book an appointment and see what’s possible rather than keeping a beautiful stone buried in your jewelry box. While her bespoke designs typically range from $10K to $100K, redesigns and remakes can be accomplished with incredible results at more modest budgets. To go from a solitaire ring to a halo, for example, starts around $3,500, with the cost increasing as the stone size does (a bigger stone requires more melees and material). Most jewelers, including Amy, will also provide a melt credit after the metal has been tested.
Know How To Describe Your Style
Many of Amy’s clients come in with beautiful pieces they have inherited from their families that are outdated or in need of repair. After understanding the intention and budget, Amy next wants to know what styles of jewelry the client typically likes. Bringing inspiration images of jewelry you love (whether you own it or not) is a great idea to help give your jeweler a directional starting point, especially if you lack the lingo to describe what you’re drawn to.
If you’re designing a piece for someone other than yourself, Amy often finds that their personality can be a good indicator of their style! If you can’t get pictures of pieces a person already owns, being able to verbalize that their personality is feminine and refined would steer Amy away from suggesting anything bulky or super modern, for example.
Keep Your Lifestyle in Mind
When redesigning a piece that will be worn often, Amy always asks about the client’s lifestyle. If you work a lot with your hands, for example, she will not suggest any type of gemstone that is vulnerable to impact for a ring or bracelet design. Amy notes emerald, opal, and pearls are not well suited for daily wear as they can all be easily damaged.
There are ways to get creative, though! If a client has a favorite stone or a treasured ring that they don’t want to keep tucked away for special occasions, Amy might suggest incorporating it into a pendant or pair of earrings that can be worn more frequently in a way that’s less susceptible to damage.
Know and Trust Thy Jeweler
To know if someone is trustworthy you need to look at what that person has created in the past and if they are transparent every step of the way, Amy says. Any client who books an appointment with Canary Jewel will gain access to her massive portfolio of past pieces that she has created or reworked to aid in the creative process.
Credentials are important as well as work experience: Amy received her Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) and Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.) certificates from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) – the leading training and gemstone certification company in the world – in 2005 and has been working in the high-end jewelry industry ever since. At Canary Jewel, all carat-size diamonds are sold with GIA certificates; for diamonds that are less than a carat, a certificate is optional depending on the client. Certificates can also be provided upon request for semi-precious gemstones – Amy says you should be wary of anyone hesitant to provide certification and sourcing information. Relationships are important in the business, and it’s always a good sign when you can tell that your jeweler knows exactly where his or her stones are coming from (for example, Amy has cultivated relationships with the best pearl farms in Japan and the South Sea).
Don’t Be Afraid To Think Outside the Box
One of Amy’s most memorable designs didn’t start from a piece of jewelry at all. A client once came in with a piece from a broken plate that she had kept from her wedding ceremony decades earlier. “We mounted the plate onto a pendant, and used emerald and other gemstones to complement the porcelain pattern; every time she looked at the necklace and held the pendant in her hand, she was reminded of all the sweet memories. Getting to be a part of stories like this is why I love my job!” Amy encourages clients not to hold back on sharing their ideas or personal anecdotes, however crazy they may seem, as part of the fun is imparting your personality into the final design. Engraving and hidden gems with special meaning are common ways to inject your signature, but as the plate story shows, when you work with Amy, anything is possible!
Her final piece of advice? “Buy what you like and don’t pay attention to trends. Spend the money and time on the design so you get something that’s uniquely you and you’ll love forever.” You can make an appointment with Amy by giving her a call at 646-709-5989 or via email at [email protected].
About Canary Jewel Inc.
Canary Jewel Inc specializes in bespoke, high-quality jewelry design and redesign. Founded by Amy Chang, a GIA-certified graduate gemologist with 18 years of experience in the high-end jewelry industry, Canary’s team of jewelers’ exacting natures and mastery of classic design elements enable them to create one-of-a-kind pieces that encapsulate the persona of the wearer, enhancing their natural beauty through carefully chosen jewelry materials. With client privacy always a top priority, Canary Jewel is open to the public by appointment only at its office in White Plains at 10 County Center Rd, Suite 304.