Not in the historical context of trying to find ways to change ordinary metals into precious gold; if that was the case I could quit may day job and design jewelry full time instead! Alchemy is a tool that Etsy provides and it has finally returned after a five month long sabbatical. It is the "philosopher's stone", so to speak, used to change a buyer's creative ideas and a crafter's creative talent into a custom made item.
A buyer posts their request in Alchemy describing what they would like and maybe uploading a picture to help the sellers visualize they request. Sellers then bid on the item. They describe what they would do and how much it would cost. Bidding can go above or below the "ideal price" that the buyer suggests. The buyer reviews the bids and accepts, declines, or requests to change the bid. Once both parties accept a bid, a message is sent to both buyer and seller and the buyer submits payment according to the terms they agreed upon. The seller then makes the item and sends pictures of it. Once it is finished, the seller clicks "complete" and mails the item to the buyer. This custom item shows up in the sellers "sold items" section. A full description of the process is provided by Etsy here.
What does this mean for buyers?
Buyers now have two options. They can submit a request into Alchemy for sellers to bid on, or they can submit custom item requests to specific sellers if the seller has their shop set up to accept custom requests. The advantage to requesting directly through a seller is that you already know their style from other items listed. A seller may be more willing to bargain back and forth one on one. The advantage to alchemy is that you get a variety of crafty people bidding so you may see a style you like more.
So have fun with it! Hosting a party and need favors? Shopping for someone with unique interests? Its amazing what the people on Etsy can come up with. As for my jewelry, you can request a custom item directly through my shop if you like something but would like it a different length or different color. I will be taking requests for my custom letter/word/phrase/name bracelets through this new direct "Request Custom Item" option as well. I've been browsing the public requests in Alchemy as well, perhaps I will see you there!
Interesting requests that I have seen on Alchemy so far include polymer clay broccoli charms, a Bjork swan dress, and a beard and mustache cozy?! The possibilities are endless!