Monday, March 3, 2014

 Custom made

– How old jewellery can be turned into a
stunning new ring
Most of my work is custom made – for customers, who have a jewellery dream which can’t be bought in normal shops. They ask me to create that extra personal piece of jewellery, maybe even recycling old, beloved, but aesthetically less pleasing heirlooms.
 Here is an example of how an old ring of my customer Louise’s much loved mother was turned into a new ring which reflects my customers taste and personality.
My customer Louise brought me a simple ring with a 40’s design featuring a large, and very beautiful blue gem. It had been worn every day by her mother and showed the signs of it: the facets were ground smooth and the stone had lost its lustre. However, when I removed it from its setting and turned it over, a whole new gem showed itself to us:
Suddenly the facets were crisp and new and if set upside down in the new piece, this would become a very unusual ring with a uniquely cut gem.
I set about to sketching designs which would showcase this lovely stone, while reusing the gold of the original ring. My customer brought more inherited gold than was needed, especially since she preferred a combination of silver with only accents of gold.
I chose to melt everything in one bowl
And cast it into a sheet
Which was milled down to a more useful dimension
A piece of thick-walled tubing served as the base of the setting
It was shaped oval and tapered
And the gold was shaped into a brim to rest on top of it, ready to enfold the gem
It is a trademark of mine to place oval stones diagonally on the finger, and so I filed the bottom of the setting accordingly
Now for the ring shank: A piece of oval silver wire was first milled stepwise smaller and smaller and then filed smoothly tapered
By melting the tip of it, a delicious drop emerged and served as the delicate starting point of the tendril, smoothing itself around the base of the setting
After much adjusting, the shape was right
And the ring and setting were soldered together
Another trademark of mine is the use of bubbles. I love them, because they lend life to the design – much like champagne wouldn’t be the same without its lively bubbles.
The spheres are created by melting tiny pieces of gold, which naturally draws up on to itself in order to find its new shape
Now I arranged the bubbles. This stage takes time and an artistic eye. My designs are fluid and asymmetrical, but never out of balance. The bubbles play a vital role in balancing out the design correctlyand often it takes quite a bit of fiddling around before I am satisfied by the arrangement
The last solder is done; the ring has soaked in hot acid to remove stains from the process and has had its initial polish. Now for adjusting the setting in order to fit the stone perfectly. With a setting burr I grind a seat for the stone
And repeatedly test if it fits without rocking
Perfect fit! Now I carefully push the brim of the gold over the edge of the stone in order to hold it securely
A small, green tzavorite garnet is to play the role as the cheeky companion of the lead actor and so I grind a seat for it into one of the larger bubbles
And set the vivid gem
After a last, thorough polish, here is the result, baptized “Sing Blue Silver”
(which she had engraved on the inside of the ring) by Louise:

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