When you've seen "custom design" listed in a jewelry window, have you ever wondered what it entailed?

At Hodges Jewelers in Marshall, they work with several jewelry designers who can design something from scratch after you explain your vision, combine ideas from examples you've seen elsewhere and rebuild heirloom jewelry with a more modern style.

Perhaps you'd like to design a ring or pendant for your wife, complete with each child's birthstone. Perhaps you'd like to use diamonds from a grandma's wedding ring to create an engagement ring her granddaughter will wear for the rest of her life.

Or maybe you'd like to add gemstones to your current wedding ring to enhance it even more. With this bridal set, Hodges Jewelers added the halo and reset the diamond to give it a fresh look without the expense of a whole new ring. The before image is on the left, the after on the right.

Here are some tips for getting started on a custom piece:

1) Look to your life and lifestyle for inspiration. Perhaps your fiancee is Irish, so you want to incorporate a family shield or a trinity knot into her engagement ring. Perhaps you enjoy water sports, travel or hiking, so symbols from nature would be meaningful. A designer can incorporate those ideas into a truly unique piece.

2) Educate yourself. The gems and metal you use can affect price and some prefer white gold over rose or yellow gold. Jewelers of America, a professional organization of independent jewelers, has a fairly comprehensive and easy-to-follow overview on its website. Or stop in Hodges Jewelers to look at some real-life examples and take advantage of their associates' expertise.

3) Plan ahead. The entire process can take 3-4 weeks, depending on the design and changes requested during the design process. It's not too early to think ahead to Valentine's Day!

Jill Stout, Townsquare Media

Ready to get started? Give them a call at 269-789-2345 or visit the shop at 117 W. Michigan Ave., Marshall.