FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here at Neelam Lara Designs, we know that the value of our jewelry to our customers goes beyond the cost.
We have prepared a list of FAQs about our products to help guide you in getting your next treasured jewelry with us.
We are always available to discuss with you, should you have any other questions about our designs and services.
What are the services you offer?
Neelam Lara Designs takes pride in designing Bespoke pieces of jewelry, customizing the jewelry design and manufacturing according to the requirements and budget of the individual, a retail outlet or a wholesale organization. We offer a wide range of customization options, from designing stunning new jewelry to re-fabrication of your existing heirloom pieces. We can also design and create new jewelry using your own gems or other materials which you may have received as inheritance or procured on your travels.
What types of gems / semi-precious stones are available for custom design? Are there any certifications available?
A wide range of precious, semi-precious, organic, phenomenal gemstones are available for the customer to choose from. However, if customers require gemstones which are not readily available with us, we can arrange to procure it within the customer's price range and quality parameters. Generally, solitaire diamonds come with Certification. Others such as gemstones do not come with certificates; however, for these certification can be done at the request and cost of the customer.
How can I order customized jewelry? Can you explain the process?
Custom design is the best way to achieve your personal preference in jewelry. If customization is done on a beloved heirloom piece or an unusual gem material, then the end product is original and unique to you. The designer Neelam Lara will guide you through the jewelry trends and various options, including your face structure and personality, to help you choose designs and styles that are perfect for you. Process: For Customized Jewelry, kindly make an appointment with the designer Neelam Lara. Neelam operates out of Singapore, and she is available for in-person meetings at Singapore, and also available for virtual meetings via Zoom, Facetime or Skype for customers not situated in Singapore. After the first initial idea consultation, if you are satisfied with what the designer has to offer, we can begin the design process, based on your personality, desire, preference, requirement and budget. At this stage a small deposit is required for me to begin the design process. (Equivalent of SGD 250). Initial Design: We will provide 3 broad design options / concepts based on your stated preference or requirement. Once you choose an option, then we narrow down our design concept and offer another set of 2 designs, closely following your inputs and advice. Final Design: Once the initial design is confirmed, we will make the final design draft in actual size, and will provide design, measurement and gemstone details and a close approximate budget. From 2 decades of experience I can share I have never exceeded my quotation, however given the current times where the precious metal prices are soaring by the day and the dollar fluctuation is quite significant, the quotation given is only a close approximate. If at this stage you want to walk away with the design only, you pay an additional SGD 250 (total design charges SGD 500, including initial design charge of SGD 250). However, if you decide to go ahead with the manufacturing with us, then it does not involve additional design charges. The design stages generally takes between 1-2 weeks. Manufacturing: Once the design and quotation is finalized and approved by you, an advance deposit of minimum 30-40% is payable at your end. This primarily helps me to block the precious metal rate, so you do not have to worry about fluctuating metal prices. The production process begins once we have your advance, we keep you informed and involved at a few stages before completion. If the estimated budget is expected to rise, we will inform you and take your written approval to proceed, or alternatively we may mutually agree for some production alterations, to keep to the original budget. The final balance payment would be upon delivery.
I have an old piece of jewelry, can you customize it for me?
At Neelam Lara Designs, we take pride in customizing heirloom jewelry. As a designer it gives me immense satisfaction to recreate or refurbish something that is of sentimental value to you. It may be a piece of jewelry that you have inherited, but which you are unable to wear in its current condition. Sometimes, with a little fixing, polish changes and re-stringing it becomes as good as new. Sometimes, you may be able to use the gemstones or pearls, and redesign them to make something more contemporary or classic to suit your desire. Many a time the inherited piece may be damaged beyond repair, or the metal shine and design are too loud for your taste; in such cases we will need to dismantle the piece, carefully remove the gemstones and melt the metal. We send the metal for purification and then treat it as advance towards new metal. We never make jewelry with your existing metal as alloying at every stage reduces the purity of the metal.
What if I am not sure of what I want? If I have a reference image, can I get it duplicated?
If you don’t know what you want, we will help you come to a conclusion, by understanding what existing jewelry you possess, understanding your personality, your budget and by sharing with you design trends, jewelry fashion forecasts, references of jewelry made in the category you desire, ensuring you come to a conclusion and are happy with it. As long as you are convinced by our designs, we will be able to help you make the right decision, and we will take the journey with you. It is a simple way to reach to a conclusion, either by your preference or by the process of elimination. In my 2 decades of designing, I have always succeeded in understanding the design requirement of the client, on the basis of the jewelry category, size, use of gemstones, styling and pricing. If you come with a design reference, we can work around that, however please note we will not be able to replicate someone else’s design.
