Scarlett Willow Designs

Beautiful Artisan Jewellery

Quote of the Week!

Quote of the Week!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment
You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet, you have to be in the right mood.What mood is that_Last-minute panic..jpg

Anyone else feel like this?

I need a deadline for pretty much most things, I work better this way.  Not just "work work" but in all aspects of my life.....no deadline and it doesn't get done.  Can't decide if this is because I have too much to do that I need deadlines to prioritise.....or because I'm really good at procrastination!

Gemstone of the Week!

Gemstone of the Week!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

Have you seen this beauty in the news this week?

themostbeautifuldiamond.jpg

This huge diamond started out as a 404.2 carat rough diamond mined in eastern Angola in February last year.  It's now a 163.41 carat, flawless, D-colour, emerald cut stunner.  It took six months to polish the diamond down after months of analysis, by master diamond cleaver 80 year old Ben Green, respected as the number one cleaver in the world.

The diamond was then set by a jewellers in Geneva called de Grisogono into this beautiful necklace, alongside emeralds and more diamonds and took over 1700 hours to create!

It's going to go under the hammer at Christie's in Geneva with a guide price of £23 million.....any takers?!

On The Bench!

On The Bench!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

The challenge set by my husband continues!  (Click here to read last weeks blog about this if you have no idea what I'm on about!)

The technique I used last week to get to the this.......

20171102_123014.jpg

.....is called hollowing or sinking.....hammering in a circular pattern from the centre and moving outwards, causing the silver to sink down.

To bring those edges up further and go from a dish to and egg cup, I needed to learn anther technique called raising.  This is the opposite to sinking although it looks like you're doing the exact same thing!  Raising brings up the sides by hammering the outside this time and forming it on a stake.  Hollowing, or sinking, was done with a wooden pear shaped hammer, raising is done with a metal hammer with a rectangular face with rounded edges.

20171109_105308.jpg
20171109_105111.jpg

It's not easy holding something this small!  I really enjoyed this part, it happens so quickly. It looks like I've ruined it at this point! You can see from the picture above though that the diameter of the silver is getting smaller, working from the bottom up, and therefore gets taller too.

20171109_105638.jpg
20171109_113041.jpg

Now that looks more like an egg cup! I love the texture from all those hammer blows but I need to smooth them out.  Next new technique is planishing!  A planishing hammer has a flat face and again, working in a circular motion from the centre of the base, these light taps of the hammer gently smooths the silver, each one overlapping the one before.

20171109_121712.jpg

I now need to decide on the base, finish smoothing and polishing the silver and it'll be finished!  More next week!

Gemstone of the Week ~ Topaz!

Gemstone of the Week!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment
TopazGemstones.jpg

And so we come to November!  You lucky November babies have two stunners as your birthstones and this week it's the turn of........Topaz!

The most common colours of natural, untreated Topaz are pale yellow, brown and grey as well as pastel shades of green and pink.  As these are pale, most Topaz are treated through irradiation and/or heat to produce those vivid colours we know and love!  The most popular are the three stunning blues ~ a deep blue is known as "London Blue"; a highly saturated medium blue is known as "Swiss Blue"; and a bright light blue is called "Sky Blue"

topaz.jpg

 

Imperial Topaz, with its distinct peach, pink, orange or champagne hues, is  the rarest topaz variety. It is mined in the Ouro Preto mines of Minas Gerais, Brazil and deposits were also found in the Urual Mountains in Russia. In fact Imperial Topaz was named in honour of the Russian Tsars of the 17th Century who prized its luxurious golden-sherry hues. Today Imperial Topaz is classified as a very rare gem!

imperialtopaz.jpg

It was discovered over 2500 years ago and has more folklore and legend surrounding it than any other gem. It is said to attract love and fortune, protect against enemies an is even thought to aid with willpower to lose weight when worn with moonstone!

The Greeks believed Topaz gave them strength, relieved insomnia and restored sanity ~ sounds perfect for today's hectic lifestyle!  They also thought it had supernatural powers and could make it's wearer invisible

Topaz became a talisman of power in Ancient Egypt, protecting it's owner from harm.  The Egyptians thought it received its colour from Ra, the Sun God.

