Several months ago I emailed with a client about a stone he had from his father he acquired many years ago. He had a wonderful lady friend and he wanted me to create a custom piece using the emerald cut citrine he would send to me. I told him I would be glad to create something.
I received the stone and was amazed at the color and clarity of the citrine gem. It was large and needed a substantial setting to insure it would be secure. Then the process began. What to do? The stone was amazing and I didn’t want the setting to interfere with its beauty. I wanted to incorporate design elements that were in keeping with my style but it needed to flow. It needed to be something different than if he had gone to a traditional commercial jeweler.
Here are some drawings I did for the client to review and determine which design he wanted me to use. I also wanted him to tell me if he had any changes to the design before I started to produce it. At this point we also emailed back and forth. He decided on the vertical setting and approved the design.
The design called for a octagonal basket setting for the beautiful citrine stone. I have to admit I stressed over the basket setting construction. It called for very exact measurements. I measured and measured again the wire I was using to construct the basket setting. There was also an issue of the angle from the top to the bottom octagon that would be created to hold the stone. Too much or too little and the prongs would not hold the stone well. John Cogswell’s Creative Stonesetting was incredibly helpful in this portion of the project. I honestly formed at least 5 different octagons in silver before it was right.
It is the process, not just the finished piece. Alan (my husband) and I had this discussion while I was struggling with the perfect octagon. It is not a race to get it done but to get it right and do a good job. I had the pleasure of taking a jewelry class with John Cogswell several years ago and we made clasps. Measurement was extremely important or the clasp would not work. Alan reminded me, “That wonderful teacher you had several years ago would not be satisfied with something that would “do”. Challenge yourself to make it as perfect as you can. It’s the process…” DING! He was right.
I had plenty of time to get the piece done so I methodically worked on the basket setting. Here is a photo of the basket setting in progress. Once the basket setting was done I needed to add the bail. This was a process too.
How to incorporate my style–but do it for a reason? The different wire look that is random in its final form but actually well thought out. I really like this part of design. My high school art teacher used to call them happy little accidents. Some jewelry designers are very exacting in all they do but I like a partnership with the materials. The torch and the silver work with you and the solder to create a one of a kind piece. I like a little randomness. Above is the setting with the bail prior to the application of the patina and the stone being set.
Finally, here is the finished piece minus the chain.
Next question is how to wear the piece. I thought of silk cord. It needed to be something that visually carried the weight of the larger stone but didn’t make it too much. I chose a sterling silver chain.
Here is the piece the night before it headed out the door to my client. Unfortunately the photo was done in haste (It’s the process…) and is a little blurry but you certainly can see the beauty of the stone and my solution for a necklace.