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What's On My Bench this June?

This month, I have been busy doing a lot of repairs and resizes as the weather gets cooler. Fingers shrink and the game begins, to find the size that is most comfortable during both our extreme heat of summer and cold of winter.

Also, in between, ever on the mission to achieve perfection under the microscope, I also have been practising hand engraving. This is an endless pursuit whenever there is time. I practise first on a piece of brass to warm my hands up before embarking on the real thing. Especially as the days get colder!

Finally, I have also been working on a large hero piece pendant in 18ct yellow gold and platinum. As I delve deeper into the design aspect and follow my combined love of designing jewellery, autumn, nature and engraving, I have come to realise this all relates back to Art Noveau jewellery, with its nature themes and bolder designs while still working in high carat metals and stunning gemstones.

This piece, as all my handmade pieces do, began with a bar of 18ct yellow gold and a bar of platinum, that I cut, bend, hammer, anneal, shape, forge, fuse and solder into its components to eventually become that beautiful piece of art that we call jewellery.

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Every piece begins with the settings and branches out from there. Featuring 2 x Light sky blue Ceylon Sapphires, 2 x slightly smaller mid royal blue Ceylon sapphires, a grass green to electric blue colour changing sapphire and a F colour, 0.58ct diamond, this piece is made to be worn day and night.

Above you can see the progression from the bar of gold that had been rolled out to size, to the forming of the settings for the smaller diamonds and the shaping of the leaves.

Before these pieces could be soldered together, I had to precut the settings. Being castle set, they are drilled, and the shaped to represent the castle turrets from the side. I will post photos later to show this, when set.

The next stage is the cutting out behind the settings known as Ajoure. This is done using a polished graver, so the cuts all reflect light back out as well, under the microscope. Next was the making of the platinum leaf setting and precutting that with a fishtail setting. This looks like a fishtail on the side, with the polished cuts reflecting light back to the eye. The last photos show the fusing of the stem of the platinum leaf.

As you can see, pieces like this take days of work. The next stage is to solder the stems and leaves together. This took awhile as it is important to get the angles right as well as the distance and centre or it will draw the eye immediately if anything is wrong.

I also made some small leaves to attach to the end and stippled them for texture before attaching a ball/bud on top. The jump ring that the chain attaches to is behind the bud and leaf.

And that is where I am up to at the moment! I will continue on with this piece and show you next month the completed pendant.

As always, if you are thinking of creating your next heirloom piece, whether you have an idea or not, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I have lots of beautiful gemstones, that I have collected, in all different colours shapes and sizes. Keep an eye out for some of these soon.


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