Over the years I've been doing Goldsmithing I've found that this is certainly amongst the most frequently asked questions. Inspiration can literally come from absolutely anything. I am constantly jotting down ideas that have popped into my head. Whilst working on one job, other new concepts will develop. It's so important to capture these and not let them fade.
Like any artist you have to be patient. Inspiration doesn't always happen immediately. It can take time and sometimes you simply don't have the luxury of time on your side. It's important to account for this when scheduling work and commissions for people. I've always tried to be very honest, if it's not happening you can't force it. Pressure is not ideal when it comes to the design process. You have to like the initial concept, commit to it and let it evolve. I find that once you start bouncing ideas off your customer it quickly rules things in or out. Sometimes your favourite design is one to get cut, but that's ok too. To date, I've never ended up with a design that I dislike or I feel isn't me. If it has been very customer lead, then as long as they're happy, I'm happy. This is so important, after all your style of work is often one of the main reasons why you were chosen by the customer in the first place. The joy of design is that it's endless - that is once you get the ball rolling. Sometimes the hardest thing is knowing when to stop tweeking an idea.
I tend to get a feel for the customers needs early on and if I get an inkling that my style isn't what they're looking for I'm quite happy to recommend another fellow Goldsmith better suited to their brief.