Technology has come a long way, but did you know that it can help you get pearl and diamond jewelry that no one else has? American Pearl is a company that is offering computer-aided design (CAD) can help you design the jewelry of your dreams, while you sit in front of your computer!
In case you don’t know what CAD is, it is the use of a computer to create and modify or optimize a design. It’s been used for a long time in all sorts of technical ways for many applications, including automotive, shipbuilding, and aerospace industries, industrial and architectural design, prosthetics, and many more. CAD is also widely used to produce computer animation for special effects in movies, advertising and technical manuals, making designs in reality possible that could never have existed in the past. But now, it is available for consumers for a most unusual purpose. through a company called American pearl, and I got to try it. here is my report.
When it comes to pearls, there is a huge variety both in type, size , color and quality. One of the things I really liked about the American Pearl Web site is the Education Section which has all sorts of information to help you figure out what to purchase, including some interesting videos. There is an even more extensive education section on American Diamond. Even if you are not in the market right now for pearl or diamond jewelry, if you visit the American Pearl and American Diamond web sites, you’ll learn a lot to educate yourself for future purchases.
The choices when purchasing anything online, let alone jewelry, can be overwhelming. The American Pearl (and American Diamond) web sites are not just full of information, they are really user friendly. Just for an exmaple, I’ve snipped the list of possible jewelry choices on American Pearl:
Once you have figure out what it is you want to buy, you can go to that section, and either buy one of the designed pieces, or where it is available, design your own using the CAD feature. That is where the real “magic” is. I was offered the opportunity to design a pearl ring. It was very easy (and fun) to do. I’ll take you through the steps:
First you have to choose an available design. I chose the Tahitian Pearl Ring Crest that is shown as-is for $295.00. The fun begins when you click on the ring and go to the page where you can customize the ring. Be aware that depending upon the metal you choose including precious platinum and 18K gold, and the stones you select, the price will vary (mine was about $100 more with rubies).
Now that you’ve chosen your design, you get to play with the CAD feature, selecting the pearl you want (I chose the -Tahitian– Natural Golden South Sea Pearl Cultured Pearl). FYI: I chose this pearl because I have warm skin and I like the look of warm pearls next to it, and I thought the golden color was more unusual than pink or white. The South Sea Pearl comes from Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Thesr pearls come from the White Lipped Oyster. They are naturally white, cream, or golden in color and are often referred to as the “queen of pearls” because of their size, beauty, and luster.
I played around with the side stones for a while, not quite sure what would look best. There are suggestions for good combinations at the bottom of the page which I ignored, and later which I hadn’t as the rubies really didn’t look as nice with the finished product as I had hoped –after all, I’m not a jewelry designer, just someone who loves jewelry. In retrospect, the diamonds or a complimentary color such as citrine, would have been a nicer combination. As far as choosing the base of the ring, I chose the standard 14K based on price. I really liked the look better in 18L which was a bit brighter. These are choices you have to make when designing your special ring, but the additional cost is not hidden so you can figure out what your ring will cost you if you want that “extra.”
You can choose to put an engraved message in the ring at no extra charge and there are four fonts including one in elegant script. Alas, in a ring with a thin band, my myopic eyes can’t read what I requested, without a magnifying glass. But it’s a nice touch, especially if you choose a ring with a wider band or this is a for a special occasion.
When you are happy with the finished product you click DONE and pay. Total cost for my ring was just $331 and free shipping. Then you wait for your ring, which was under 10 working days (it might even be quicker if not during holiday time). You will get a page that shows you all the information about the ring you designed. You will get a print out of this in the impressive gift box that you receive from American Pearl, as well.
HOW LONG DOES THE ORDER TAKE? It depends upon what your order is and how you choose to ship it: Complimentary Shipping is available via Fedex Ground for all domestic shipments within the US. Production time will vary depending on items ordered. A tracking number will be sent to you as soon as it is ready to be shipped. All shipments are sent from the American Pearl New York office, so delivery time will vary by location. Overnight and Saturday Delivery is available for an additional fee, but note that not all items are available for next-day arrival. International Shipping is available, and must be selected during checkout for all shipments outside of the US. Packages will be sent through the United States Postal Service and are subject to local customs, duties and taxes. Delivery times vary based on location. As far as Insurance and Signatures, all packages shipped from AMERICAN PEARL are insured for the purchase price through transit. Once the package is signed for and received, its contents are no longer insured so you will want to be sure that someone is available to sign for your delivery. If you would like to waive the signature confirmation, you may enter the request in the comment field of your order but then the package is no longer insured once it is left at the delivery location.
