Just a couple of shapshots of the finished necklace (18K pendant with opals and diamonds). Boy am I happy to have this finished and on its way to its owner.
(Not exactly an evening gown, I know.. I was in the studio! Covered in polishing grit!)
[18K gold and Akoya pearl ring]
You may remember the pearl ring I made for my sister-in-law Ghezal. The pearl came from a pair of earring studs that she never wore. Here’s where the other pearl went.
This project started as a big batch of broken and un-loved jewelry with a lot of decent stones in it. So, I pulled all stones and sent the metal into the refiner. Then I went about designing a new piece using up all the old stones. At first the idea was maybe a brooch..
But then it changed to maybe a pendant.. A butterfly maybe?
No, too much; the butterfly pendant was way too fancy. We needed more everyday wearable—like only 20 diamonds and a handful of opals can be..
Every-day wearable. And still cool. Check.
The wax of the piece. I proposed to carve the wax base for the diamonds and build/solder on the bezels for the opals. Because my last experiment with bezel-setting in gold using 14K was painful, I decided to go easy on myself and use 22K bezels. Opals are soft stones, and 22K is a dream.
The piece freshly cast into 18K gold (+ a little bit of polishing). There is a lot of gold here.
The bottom is cool.
Et voila! The finished pendant.
Soldering on all the tiny bezels was not super easy. I spent a lot of tedious hours making the bezels seamless on the piece and sanding/polishing between the little spokes, all the while listening to Dan Savage’s podcast. Now I know a lot about people who have sexual fetishes for snorting things up their noses (like gummy bears).. or outie belly buttons. I like to think I’m a richer person because of this.
That middle diamond, for size reference, is 5mm in diameter. And all those little diamonds are 1 point freaking 3 mm in diameter (cough cough). (Mine eyes..)
The finished back. I like how the center stone pokes down so starkly and pointily on a back that is all soft curves and swoops.
[14K white gold domed poppy ring with diamonds]
I’ve been experimenting with my photography of my jewelry. I think I’ve vastly improved upon my lighting and now I’m starting to snick at my background and staging.. Before I used a book for my main ‘glamour’ shots (a 1905 edition of Tennyson’s poems, which I found at a garage sale and bought because I thought it was pretty—I have to admit I’ve only read like 10 lines out of the thing; I’m not a huge poetry fan..) and a nice piece of linen for my all-around photos.
Which looks nice.
BUT, I kind of feel like the white background is less distracting, less contrived, and makes the jewelry piece show up better (rather than show bumps from the fabric reflecting, say).
I don’t know. What do you think? The white background is also colder, more impersonal.
But .. Preeeeeetttttyyyyy… Argh. Dilemma.
I recently took a bunch of glamor shots of my rings. Here are some of the better ones..
Most of these rings you have probably seen before. I’ve been working on how to get better photos of things that are highly reflective and I think I did really well with this batch. Now I just have to figure out how to get the danged camera to focus where I want it to!
Ronin and I spent an evening not eating any dinner (her) and dancing to various youtube video songs. Here are some winners..
Okay. This is one of my favorite all-time finales of a movie hands down point blank period and that’s final. Maybe it was the movie, but maybe it was simply the wicked edo-period tap dance. A great number of movies could be made better with a full-cast tap number finale I believe. (It starts out pretty cool but seriously gets extra fucking awesome around 1:20.)
And if you are a major Japanese movie geek and happen to have a fetish for Kitano Takeshi, here’s a little treat: Beat Takeshi vs. Shamisen. If you like this, you should seriously follow this thread (I live in a small world evidently: I’ve NEVER seen anyone rock on a shamisen until now).
Here’s another dance number mash-up I’ve watched about a million times by now:
Two words: CYD [and] CHARISSE. My god. Can it get any better? This video makes me tear up at the end actually. It’s kind of embarrassing (and it’s not because of MJ).
