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Jewelry Making 101 with Nicole Elghanian

Jewelry Making 101 with Nicole Elghanian

Nicole made the cutest piece of jewelry not for me, but for Zaza’s 2nd birthday.

Not only do I LOVE the necklace, but I really noticed the quality & attention to detail Nicole put into it. She’s a badass entrepreneur and just such a master of her craft. As she put it, “jewelry is in her blood,” so I knew I had to have her on the blog to talk about all the things for you.

Jewelry Making 101 with Nicole Elghanian

In this post Nicole tells us the difference between all the golds & materials that can be used, things to keep in mind when creating a custom piece, plus the hot new trends for 2023, and the classics that will never go out of style.

With that, let’s welcome Nicole to the blog.

Jewelry Making 101 with Nicole Elghanian

Introduce yourself & tell us your background in the jewelry industry. We want your whole life story!

Nicole Elghanian: My name is Nicole Sarah Elghanian and I was born and raised in La Jolla, California. I have always had a passion for all things diamonds and jewelry. From the time I was able to walk, I was asking for jewelry (as you can see in the photo).

My maternal grandparents had a jewelry store in the diamond district on 47th street in New York City and my father is a local jeweler here in San Diego, California. I guess you could say that jewelry design runs in my blood. I feel grateful every day that my love for jewelry aligned with my family’s business. And I remember as a little girl, each year on my birthday, my grandma would give me a thin gold bangle bracelet. I was obsessed with these bangles. And wore them for many years until I got too old and my wrists outgrew them.

As a child, my parents tried enrolling me in lots of extracurricular activities like soccer.

I might have been the next Mia Hamm or Megan Rapinoe if it wasn’t for the no jewelry policy. Once they informed me of that one, it was all bets off. As much as everyone may have wanted me to be a professional athlete or a mad scientist, it was very clear I was destined to be a diamond girl!

Young Nicole Elghanian

In fact, from a very young age I insisted on going to my father’s jewelry shop. It was practically my favorite place to be. I was always in awe of all the diamonds, colored stones and gold everywhere. By the time I was old enough to help with selling, I was working at my father’s store. While there, I would often dream up and design special pieces for myself and my family. I’d sketch out the design I wanted and would work with our bench jeweler to bring my visions to life. 

People would often stop to ask me where my jewelry was from and if they could purchase it and that’s when Diamond Bar Jewelry was born.

Before starting my business, I attended the University of San Diego and was the first person in my family to graduate from college. I pursued a degree in Communications, as I believed it would help me tremendously in running the operations/advertising side of my business.

After graduating, my main focus became getting DBJ up and running. Starting a business is definitely a lot of work, but so worthwhile and rewarding. I find inspiration for my designs all around me and I find myself constantly thinking of new ideas on how to elevate different styles that I see while out and about. I have always loved to make beautiful and dainty pieces that catch the eye. These pieces have become the focal point of my line. My goal is to create dainty yet unique pieces that are great quality, and at an affordable price point. 

What are the 3 things people should look for when purchasing a piece of jewelry?

NE: When purchasing a piece of jewelry, the most important things I always pay close attention to are: quality, jeweler reputation, and customer service.

WHO you buy your jewelry from is crucial!!! If it is your first time shopping for jewelry, I would check out multiple places, look online, or ask a trusted friend. The last thing you want to do is over pay for something or purchase a low quality piece.

Customer service is also something to look for when buying a piece of jewelry. You want to make sure that the store you are making a purchase from has some type of warranty,  a professional cleaning machine, and an in-house jeweler. For example, when you want to get your ring fixed or cleaned, you should take it to your jeweler and they can do it in-store. Don’t take the risk of having your jewelry lost, stolen, or switched when shipped out.

custom jewelry
custom jewelry maker

Now let’s talk a little more about quality.

Some jewelers will use recycled gold, which means they will take older scrap gold and melt it down into something new (which is not always great). It can cause the gold to be weakened which leads to easily broken jewelry. You typically want your jeweler to use fresh gold so that the jewelry is sturdy and will withstand being damaged.

Another great tip when buying a necklace or bracelet is to check the type of clasp that is being used. What you want to look for is a lobster clasp. These are stronger and less likely to break than c-clasps. A lobster clap requires more gold when being made so it’s more expensive for the jeweler to use. I always make sure to use lobster clasps on all my pieces to ensure safety. You also want to make sure your jeweler is using diamonds that truly sparkle from up close and from a distance. 

What trends & styles do you foresee being hot for 2023?

NE: Body jewelry is definitely coming in hot in 2023. There is so much more real estate on the body than one might think. You can drape chains with diamonds from practically any part of your body, be it belly chains, hand chains, foot chains, or anklets. I’ve got it all and I want it all!

I get the most compliments from men on my hand chain and body jewelry. They all want to buy one for their ladies. I am also really into ear cuffs right now. They are perfect because you can add cool pieces to your ear game without making a hole… which means no pain! Finally beauty, without pain. 

Talk to us about the difference between traditional & unconventional designs.

NE: Traditional designs are typically those which remain timeless and in style forever. A classic diamond tennis necklace or bracelet, diamond studs, or a diamond band can be passed down from generations and still be in style.

unconventional jewelry design
traditional vs unconventional jewelry design

While traditional designs are always great, I love to get creative with unconventional designs. I believe jewelry is a great way to express personal style and taste. And for that reason I like to create unique designs. I’ve recently made a few really cool wrap-around rings, a pinky ring that spins, and two rings that are connected by a chain. Another thing I love to do is reinvent old styles that have faded over time, such as body jewelry. Instead of buying a traditional ring or bracelet, you could try a super chic and fun hand chain. 

What’s the best way to clean jewelry? Walk us through the steps.

