Hot Off the Bench

I think it's time for a new serial feature, don't you? Conveniently, our fabulous goldsmith has come up with a little project to work on, and I thought it would be a great way to show how some types of custom jewelry come to life.

This time we're starting the process by selecting gemstones and designing a piece around them. It's often fascinating to consider how different people approach the same materials, and probably says a lot about each unique personality and taste.

In my case, I've selected this Azurite & Malachite pair to play with:

Azurite & Malachite diamond-shape doublet pair

At first glance, the mind goes immediately to a pair of earrings. Dangles perhaps, with a simple wire wrap and lever back. But the more I toyed with the idea, the less I liked it -- the object of this lesson was to create something I might actually wear, and earrings weren't ringing any of my bells. Instead, I picked up a pencil and started doodling a necklace, something casual to wear in those warmer months the meteorologists insist will come.

The deep blue and vibrant green with globe-like land and sea contrast cried out for a more organic accent, so I began to toy with freshwater pearls, various chains, and other elements to create a simple but laid-back (and just a little coy) Y-necklace design.

Original sketch -- basic concept, a few notes on possible metals and accents

Orientation and placement of stones

Sample materials, including chain, pearls, and some malachite beads

At this point, it's time for a discussion about materials, structure, logistics, and of course the total cost (design, materials, labor). We'll be looking at the practical execution of a general idea, and hopefully resolve any potential issues during the actual design process. Will the Y be too heavy? Are the beads and chain in the right proportions? How does the necklace lie on the neck, and how do we prevent issues like spinning? What kind of clasp is best? How long should the Y-portion be?

The logistics can be overwhelming at first, but a methodical approach and talented, experienced goldsmith are the keys to figuring out the best way to achieve a beautiful end result.

Stay tuned to see how these component parts come together as a whole, finished piece of wearable artwork!