My daughter (she is two) is into dance and has a special affinity for ballet (would you believe..). Sometimes on hard mornings, we watch a bit of Giselle to take the edge off The Shrill. This has to be my favorite of the Act 1 variations (of the billions out there):
I don’t know why I like the hop-hop-hop-twirl-twirl-twirl bit so much (1:00) but wee little Gelsey does it the best out of all the little ballerinas on the internets. It makes me sad that the only recorded version is in so crap of shape. Bugger.
Hand-carved mistletoe wedding band with wide ocean wave and tree band. 18K white gold. Kirsten loved the mistletoe motif but my 11mm band was a little too much.. So I carved one 6mm—and I designed a mistletoe solitaire to match. She had a kick-ass old-style cut family diamond to set in the top.
I wish I got better photos of these rings. I reworked my photo-taking setup and the improvement is obvious. I had been diffusing the light at the light source rather than at the piece; it makes a massive difference. Photos from now on will be much much better. But anyway..
First sketches had a solid bezel with sprigs of mistletoe climbing up each side. However, we were concerned that the solid bezel might limit the bling factor from her old-style cut (modern brilliant cut diamonds return all light that goes in; older cuts sometimes did not..). So, I re-worked the design and opened up the bezel, letting light into the sides of the stone. The mistletoe leaves would hold the stone in place.
The wax shows that the solitaire does not actually sit flush with the band, as is usually the fashion, but is instead tapered gently up near the top. Not everything that is in fashion is the best and this is a way better design, trust me.
The stone is a lavender CZ I stuck in place to pretend. It’s only a tiny bit smaller than her diamond would be.
See? Graceful! (Not stumpy.)
The finished mistletoe band. It measures 6mm in width. It’s an odd thing to think about but as I carve more and more, I get better (it’s hard to call it “practice” since I’m doing it for real, so to speak). Not only am I more efficient and exact in my carving, but my designs are more sophisticated. My 11mm mistletoe ring is one of the rings I wear the most & I love it to death but I have to say, the design on this one is better.
The finished solitaire. Kirsten was too paranoid to send her stone all the way from the UK in case of possible loss by the post office so she had the stone set in the finished ring once she received it. I photoshopped a photo of an old-European cut diamond in where the stone should go just to get a nice photo of the final piece.
Mark wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted but knew that he preferred a nice wide band. He is into surfing and outdoorsy stuff and liked the water motif on Jeff’s ring. I sketched the following:
All was a go and here’s the pics of the final ring. Each third of the ring has a different motif: gnarly old beach tree with water, water with breaking wave, just water. You can turn the ring around depending upon your mood.
The ring has a matte finish with a mirror polish on the rounded inside. I think it turned out beautifully.
After I finished the ring, it occurred to me that I had carved essentially the Lone Tree of Carmel. Nuts!
18K white gold solitaire with .60 ct diamond engagement ring with rosy diamond eternity band.
I’ve finally carved a solitaire ring to match my carved bands. It’s very sleek and simple with a tapered band at the top and thicker, wider band at the bottom. This helps keep the ring balanced on the finger (keeps the stone UP and not flopping around) and I think gives a really simple design a lot of grace. It doesn’t fit flush against the carved bands like you usually see engagement ‘sets’ but I think that’s what makes it look unique and cool.
[The diamond is REALLY awesome. It’s G color and SI1 clarity with ideal cut and polish/symmetry; the SI1 inclusion is singular and unobtrusive and 99.99% of the stone is perfectly clean. A really great diamond I think.]
I will probably carve a straight banded solitaire as well but I love the look of the tapered band the best.
Here’s the pair of rings I often wear together:
I began wearing it just because an 11mm wide band wasn’t really giving the impact I was looking for… And then I realized how cool the tapered band looked paired against the carved ring.
I’ve followed fashion peripherally; mostly I just want to seem some pretty pictures and if I’m lucky, there’s some neat jewelry too (but usually not). Lee Alexander McQueen killed himself this past February and here are some images from his last collection (which was shown after his death).