NE: The best way to clean your jewelry is to take it to your jeweler and have it cleaned every few months. While there, the jeweler can also check to ensure that the prongs on your ring are tight and not loose. A loose prong can cause diamonds to fall out which is a total nightmare.  A reputable jeweler should do all of this for you with no charge. This is just one of many reasons why choosing a reliable jeweler is so important.

the best way to clean jewelry

Nothing quite cleans your jewelry like a professional. But if you are in a pinch, I would suggest buying an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for at home or using a specific cleaning solution that you can buy online/in store. Some stones do require special care, though, so it is advised that you always consult your jeweler.

Do you find when people are buying engagement rings, they’re going more for traditional or non-traditional very unique styles?

NE: I’ve seen it all, from traditional to one of a kind styles. The options are truly limitless and you can really have some fun designing the perfect ring! You can go the traditional route with a diamond center or you can pull a Princess Diana and get a blue sapphire center stone engagement ring with diamonds around it. 

Historically, yellow gold was used for a lot of different jewelry. But over the past decade or two, white gold and platinum have become a very popular color choice for engagement rings. Although yellow gold has definitely made a comeback, yellow and rose gold are now a more non-traditional and unique choice for rings. You can also get creative with the cut of your ring. Many people opt for traditional shapes like a round or oval stone. But I have seen some really fun rings that have unique shapes like a heart or have multiple large stones in the center setting. 

Jewelry Making 101 with Nicole Elghanian
diamond studded rings

Another way you can get “non-traditional” with your ring is by opting for a lab-grown stone. For many years natural diamonds were the way to go, and the most traditional. Now we have a new player: lab-grown diamonds.

A natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond are both real diamonds.

The only difference is how the diamond is scourced, how long it takes to make, and the cost. A natural diamond takes thousands of years to materialize within the earth. And for that reason, has a higher price tag than a lab-grown diamond that only takes a few months to make. The choice between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond is entirely up to preference. As you can see, there are so many different options for crafting a stunning ring.

For example, there are many differences between white, yellow, and rose gold.

In white gold: 14K is stronger and 18k is softer, but not by much at all. White gold is often mixed with silver and nickel because aesthetically they look the same. 14k is only stronger than 18k by a very small margin.

In yellow gold: 14K is stronger and has a more lighter gold look, 18k is softer with a stronger yellow hue. Yellow gold is mixed with copper and silver in different quantities to make it stronger or richer.

In rose gold: In rose gold: 14K is stronger and a deeper pink, 18k is not as pink and is softer. Rose gold is mixed with copper to make it pink. 18k has more gold than copper so thats why it is softer. 14k has more copper than gold so that is why it’s stronger and the reason why 14k has a deeper pink color. 

yellow gold jewelry
gold jewelry z necklace
diamond studded gold necklace

If you are allergic to gold the best substitute would be platinum. White gold or platinum is more traditional and will be in style forever – also it makes your diamond appear larger.

What are some pieces that are classic & will last a lifetime?

NE: Some pieces that are classics and will always be in style are: tennis bracelets/necklaces, diamond stud earrings, eternity diamond bands, simple gold hoops/bands, and pearl necklaces/earrings.

Nicole Elghanian jewelry

My pieces are made to last a lifetime and can be passed down to loved ones! Family heirlooms have always been important to me. And the items that have been passed down to me are the ones I cherish most. Passing down a piece of jewelry is like leaving a piece of you for someone else to have. It is something you can keep with you always as a reminder of fond memories. If you feel like an heirloom might need a fresh new look, try having your jeweler revive it into something fun and new! Jewelry, old or new, is one of the most special and sentimental gifts you can give someone. 

What advice would you give someone looking to buy an engagement ring for their significant other?

NE: When shopping for your significant other there are a few tips that you should keep in mind to find the perfect ring.

Let’s start with the Four C’s of diamonds.

The Four C’s you should know are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. After this, you should probably figure out whether you want a natural diamond or a lab-grown one. If you go the natural way, I recommend purchasing a diamond that has been graded by the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). GIA is a nonprofit institute that sets standards for grading diamonds. When buying a natural diamond from a jeweler, make sure you get the GIA certification for the diamond. 

Once you make some choices on the stone itself, you will need to figure out your band and setting. Although white gold and platinum are typically the most popular choices for ring color, there are lots of people that love a yellow gold or rose gold band. I recommend when choosing a yellow or rose gold band, if you don’t want the color of the band to reflect off the diamond, you might opt for the stone to be set in white gold prongs. On the other hand, if your diamond already has a yellow color, pairing it with a yellow gold or rose gold prong will actually benefit your stone. 

Lastly, if you do not know the finger size try to bring a spare ring to your jeweler to size or buy a ring sizer from Amazon. A perfect fit will always go on easily, but will not slide off easily. Always pay attention to the comments your significant other says about their friends’ rings or comments they make when passing a jewelry store. And if all else fails, try their Pinterest for some inspiration!

How far in advance should a piece be designed/ordered?

NE: For custom pieces, I always say five to seven weeks just to be safe. I have a lot of beautiful pieces that are already made, so if you are in a pinch or just don’t want to wait, I got you.

Where can everyone find you? Pimp yourself out!

NE: You can find me doing pop ups in San Diego and Los Angeles, or see me in person by appointment! You can also shop my website and find me on Instagram @shopdiamondbarjewelry.

Nicole Elghanian studded ring
Nicole Elghanian jewelry designs

Most of my pieces can be found online via my website or my IG. For a little fun, follow me on Tik Tok @diamondbarjewelry.

There you have it. All the info you could every want or need about custom made jewelry. If your S/O is little too aloof, just copy & paste this post in an email for a sublte hinty hint. We always got you babes. ::wink wink::


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