Topaz is a great gem to wear in jewellery as it's strong and durable.  It's also pleochroic, a fabulous term that describes the different colours you can see in a gemstone as it's moved in the light eg red topaz can show reds, pinks and even yellows.  Get in touch if you would love to add Topaz to your jewellery collection!

 

Workshop Wednesday....Just a Couple of Days Late!

On The Bench!, Workshop WednesdayScarlett Willow DesignsComment

So this week I have taken on a challenge set by my lovely husband! His birthday falls within days of Christmas so thinking of presents to cover both can be really tricky.  Husband has always loved a boiled egg or two for breakfast so has tasked me with making him an egg cup for birthday/Christmas.  This involves using skills that I don't yet possess so I have enlisted the help of someone who does!

And so we begin with a 75mm diameter disc of fine silver......fine silver is 99.9% pure and is softer than Sterling Silver (which is 92.5%) and therefore easier to shape.  My two tools for the job are a wooden bossing hammer, this looks like a wooden pear, and numerous blocks of wood that have a circular bowl shape set into them of various sizes and depths.  The silver disc is then hammered so the edges are bought up.  It's a bit difficult to describe so hopefully the pictures below will help!

20171102_114837.jpg
20171102_114855.jpg
20171102_123005.jpg
20171102_125246.jpg
20171102_125230.jpg

.......and this is where we're at so far! It doesn't look quite like an egg cup yet but it's getting there! I'll update again next week :-)

November's Here!

NovemberScarlett Willow DesignsComment
November poem.jpg

November....the month of Bonfire Night, Toffee Apples, stunning colours in the trees and frosty mornings! I love this time of year!

From a gemstone point of view, we have the lovely Topaz and Citrine as this month's birthstones.  The poem above indicates that Topaz is an "amber hue" but the truth is that Topaz comes in many different colours including shades of blue and pink.

More to come on those beautiful gemstones over the coming month.  If you are a November baby, or know someone who is, and would like to commission a special piece of jewellery featuring one of these lovelies, then drop me a line via the "Contact" page.

Gemstone of the Week ~ Tourmaline!

Gemstone of the Week!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

You lucky October babies not only get Opal as your birthstone but also Tourmaline

Tourmaline is one of those gemstones that has loads of different varieties.  The name comes from the Singhalese word turamali meaning "gem pebbles".  I quite like that :-)  Why are they called gem pebbles I hear you cry! They're called this because the rocks in which they most often form are not as resistant to weathering as tourmaline is and so they can be found in gravel deposits as little gem pebbles.  

So, let's get onto these different varieties.  I'm going to introduce you to some of my favourites.

achroite-tourmaline.jpg

This is a Tourmaline you don't see very often and I have no idea why.  It is colourless and known as an Achroite Tourmaline.  

rubellitetourmaline.jpg

Next up is the gorgeous Rubellite Tourmaline ~ just look at that colour!  Rubellite Tourmaline shades range from pale pink to shocking red.

indicolite-tourmaling.jpg

This blue Tourmaline is known as Indicolite.

Paraiba-Tourmaline-Oval.jpg

Now this has to be one of my all time favourites! Paraiba Tourmaline is quite new to the gem world.  It's neon colour comes from the copper contained within it.  Isn't it stunning?

watermelon-tourmaline.jpg

This type of Tourmaline makes me smile every time I see it ~ Watermelon Tourmaline! Yes, this is completely natural and is known as colour-zoning.  When these crystals are sliced across, you get a red or pink centre surrounded by a rim of green.

One for the Boys.....Popping The Question!

Wedding!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

According to a survey last year of 10000 people, conducted by events company Chillisauce, the Winter months are the most popular for popping the question.

The results show that Christmas Eve is the most popular day, with 31% of the votes, followed by Valentines with 22% and New Year's Eve with 18% of the vote

What's The Best Day of the Year to Propose?

Source: www.chillisauce.co.uk

Now, I know there's a trend for proposing and then buying an engagement ring together but that breaks my heart!!  I think it's so romantic to propose with a ring that you've spent time and effort over, whether it's an "off the shelf" ring or one that's been created especially for you.  I'm hoping that if you're planning on proposing that you know your partner well enough to know whether something simple and beautiful or something blingy and over the top would be the right ring.  Maybe something unusual or quirky would be appreciated more?  