They are downright breathtaking. Like jewels.
The random but nicely symmetrical scattering of design is something I can fall to pieces over. This is what I love most about people like Renee Lalique (and there is a lot to love about the dude, my link is but one paltry example; do a google image search and be blown away).
All models had these austere head-dresses covering their hair and ears. This one has a feather mohawk (I have a complete picture of the mohawk down below) but most were just the head covering.
Pretty textures. I like the scrunchy rough texture of the gauzy translucent bunched fabric (I’m sure it has a name) and then the smooth silky weight of the outer layer (look at the veiny texture). I have an affinity for crazy contrasted with constricting. (No alliteration intended.)
O. M. G. I Love This. Are they real feathers painted gold? I would love to think they were actually gold feathers. Or even real feathers sprayed with real gold paint… From a jewelry standpoint, they have a look like gold (14K or maybe 18K) patinaed with age. You so rarely see gold patinaed but I love the look and have been experimenting with it myself.
I’m freaking out over the print of skrinkled drapey fabric over perfectly smooth silhouette. Funny that it makes even real folds and shadows incorporated into the art. (You see the wings?) This is where I start to flail over which one is really my favorite…
…because oooh oooh oooh oooh ooh! How cool is this?!?
Holy cats! Or this?!? The dress goes on to be light and foamy and fluffery through the full-length skirt.
Heavy pomegranite silk. With intricate gold embroidery. I love this. Seriously, this would take me a zillion years to make (…if I knew how to sew and embroider and all that).
Here’s that headdress I was talking about. A golden feather mohawk!
And right at the point where I get super excited about this artist—I do the same thing when I discover a great new-to-me author, and go to search out what other books have been written and enthuse over what is to come… And then I remember that the man who created this is now dead; there is no more coming. It’s a sad, depressing thing, and makes you wonder what goes on in the minds of brilliant people. I don’t often get choked up over people I didn’t know personally who have died (there are very, very many, after all). But it happens.
All images and many more (plus greater detail) from here.
You have no idea how much I stressed over drilling out this big beautiful golden pearl.
Jacquelyn contacted me with this pearl conundrum: she had a pearl that came from a necklace (so it was drilled all the way through) but wanted it for a ring. So… could I maybe set a stone or do something not weird with the hole in the top? Being me, I’m all “We should put a diamond in that hole.” So I got to work. I made the wax, adjusted it to size, got it cast, finished it out, set the diamond in the tubing, shaped and prepped the tubing to be set in the pearl, prepped the mounting for the pearl… and then I stopped and sweat for like a week.
I was terribly paranoid about chipping the surface of the pearl when I drilled it out for the diamond stud. I drill pearls all the time and I use special pearl drilling bits, but they are only small holes, like 1/2 millimeter in diameter. This was to be a 2.5mm diameter hole and as far as I know, they don’t make special pearl drill bits this size. Regular twist drills don’t work; they trash the nacre and chip it all to hell. I have tried. One could suggest that I had two chances to set the pearl: once on one side and if that didn’t work, then I could set the failed end down and have a fresh chance. Naturally, that idea sucked because I just couldn’t give back a pearl all wanged up even if the wanged-up part was set down into the ring and invisible. Also, the pearl had a couple of little dits on one end; this end needed to be set down in the ring mounting. So basically I had one chance. GAH!
I decided to treat the pearl like it was a normal setting job and used the tools I use to set diamonds. Bud burr, setting burrs, etc. The trick seemed to be that I had to drill the pearl at an extreme angle to keep it from chipping (I know this because I trashed two other practice pearls figuring it all out). Then once the nacre is opened up, you can drill straight down. It took a steady hand and a lot of patience but when I finally got my nerves together to do the real thing, it worked flawlessly.
I was never so happy to put that ring in the box and tie a little ribbon around it and send it off. Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! My god just look at how awesome it is:
Like a jeweled gooseberry. With a big sparkley bead of dew on it. YUM.