Finally: a new piece to show off! Carved tapered solitaire with scattered ginkgo leaves in 18K white gold. The stone is a 6mm family diamond sent to me by the client.
The ring is a slight departure from my usual fare in that it has a very clean, symmetrical outline, but with a very organic pattern of ginkgo leaves arranged across the top. I’m very happy with how it turned out.
I took a ton of photos of the ring; click through to see them all!
Hello everyone! Just a quick reminder that I’ll be working up until a couple of weeks before Christmas and I’ll be shipping orders until about mid-December. Please get your orders in by the first week of November if you would like them be be shipped and received by Christmas day.
Now, let’s return to fall and pumpkins and leaves turning colors. Sheesh.
[Blue cultured Sea of Cortez pearl. It’s pretty amazing, not only because it is gorgeous, but because it is from the first ever cultured pearl farm in the Sea of Cortez. Previously, it had been understood that culturing the “Rainbow-lipped” oysters in the Sea was impossible. But three guys figured out how and now they have a small farm in Guaymas.]
Well, the gem show was overwhelming and hectic as usual. Two days to buy everything I think I might need for the next year is pretty nearly impossible—but I do give it my damnedest. At least I feel like I made some decent contacts.
Mostly, I bought pearls (some things do not change). The Cortez pearl above was the fanciest/rarest I’ve ever purchased. I will definitely have to visit the farm one of these days; it’s only a five-hour drive or so from my parent’s house. I’ll write more in depth about the various stones I got in a later post. For now, I’ll just post a little eye candy.
Mmm: lovely round and semi-baroque Tahitian pearls. Gorgeous peacocky and magenta colors.
South Sea pearls from Myanmar, except for the upper right round pearl, which is a Chinese freshwater.
I actually bought these at the last year’s show, but never got a nice photo before. Chinese freshwater rose/peach round pearl and keshi of various colors.
Turquoise! I can never resist buying this stuff. These are all from Nevada I believe (maybe a couple pieces from New Mexico—will have to check) and are discovered, mined, cut, and polished by two of the nicest people. All their turquoise is non-stabilized and un-enhanced, and it is lovely stuff.
Rose-cut diamonds! The largest is 1.6 carats, the smallest is maybe 1/2 ct. Coolness!
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And I did not watch the Grammy’s on TV but I did peruse the blogs this morning to see what everyone wore. So far my favorite jewelry piece was the Lorraine Schwartz snake bracelet: gold and platinum with large diamond slice ‘spots’ and pave white and yellow diamonds. It looks like it has ruby eyes too. (You can get a huge blown-up version here.)
Hi all – Just a quick reminder if you are interested in having a custom piece made: Please get your order in by the end of this week (November 5th) if you want me to be able to ship before Christmas. I’ll be going on vacation starting mid-December (back the end of January). Thank you!!
Also, I will have some more ready-to-wear pieces up here on the Etsy site soon… Necklaces, more cocktail rings, etc.
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.
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.
I have some new stuff coming soon.. In the meantime, here’s a photo of a ring that I found last night while browsing the internets and which I think is about the raddest thing ever:
God I love it. The quality of the fabric rendered in gold is awesome and I love the light patina the gold has——makes the wrap look like soft and unbleached like raw linen. The artist is Kevin Coates, and the piece is titled Yseult (Isolde of Tristan and Isolde fame). Here’s what he had to say about it,
A few years ago, I received one of those intriguing little boxes in the post which usually celebrate the remote cutting of a wedding-cake. Upon opening it, the box, bereft of nuptial crumbs, cradled instead a lonely baroque pearl, shyly featuring not one, but two, ‘nipples’. The charming accompanying note from a fellow jeweller, well-known for her wonderful work with pearls, said that she thought that I may be able to think of something to do with it. It remained fallow, but not forgotten, for some time, until the idea for this ring about Yseult (for Wagnerians: Isolde) occurred.
I bisected the orphan gem in order to liberate the two wanton nipples, and although the refractory qualities of mother-of-pearl differ from the superficial aspects of pearls themselves, I managed to find a good colour and nacre-density match from which to carve the segment of face.
The power of drapery to conceal and reveal, to reserve and to promote, is immense – here I also wanted it to stifle and restrict, to reflect Yseult’s fatal love for Tristan. That was a passion destined never to be celebrated with its wedding cake… SOURCE
I really want to start expanding my carving to include other substances rather than casting wax. Unfortunately, I fear change and much of my hesitance is due to stress over not knowing what tools to use, what to try to carve first… All dumb stuff I can probably solve in three minutes with google.
In the meantime, I’ll just continue idolizing other awesomecarvers out there and dream of trying my hand someday. Soon, I think.