I created a ring with a rough diamond set in sterling silver that was perfect for one bride-to-be, chosen by her partner.

A beautiful rough diamond

A beautiful rough diamond

Rose cut diamonds have increased in popularity since Jennifer Aniston engagement ring.  They are an old cut which look beautiful and give a nod to being a bit different while still being traditional.

Although "diamonds are forever", consider other gemstones....Diamond engagement rings first became popular in the 1930's, although diamonds were used in combination with other gemstones in Victorian times.  Other beautiful gemstones include.....

Tanzanite, considered to be 1000 times rare than diamonds!

Tanzanite, considered to be 1000 times rare than diamonds!

Alexandrite appears different colours in different types of light!

Alexandrite appears different colours in different types of light!

One of my favourites, Padparadscha Sapphires

One of my favourites, Padparadscha Sapphires

Ring designs are something else to consider.  While traditional designs are beautiful, is this something your future fiancee would like?  Or would they prefer something a little quirkier?

If you want to commission a lovely ring that may be a little more unusual, don't hesitate to drop me a line via the contact page.

Gemstone of the Week ~ Halleys Comet Opal!

Gemstone of the Week!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

I've written about opal a few times now and, as we're in October and Opal is one of it's birthstones, I'd thought that I might tell you about one Opal in particular.

This Opal is called the Halley's Comet opal and no, it didn't come from a comet although when I heard about it, that's what I thought too! After all, Peridot has been found in asteroids so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch :-)

It's called Halley's Comet as it was found in November 1986 in Australia as the Comet was passing through the southern skies at the time it was discovered and is only visible every 75 years.  Five Australian miner's known as the "Lunatic Hill Syndicate" found the gem, the largest uncut black opal in the world, at an open-cut mine near the famous Lightning Ridge in New South Wales.   It weighs nearly 2.000 carats (!), is about the size of a man's fist and is thought to have formed around 20 million years ago, phew!  The Syndicate was made up two brothers and a small company that provided earth-moving equipment.  "Lunatic Hill" got it's name back when mining first started at the site.  Opals could be found just a few feet below the surface in the shallow flats below the hill so that's where the most experienced prospectors stayed.  Why would you need to go to the top of the hill?  Only a madman would start up there, you'd have to dig for a very long time to find anything.  But this is exactly what this syndicate did and the Halley's Comet Opal was found 20m below the surface!  Just goes to show, just because someone thinks your're mad to do something, doesn't mean you're wrong!

halleyscometopal.jpg

Wedding Jewellery - Traditions and Folklore!

Wedding!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

So I'm just going to kick straight off with the piece of Wedding jewellery pretty much everyone has.....

wedding_rings_515226.jpg

The Wedding Ring  This one goes back a loooooooong way! Exchanging wedding rings dates back as far as the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and symbolises a circle of eternity, altogether now.....Aaaaaah

gemstone.jpg

"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue and a Silver Sixpence In Your Shoe"  This is an Old English rhyme about charms that would be given to the bride on her wedding day.  The Something Old represents continuity, the Something New represents optimism for the future, Something Borrowed symbolises borrowed happiness and the Something Blue stands for purity, love and fidelity.  The Sixpence would be placed in the Bride's shoe by her father as a wish of good fortune and prosperity.  There are many ways of incorporating these into your jewellery ~ the old could be a family heirloom; the new could simply be your wedding ring; the borrowed could be a piece of jewellery loaned from your mum or best friend; and the blue could be a gemstone in your earrings or necklace.  I have combined the "Old" and "New" before into wedding rings....the "Old" was family gold jewellery that was never worn.  I melted it down and turned it into two "New" wedding rings. Drop me a line if know if you want to know more about this.

pearl.jpg

 Pearls  In Ancient Greek mythology, it was believed that pearls would ensure marital bliss if worn on your wedding day!  Pearls are traditionally given as a gift to the bride by the groom or her father to symbolise perfection, purity and innocence.

 

droppendant.jpg

Gifts for the Bridesmaids   This tradition is more than just giving a gift, it's about the friendship between the bride and her bridesmaids, the support they've given her in the run up to the Big Day.  And it's always nice to be given jewellery!