WHAT ARRIVED IN THE BOX? The box arrived with a jeweler’s cloth, a velvet drawstring bag, and a hard-sided red ring box. Inside was the ring, just as you see it in this photo. My first impression was: WOW! The packaging and presentation was excellent. And the lustre and color of the pearl was simply gorgeous. Although I haven’t had it appraised, I did look at other (ready made) rings online and this ring was comparable in price to some, but seemed a lot higher quality even in photos. In addition, I got the chance to design it and I didn’t have to leave my computer to do so. That alone, was a plus and would be for anyone who can’t visit a reputable pearl merchant in their town or who wants a specific type of ring, engraved, in a hurry. This is also a plus for American Diamond.
If there is a downside, it’s that most of us are not jewelry designers, and it’s difficult to know how your ring is really going to turn out until you see it in person. While the quality of the pearl is lovely, the base of the ring is in my opinion, while substantial enough for a smaller pearl, was too small to support the large pearl in it. I would have liked to have been given the option to upsize the base and the size of the accent stones, even if I had to pay more for that. You can see the actual Vs the CAD drawing side by side above. I personally would have liked that base to be larger and had I known how small the stones would look, especially when not in diamonds that reflect and sparkle more, I would have chosen differently. Still, the ring is beautiful and well worth the money.
WHAT ABOUT VALUE: So let’s talk about value: How can you trust something you haven’t seen in person? For starters, when it comes to the CAD design it is pretty much WYSISYG. I think my photos above, prove it. But when it comes to quality, you really don’t know that a Diamond merchant or pearl dealer is giving you the best price or quality, either. According to American Pearl, they can offer pearls (and diamonds on American Diamond) at less than traditional-store prices for a number of reasons, but they aren’t paying the costs of bricks and mortar stores, and also they are owned and operated by a major American Pearl importer: so they buy direct from the same firm that procured your pearls from the harvesters in Japan, Australia, China, Tahiti and Indonesia. By cutting out all the middlemen, they can offer higher quality items, at less cost. As a consumer, I would be wary if I hadn’t samples the wares as I have. But I also like the fact that the company doesn’t appear to be concealing anything. There is a lot of information about the company and about the products, including an entire section on assurances, references, testimonials and guarantees so you can judge for yourself if you want to buy from the company. There is a money back guarantee as well.
THE BOTTOM LINE: As an experience, I would rate American Pearl as an excellent one. It was fun to play around with the CAD, and although I’m not a pearl dealer, I really do think the pearl I received, based on other pearls I own and other pearls I’ve check out, qualifies as a good value. The presentation was excellent, the delivery time, very fast considering this is a fairly customized product. The added touch of free engraving is a plus as well. For anyone who can’t get out to shop or doesn’t want to shop, for those who want something customized and in a hurry, for those who simply don’t have access to high quality products, for anyone who wants to get a value and try something new, American Pearl gets a thumbs up from me. Just be sure you know what you are ordering and think twice before you click the “done” button…is that the design you really want??? If you aren’t sure, stick with the suggested designs or order one of the ready-made rings. Prices start at just a couple of hundred dollars for some of the pearl jewelry.
If you are thinking of purchasing an engagement ring, one way to figure out what you want as a couple, is to go to the American Diamond Web Site and play with the CAD. It will not only open up discussion for the two of you (for the future, or for right now) but you might find that what you thought you wanted, isn’t what you really want at all. The CAD really is a learning process worth taking the time to try. You might just order an inexpensive piece first on American Pearl, before you go “all out” with something extravagant, or design that engagement ring at American Diamond. But it’s really fun to design your own and make something no one else has.
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE AMERICAN PEARL WEB SITE http://www.americanpearl.com/