For years, good friends of ours gave us a jigsaw puzzle as our annual family Christmas present and it has become a treasured holiday tradition for the four of us to slave over a puzzle of increasing difficulty. Whenever we finish the puzzle, we send them a photo of the finished product, then break it back into thousands of pieces and return it to them to give it a whirl. I thought it might be fun to create a puzzle for them from a favorite photo.
I checked out a few sites and found that although the regular photo sites like Shutterfly will do puzzles, they are usually for a smaller number of pieces. Venus Photo Puzzles gets some good reviews around the web for creating quality puzzles with lots of pieces. They bill themselves as specialists in custom puzzles and state that they use the same quality cardboard used by Ravensburger and other professional puzzle makers.
I decided to try out both: Venus for a 2000 piece 16" x 35" puzzle for $50 and Ravensburger for a 1000 piece 27" x 20" one for $65 (now on sale for $40).
Both websites were very easy to navigate and it took about 5 minutes to order the puzzles. Venus recommended that I email them with my photo to ensure that it was the correct quality for the size puzzle I wanted. I got a detailed email response back from them within an hour.
The Ravensburger arrived rather quickly and the Venus puzzle took about 5 days longer since it was being shipped from overseas. Both come in nice packages, but the Ravensburger tin is much nicer for a gift. As you can see in the photos below, the Venus puzzle pieces are high gloss while the Ravensburger have a matte finish. Although I would feel comfortable recommending both, I think the color quality of the Ravensburger is better, as is the cut of each puzzle piece as there appeared to be no excess cardboard from the die cut process.