The pendant above is from the "Drop" collection and would be perfect for your bridesmaids if you were wearing the statement necklace from this range.

 

weddingcufflinks

Last but not least....

Something for the Groom and his Best Man  I made these cufflinks for a recent wedding fair where they went down a storm!  These would be a lovely gift from the bride to her groom on the morning of the wedding.  Cufflinks are also a nice memento for the Best Man and Ushers.

If something here has sparked an idea, I am more than happy to take commissions and produce something unique for your Big Day! Get in touch via the "Contact" page

Friday the 13th ~ Cursed Gemstones!!!

GemstonesScarlett Willow DesignsComment

As it's Friday the 13th, a day that is notorious for being unlucky or cursed, I thought I would tell you about some gemstones that are supposed to be cursed.  Tales of death, destruction and ill-fortune have followed these gemstones for hundreds of years...


The Hope Diamond

Hope_Diamond.jpg

This is the Hope Diamond, a rare blue 45.52 carat beauty.  In 1668, French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier bought a brilliant blue diamond in India. He sold the gem to King Louis XIV and it stayed with the French Royals in various settings.  In 1792, the French crown jewels were looted and the "French Blue", as it was known, disappeared into history.  In 1812, a diamond with very similar characteristics was in the hands of a London diamond merchant called Daniel Eliason.  According to the Smithsonian, "Strong evidence indicated that the stone was the recut French Blue and the same stone known today as the Hope Diamond"  It would appear that the gem was then owned by King George IV but sold after his death to pay his HUGE debts.  The next known owner of this beautiful gem is  London gem collector and banker Henry Philip Hope.  From the Hope family, the diamond then passed through a number of other families before being bought by Pierre Cartier in 1909.  He sold it to the socialite Evalyn Walsh McClean who claimed she could reverse the curse.  She threw lavish "Find the Hope" parties, the diamond was hidden on her estate and guests searched for it.  But things started going wrong for Evalyn ~ her  son died in a car accident; her husband left her for another woman; the family newspaper, The Washington Post, went bankrupt; her daughter died and the following year, so did Evalyn. Her entire jewellery collection was sold off to pay off her debts. Harry Winston bought the entire collection and donated it the the Smithsonian where the curse appears to be dormant!

 

Koh-I-Noor Diamond

kohinoor.jpg

This stunning diamond can be found in our Queen's crown and reputedly discovered in the Golcondas mine in India.  From there it is said it served as an eye for a Hindu Goddess statue before coming in to the possession of Shah Jahar (the emperor who built the TAj Mahal) who incorporated it into the Peacock Throne.  But his one staged a coup and had his father imprisoned.  Not long after, the Koh-I-Noor was reduced down to 186 carats from what apparently was nearly 800 carats!  Various local rulers were in possession of the stone, many met a bloody end. In 1849, the stone was then sent to Queen Victoria but the trip wasn't plain sailing! It is said that there was an outbreak of Cholera on the ship and went it docked at a Mauritius port, the locals threatened to set fire to it if they didn't leave; a storm raged for 12 hours; it was almost lost when it left in a waistcoat pocket for six months!  Today, it is on display in the Tower of London and supposedly carries a Hindu curse that says only a woman can wear it.  Any man that wears it will know its misfortunes and so no male heir to the throne has ever worn it.

 

Delhi Purple Sapphire

dehli-sapphire.jpg

Last but not least is the Delhi Sapphire which is not actually a sapphire but an amethyst.  Colonel W. Ferris was a Bengal cavalryman who bought the gem to the UK in 1857 from India where it had been looted from the Temple of Indra.  Ferris and his son lost all of their money and their health after owning the gem.  In 1890, a scientist named Edward Heron-Allen became the next owner and was struck by so much misfortune and bad luck that he gave the Delhi sapphire away twice to friends.  Both friends were then beset with disaster and gave the gemstone back to Heron-Allen, who then apparently threw it in the Regent's canal, only for it to be picked up by a dredger and returned via a jeweller who recognised it as belonging to Heron-Allen!  In 1904, the gem was placed in seven boxes, surrounded by charms and deposited in a bank safe with a letter of warning.  Instructions were left that the box would not be opened until 33 years after his death in 1943 but his daughter sent the box to the Natural History Museum where it sat for 30 years.  The letter of warning advised "Whoever shall then open it, shall first read out this warning, and then do as he pleases with the jewel. My advice to him or her is to cast it into the sea."  The Delhi Sapphire is on display in the Museum, it is said that it still makes it's presence known.....John Whittaker, the former head of micropaleontology , took the Delhi Sapphire to the first symposium of the Heron-Allen Society. He encountered the most horrific thunderstorm he had ever experienced on the way home. The night before the second annual symposium he became violently ill with stomach flu and he didn’t make the third symposium due to a sudden kidney stone!