What are the price range of custom jewelry design?
The price range of custom jewelry depend on the complexity of design and materials. A daily wear ring in gold with a small diamond or only colored stone is far less expensive than a solitaire ring, where the solitaire diamond is the most expensive element. Similarly, a pendant or pair of earrings can be a tiny daily wear item requiring minimal gold, while a wedding jewelry set is complex and large in size and will come at a higher price. The price of custom-made jewelry made from heirloom pieces, depends on the amount of changes required. A small alteration requires minimal spending, whereas a complete change in look will come at a larger expense. At Neelam Lara Designs, we are happy to make jewelry of your choice; it may be piece of tiny jewelry weighing 5gm, or a heavy jewelry set weighing up to 300gm. Jewelry begins from SGD 500 onwards.
Is my custom design one of a kind?
Neelam Lara Designs owns the rights to all our designs. If your custom design is made specifically for you, and is very distinct because of gemstone selection, or if it has a gem or jewel part that belongs to you, we will not duplicate it. For more simple designs and daily wear products, we cannot promise that the item will not be recreated. However, as a courtesy to each client we will always try to alter the design slightly when remaking for another client, so your design always remains unique.
I want a simple jewellery that can be used for daily wear, can I buy something from the website?
My ready to purchase collection is not available at this present moment, and we will look to build this over time. If you want a daily wear piece you can browse through the “DAILIES” collection; if you like anything from the library, we can custom-make something similar for you. If not, we can design a new piece to your specifications.
Are all your designs available on the website?
No, my website will not have all my designs. I design my jewelry under various collections to cover all genres of design, and the website contains a few samples under the different genres. There are 6 design collections, under which Jewelry is designed and classified, so as to enable you to make a choice, and enable me to understand what category of jewelry you are looking for customization or pick up. The daily wear collection is called Dailies, the fun and gem rich collection is called GEM Eloquence, the classic and precious gem collection is called Timeless & Eternal, the wedding collection is called Magnificent & Grande, the other collections are Fanciful Filigree & Woven Opulence. The mini library of designs, from all 6 collections will help you decide the styling you are looking for. However, if you are keen to go ahead, we can do a face to face meeting in person or virtually, so that you may see more designs from my design bank, in the design category of your choice.
METAL RELATED FAQs
What metal choice do I have for my custom-made jewelry?
At Neelam Lara Designs, custom-made jewelry is primarily made in Gold and its various karatages. According to your preference, jewelry can be made in 22k, 18k, 14k or 9k gold. K is an abbreviation for Karat implying the purity of gold. GOLD 22k gold: Is best suited for organic textured jewelry or if jewelry has minimal gemstone setting. 18 k gold: Most jewelry at Neelam Lara Designs, is made in 18k gold. All uncut diamond jewelry is made in 18k only. 18k gold is malleable and perfect for setting gemstones. It is a combination of 75% pure gold and 25% alloy. 14k gold: It is an appropriate metal for diamond /gemstone setting. If you want more affordable jewelry, or you want the gold color to be less flashy, you can reduce the purity of gold to 14k. 9k gold: Generally preferred over silver, as it does not tarnish like silver does. Furthermore, it is affordable as the gold purity is much lower: 37.5% is pure gold, rest 62.5% is alloy. Combination of metals : Sometimes, we offer designs in a combination of metals to suit customer design or requirement. Generally, we use a mix of silver and 14k/18k gold. SILVER Very rarely do we make a piece of jewelry in Silver alone. We will generally do silver with a mix of gold. Silver tarnishes over time, hence its is not an appropriate metal choice for formal or expensive gemstone studded jewelry. On rare occasions we have made exceptions, and made jewelry in silver, to please regular customers. PLATINUM It is a heavy metal and very expensive. Generally, Solitaire rings, earrings, and pendant are made in platinum at customer request.
Can you explain the different karatages of gold. What is the difference between karat and carat?
Karat is a unit used to measure the purity of gold. Carat is a unit to measure the weight of diamonds and gemstones. Gold can be made available in various purities or Karatages . 24k gold is 99.95% pure. (Gold is in its purest form; not used for jewelry) 22k gold is 91.66 % pure gold and 8.34 % alloys. Alloys can be a mixture of silver, copper or zinc. 18k gold is 75 % pure gold with 25 % alloys. 14k gold is 58.33% pure gold with 41.67% alloys. 9k gold is 37.5% pure gold with 62.5% alloys.