[Underwater Photograph by Fosco Maraini from his book, Hekura, The Diving Girl’s Island.]
I’ve had pearls on the brain lately and it got me to thinking about the ocean, diving, books and movies with diving scenes… specifically, the traditional Japanese women divers, called ‘ama.’
The scene I recall most vividly from a movie is the one from Tampopo. The gangster is at the seaside in his stylin’ cream suit where he sees a young ama, cold and dripping, climbing up onto the rocks with her basket of oysters. She offers him one, he cuts his lip…
I love the last bit where you see the other amas watching from the waves. (Incidentally, if you have never seen this film, you really should—and not just for the oyster porn.)
In another movie scene that comes to mind, the ama are treacherous. The hero dives into the water and encounters a group of them. They surround him and pull away his mask (ama dive without air). There is a strange gang-mentality/siren/dumb-playful group of seals sort of thing going on; they are not specifically trying to kill him but rather just messing with him. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what movie this was. A Bond movie? I know that Kissy Suzuki was supposed to be an ama but I didn’t think I had seen that one.
[Photo by Fosco Maraini.]
Ama traditionally are free divers, almost exclusively women, who dove for seaweed and shellfish (like sea snails, abalone, lobster, oysters). Occasionally the oysters they dove for contained pearls but this was not their goal. Interestingly, it wasn’t until Mikimoto was trying to promote his pearls did he hire ama to “dive” for pearls as a propaganda stunt. Actual be-loinclothed women were a bit too shocking for his upper-crust clientèle, and yet, the image of naked young women wrapped in semi-sheer white fabric free diving into the cold tumultuous ocean to capture the very pearl you wear upon your breast was a compelling one. Mikimoto was a total fucking genius.
[Japanese Ama as realized by Mikimoto. I have to say though, I’m liking the loincloth with the big-ass knife/pry-stick look better.]
Up until the middle 50s-60s, they dove only in loincloths. Then they wore the head-to-knee white outfits you see popularized by Mikimoto. Nowadays real working ama are interested in wearing whatever makes them most visible to boats, which usually is bright orange. Other than that, ama still dive for shellfish and seaweed as they have for 2000 years, with no air and no wetsuits. Obviously, diving with full scuba gear would allow them to stay down all day but they choose not to go this route. Depleting the shellfish population so rapidly would be harmful not only to the environment, but to their own livelihoods. They have struck a rare balance that has endured throughout the centuries and into modernity.
[Harvesting Seaweed, 1956, by Iwase Yoshiyuki. For more amazing photos by this guy, go here.]
[Seriously, my ass is getting kicked just sitting here looking at this photo. Photo by Fosco Maraini.]
“Water temperatures on the Onjuku coast are bearable only between June and September. Large harvests were impossible to haul up in strong currents, so tides had to be favourable, limiting diving days to about 20 per year. Ama dive in three sessions a day, requiring extensive eating and warming at the fireside between runs. A good daily harvest required 60 to 80 dives of up to two minutes each, so ama had to develop and maintain substantial body fat to guard against hypothermia. With such rigors and risks, ama were paid enormous salaries, often making more in the short season than the village men made the whole year. In the late 1920s there were around 200 ama active in Onjuku and the seven harbours of the region (Kohaduki, Ohaduki, Futamata, Konado, Tajiri, Koura and Nagahama). By the late 1960s, they had disappeared.”
I took the quote from here—an interesting read—but I can’t actually find the original author. Here’s a brief and very good article about ama.
[“Around the Fire,” 1931, by Iwase Yoshiyuki. Ama warm up between dives by a fire on the beach.]
I find it intriguing that free diving in cold water is something that most men simply cannot do; generally speaking, women’s bodies can handle cold water stress and mild hypothermia better than men’s. It was, and is, intense, dangerous, and backbreaking work, yet these women love to dive. They are real-life mermaids, every bit as mysterious and powerful and otherworldly as the mythical ones.
This ring came into being when Ghezal sent me a pair of stud earrings she never wore. The pearls were petite Japanese akoyas, and too small for the pearl ring designs I had (I typically use Tahitian and South Sea pearls, which are from a much larger oyster).
I dinked around with some ideas and even carved something that seemed good in my mind, but actualized in purple wax, it was kind of ugly. Then Ghezal said she wanted diamonds too and sent me an old diamond cluster cocktail ring to disassemble. Nothing like a passel of diamonds to sparkle up one’s imagination, and I reworked the design into more of an art deco inspired piece. She also casually mentioned she wanted it two-tone: white gold where the diamonds are and yellow gold for the band part, which at first freaked me out but it turned out to be not as hard as I thought it would be and of course, it’s pretty much awesome.