Yay! You're getting Married! But When????

Wedding!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

After taking the plunge and doing my first wedding fair on Sunday at the beautiful Avoncroft Museum, it seems that there isn't a traditional "wedding season" any longer, with brides choosing a range of dates throughout the year.  

Summer weddings will always be popular, all brides wish for the sun to shine on their big day and summer holds more chance of that happening, even with our unpredictable British weather!  

Juno, a Roman Goddess, was the protector of women throughout all areas of their lives but particularly marriage and childbirth.  As the month of June was named after her, this became known as the luckiest month to be married.

Another reason June was so popular was down to the Celtic calendar.  On the 1st of May (Beltane in the Celtic calendar) young couples would be matched up and then "dated" for three months until the next celebration of Lammas (1st of August) when they would be married.  This this three month period soon got shortened to six weeks due to the young couples being impatient and so this bought us to the middle to end of June and the time of the Summer Solstice.

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 1947 (the earliest data available) August was the most popular month followed by December and April.  In this year, one of the most talked about weddings was in November, a fairly unpopular month at that time.  This was the wedding of our Queen and Prince Philip.

During the 1950's and 60's there was a spike in March for weddings and one reason for this is thought to be the end of the tax year in April - a married man would receive the full Married Man's Tax Allowance if he was married before the 5th of April!

Summer weddings became popular in the 1980's and this could be down to another Royal wedding, that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.  Summer weddings are still the most popular as we moved into the new Millennium so it looks as though this tradition that dates back to the time of the Celts, is here to stay.

Is, or was, your wedding in the Summer? Let me know below :-)

wedding_rings_.jpg

I'm Back!!

Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

After twelve and a half hours in the air, three different planes, a speedboat and countless times through security, we finally made it home!

Myself and my family had an amazing time in the Maldives where I enjoyed a spa treatment every day (those poor masseuses tried desperately to rid me of the knots in my shoulders but alas, they refused to budge!), dived in crystal clear waters with fish and reef sharks that I'd only ever seen at the Sealife Centre and didn't have to cook for two weeks!!

But even though we were in paradise, I always get that pull to return home.  I can't wait to get back in the workshop, I feel refreshed and raring to go! My nails actually look good but, as any other jeweller will tell you, that is not going to last!  I will very soon be back to having ridges filed into them from holding tiny pieces and cuts from those pesky burrs!  

I LOVE IT!!

20170805_130555.jpg

Tool Tuesday!

Tool Tuesday!Scarlett Willow DesignsComment

Go into any jeweller’s workshop and you will find a treasure trove of tools!  Some easily identifiable, such as a piercing saw and files, others look downright strange!  I thought I would introduce you to a few of the tools I use pretty much every day to create the jewellery you see on these pages.

The first one isn’t technically a tool but I couldn’t work without it.  I bought my workbench about 3 years ago from a jeweller in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, along with some lovely old second-hand tools…..I love second-hand tools! (More about those in another post)

mybench

Workbenches are taller than you might think, when sat down the bench should be at roughly chest height so that you can work without bending over and giving yourself a bad back!  The front edge has a semi-circle cut out so you can sit close to the work with a bench “peg”.  The peg is a slightly sloped piece of wood that jewellers cut a “V” into as well as other notches as grooves that support the piece while I work on it.  

Suspended underneath the cut-out is a bench “skin” that catches all those pesky bits that I drop as well as all the silver and gold dust that is filed from pieces and makes it very sparkly!

So this is where my day, as well as some evenings and occasionally a night, looking out of the window at the garden with a naughty kitten curled up in the bench skin and a couple of big dogs acting as draft excluders by the door…...and I love it.

naughtykitten