What is Rhodium plating? How long does it last? Is it safe for my skin?
Rhodium is a precious metal from the Platinum family, it is silver-hued, highly reflective and does not corrode or tarnish. Rhodium is plated using an electroplating process. It means plating, or layering the metal surface (0.75 - 1 micron thick) to give a shiny white appearance and to safeguard the surface against scratches. It increases the shine, lustre and durability of the piece of jewelry. It is most commonly done on white gold to give an even white appearance, or on silver to give a shiny appearance. Sometimes diamond prongs on yellow gold jewelry are also rhodium plated, to enhance the brilliance of the diamonds. Since it is plating, or surface treatment, it will wear off over time, revealing the underlying natural yellow or white gold colour. Depending on how often you wear the piece, and how much wear and tear it undergoes, it may need to be plated every few years. Daily wear jewelry may need plating more often, while occasion wear jewelry retains the rhodium finish for many years. Yes, Rhodium plating is safe for the skin, as it is hypoallergenic. Rhodium does not contain any allergens such as nickel, which creates allergic reactions to the skin.
GEMSTONE RELATED FAQs
What are the 4 Cs in a diamond; is it applicable to coloured gemstone?
Diamonds are created by tremendous heat and pressure deep within the Earth. This complete organic process can take millions of years during which a diamond is subjected to different conditions leading to different colours, size, external and internal blemishes and inclusions. Until the middle of the 20th century there was no standard for judging diamond quality. The Gemmological institute of America (GIA), created the first and now universally accepted standard for judging a diamond quality, by categorizing a diamond based on its COLOUR, CLARITY, CUT, CARAT WEIGHT. The creation of the 4 Cs allowed the diamond quality to be communicated in a universal language allowing customers to buy according to their preference of colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight. COLOUR The GIA Diamond colour scale starts at letter D and goes all the way to Z. D-devoid of colour (colourless), E-F, extremely slight tint, G-J-slight tint, K-M- noticeable tint, N-W- obvious tint. X-Y, faint fancy, Z -fancy colour. The colour less diamond (D) is most valuable; however most commonly, diamonds occur in slight yellow, brown or grey tint. When a diamond has enough intensity of colour to become attractive, or has a distinct colour, yellow, brown, pink, red or blue, it is classified as fancy coloured diamond (Z). The most rare of these are Red, Blue and Pink. CLARITY Clarity is also known as purity. Most diamonds contain internal inclusions or surface blemishes. Each diamond is unique, like a fingerprint, and their internal characteristics differ in size, shape and quantity. Diamonds with very few internal characteristics are deemed to be of higher clarity, ranging from Flawless (F), Very very slightly Included,(VVS1, VVS2), to Very slightly included (VS1, VS2), to slightly included (SI1, SI2) to being Included (I). The higher the clarity the more expensive the diamond gets. CUT A diamond’s brilliance is largely determined by its Cut. An ideal cut diamond with perfectly symmetrical and aligned facets will reflect light beautifully, creating maximum, "Light” and “Fire” leading to unparalleled brilliance. Cut relates to 2 particular areas- Shape and Make, consisting of dimensions and proportions. The most popular cutting type is the Brilliant cut, which is identified by having, triangular and kite shaped facets, which tend to radiate out from the centre of the gemstone. Less common facetting styles include “Step cut” and “Mixed cut". CARAT WEIGHT In ancient times, the carob seed was used as reference for weight. This lead to the word Carat, the unit of weight we use today. The metric carat is defined as 200 milligrams (or 1 gm is equivalent to 5 carat). All Gemstones are sold “per carat”. When documenting the word carat is written as "ct". Great precision is involved and weight is noted up to the hundredth unit (.01) at all times, eg .95cts. Due to rarity of larger sizes, it is usual to find that per carat prices does not increase proportionally to size. A 2 ct diamond will cost substantially more than twice the size of one carat. The 4Cs are not applicable to colored gemstones. Colour is the most important aspect in a coloured gem.
What is a synthetic diamond or gemstone? What is the difference between synthetic Diamond and Diamond simulant?
A Synthetic Diamond or Gemstone, is that which is reproduced by man, in a laboratory using artificial process. They possess the same optical, chemical and physical properties as naturally occuring diamonds or gemstones. A Diamond Simulant is any colourless, transparent gem material which looks similar in appearance to a diamond. Sometimes the resemblance is very convicing and confuses the end consumer. However, the optical, chemical and physical properties of a diamond simulant are very different from naturally occurring diamonds.