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Meet the March Bridal Madness Champion

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All about Carlos Arizmendi — the designer since day one

March Bridal Madness Art Gems Staff
The Art & Gems Jewelers Crew

I was roughly 14 years old when my mom sent me to my uncle’s jewelry shop to lend a hand. I began as an errand boy, though unbeknownst to me, I was training to make jewelry. Most apprentices learn their craft by first doing repairs. However, my uncle taught me how to create new jewelry. Frequently, I didn’t quite understand what I was doing; but I knew I needed to roll wires and make circles. Before long, I’d created a chain! That sort of training moved me toward design. My repair craft followed later, well into adulthood.

Today, at my studio, I design, supervise production, and control quality. My son is the CAD designer with three additional employees who help with production (one employee not pictured).

March Bridal Madness Carlos & Gino Arizmendi
My son Gino and me

We ventured into CAD design nearly eight years ago. A constant learning process, we’ve tested different software and equipment, like our 3D growing machines for example. We started with a third-hand SolidScape MMII machine, a milling machine, and now we operate with an EnvisionTec. Technology has had a profound impact on my business. With the arrival of CAD, our store made an 180º turn. These days, we wouldn’t survive without CAD and 3D Printing.

Customization comes naturally to me because that’s how I learned this business. My studio started with custom design and customers know that. When I get an idea for a design, I like to sketch it right away on a piece of paper. Then, I refine the sketch though it still doesn’t have to be perfect. Then I approach Gino, my son and our CAD designer, and explain to him what I’d like to accomplish.

The winning March Bridal Madness design
March Bridal Madness Winning Design March Bridal Madness Winning Design

I can’t precisely pinpoint where my inspiration originates. But once I get an idea, I actively pursue it. For my March Bridal Madness winner, the fleur de lis immediately came to mind. I worked to incorporate it into a piece of jewelry because of its appealing softness to the eye, romance, and meaning.

To create this ring, we first fabricated the head. I used the tip of the fleur de lis petals as the prongs. Then I decided the ring should include French Pave diamonds on its sides to enhance the French fleur de lis symbol. I made the gallery in a classic yet modern style. It took ten attempts to finally reach the final version: settling for “close enough” was not an option. The design allowed everything to fall right into place. It has class, elegance, and harmony. The ring does not overpower the diamond nor does the stone obscure the ring’s intricate design. For these reasons, I chose this piece to enter in the March Bridal Madness contest.

The winning March Bridal Madness design
March Bridal Madness Winning Design March Bridal Madness Winning Design

Communicating my ideas, first onto paper and then verbally, remains one of the most challenging aspects of my job. I can clearly imagine what I’d like to accomplish in my mind, so I’m the only one visualizing the concept. This leads to three or four design versions before the piece comes properly to life. Despite the challenge, I love this part of the process, seeing the jewelry emerge exactly how I envisioned it.

March Bridal Madness Bracelet Carlos Arizmendi
My most prized creation

Throughout my career, I have made jewelry for many recognized people, from athletes to actors. But the piece of jewelry I enjoyed making the most was a $300,000 intricate bracelet. Though I’ve designed rings for diamonds exceeding $1 million in value, this particular bracelet makes me most proud. (shown on the left)

Years ago, Stuller sent us a catalog in the mail. I don’t remember exactly when our partnership began, but it undoubtedly changed the way we buy findings. Also, one of the main reasons we do business with Stuller is their reliability and next day shipping. We receive high quality in every product from Stuller.

March Bridal Madness Carlos Arizmendi
Our design space overlooking Lake Michigan

In my own time, I love to swim. I would swim every single day if I could. I like to watch the Chicago Blackhawks, soccer, and movies. Here’s a bit of business advice I have to offer: I recommend anyone who hasn’t ventured into CAD design to make the change. Our business today is not the same as it was ten years ago. We must continually update to keep up with the times and our ever-changing industry.

Reach us at (708) 679-0981 or simply visit our website to see all our store has to offer!

Check out last year’s March Bridal Madness winner here, or see all the ravishing contest entries on our Facebook. Which design is your favorite?


Carlos Arizmendi

Designer, Art & Gems Jewelers

I consider myself an average person with a passion for jewelry design • I've been around jewelers all my life, though never aspired to be a jeweler • I went back to school to learn computer programming but found it boring • There was no art in it • My design studio on Michigan Ave in Chicago has a great view of Lake Michigan • I retail online and trade custom work and repairs for jewelers in 7 different states • I love to exercise, watch movies, and admire sunsets • I can't wait to see what the future will bring!