This coming Sunday will be my first event of 2018, I will be at the beautiful Chateau Impney for The West Midlands Luxury Wedding Show!
This week on the bench you will find samples for some new pieces, including two new necklets. These are quite simple, one with a little texture that I think I might show with a selection of simple pendants that can be inter-changed. I will, of course, be taking my "Entwined" necklace which always gets A LOT of attention, along with the matching earrings and cuff.
The show is on from 10am til 4pm and I hope to see some of you there!
While researching for this blog post, I came across something I didn't know and is really unusual. I know Garnets are found in a variety of colours and I know that most gemstone colours are due to the presence of certain minerals. What I didn't know is that Garnet is not a single species but several species and varieties and that you cannot get a "pure" Garnet (they all have the same crystalline structure which makes them all Garnets) ~ you really do learn something new everyday!
The colour of the Garnet depends on the blend of varieties, these are:
Almandine is the most common type of Garnet and comes in a wide range of colours. The purest found was 80% almandine
Andradite is very rare and has more fire than a diamond! This has been found at 95% pure.
Grossular are rarely dark or red but are light to medium in tone. They come in every colour including colourless but never blue. The purest found was 80% grossular.
Hydrogrossular are usually blueish-green but sometimes pink, white or grey and always opaque (there is some debate as to whether hydrogrossular can be classed as a garnet)
Pyrope is a red that rivals ruby although it is very dark. The purest found was 80% pyrope, 15% almandine and 2% other garnet
Spessartite comes in a range of oranges and is quite rare. One of my favourites! This has been found at 95% pure
Uvarovite is the rarest in the Garnet family and is a beautiful green that rivals Emeralds
Rhodolite Garnets are distinctly purplish and are a blend of pyrope and almandine, while Malaia is a blend of spessartite and pyrope. One that was discovered in 2007 in Madagascar is an almandine and pyrope mix but this one changes colour in artificial light ~ blue that change to red with flashes of purple!
In the last 50 years, new blends have been discovered in East Africa and there's no reason to believe that there will be more to come. Exciting news for the gem world, jewellers.....and January babies!
Normally Wednesday's are when I show you what I've been up to in the workshop in the past week. This time of year is a little different, you'll find me curled up with my laptop, coloured pens and a note book, planning the upcoming year....what shows do I want to do and apply for, what direction do I want to take the business, what new things do I want to learn etc etc
This year, I'm using a planner from The Design Trust called DreamPlanDo to really focus on where I want to go and it's fabulous! No, I'm not getting paid to say that, I really do love this book! It is specifically for creative businesses, ideal as most creatives are great at having an idea and running with that until another idea pops into their head ~ then they drop the original one without completing it and run with the new one! Just me?? :-D
So while everyone in the house is still sleeping, I creep downstairs, grab a mug of tea and my coloured pens (I do love coloured pens) and begin....and I love how it's going so far. Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down? Even more if you share these goals with like-minded people.....
Best keep writing then!
January the 1st....have you set any New Year Resolutions?
Did you know that this tradition started over 4000 years ago with the Ancient Babylonians? Their New Year didn't start in January but in Mid-March when the crops were planted nad they celebrated with a 12 day festival called Akitu.....a new King was crowned and they made promises ti their Gods that they would pay their debts and return borrowed items to their owners. By doing this, the Gods would reward them in the coming year.
Moving forward to 46BC, the Romans changed New Years Day to January the 1st after Julius Caesar added a few more months to the calendar! January was named after a two-faced God called Janus. Symbolically, the Romans believed that Janus could look back to the past year and towards the new year to come and so made promises of good conduct to him.
These days, we don't tend to make these promises in a religious way but more to ourselves although our success rate may be significantly different!
My New Years Resolutions this year are more like reminders.....focus on the moment.....make time for the small things....always look forward
What about you? Do you make New Years Resolutions?
If I say Zircon to you, what do you think of?
I'm guessing you would fall into one of two camps......1 ~ never heard of it......2 ~ isn't that cubic zirconia??
Zircon and Cubic Zirconia are very different. CZ is a lab created stone that is used as a diamond substitute along with Moissanite, whereas Zircon is a natural gemstone. Zircon has such similar properties to diamonds that the two were often confused.
Zircon comes in almost any colour you can think of, from white/colourless to pinks to blues to yellows to oranges to violets and everything in between! My personal favourite is Cognac Zircon, such a lovely rich colour. Green is the rarest and therefore very expensive.
An example of green Zircon can be seen in the George Pendant. This is a huge 43.79 carat natural green Zircon (virtually all Zircon is heat-treated to enhance the colour) from the Ratnapura mines in Sri Lanka, and was cut by George Cravoshay and set into this pendant by his wife, designer Paula Crevoshay. It's large size and the fact that it has not been treated makes it incredibly rare and currently sits in the Smithsonian.
The egg cup that my husband challenged me to make for his birthday/Christmas is complete! I don't normally take THIS long to finish a piece but with working on shows and commission pieces, I'm afraid this had to be worked on in my "spare" (!) time.
I really enjoyed this process, learning new techniques that I can transfer to my jewellery and seeing how much work goes into a piece like this. If we think back to a time, many many moons ago, where pretty much everything was made by hand, those silversmiths have my utmost respect.
Here are the photos from start......
....to finish! TA DA!!!! I left the texture left by all those thousands of hammer strikes as I love the effect on the cup and kept the base plain as a contrast, polishing the outside and giving the inside a matt finish.
Will I ever make an egg cup again? Unlikely, but never say never! I will definitely be using the techniques I've learnt to create new pieces of jewellery though.
Hope he likes it :-)
This Friday is "Black Friday".....originating in the USA, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and signifies the start of the Festive shopping season. Stores open in the early hours offering crazy discounts and this has come over to the UK in recent years.
BUT.......this year there is an alternative ~ INDIE FRIDAY!
This campaign has been created by the lovely people at Just A Card (click to go their website). Just A Card encourages people to buy from independent business, shops, galleries and designer/makers, that buying 'just a card' makes such a difference to these small businesses.
So instead of heading to the big shops this year, support a creative businesses....buy something beautiful and unique....shop small....buy independent.....make someone do a little happy dance when you buy "Just a Card"!
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!
Have you seen this beauty in the news this week?
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?!
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.......
.....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.
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.
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.
I now need to decide on the base, finish smoothing and polishing the silver and it'll be finished! More next week!
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"
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!
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!