olympic rings & other custom jewelry musings

a lot goes into designing & creating a bespoke jewelery piece; here are some general thoughts and a recent custom jewelry project by way of example.
okay so let’s say we are designing a gift for your sister.
ideally, we actually connect on the phone and chat, engaging in a dialogue about your sister’s style, personality, lifestyle.
a few questions to get my creative juices flowing….
is this a piece of jewellery she is going to wear everyday, or rather a “special occasion” piece?
…how much wear and tear will this piece of jewelry withstand?
i seem to make a lot of rings (always had a thing for rings) and so…
does she do a lot with her hands? a gardener, a surfer, a blacksmith?
will this be worn with other jewellery that she wears everyday already?
are we adding to this ring later on? (in the case of an engagement/wedding ring combo)?

oh wait, this is for your sister, right…sorry :)

does this gift commemorate an event, i.e the birth of a baby, a wedding anniversary? if so, can we incorporate anything symbolic in the design?

ideally, i like to listen to the answers to these questions over the phone…subtle nuances that help me to free form/brainstorm. from here i can begin to design.
ideas at first, conceptualizing the feel of the piece…

here is a good example.

dean called, wanting to custom design a piece of jewelry to celebrate the birth of their first child, due in a few days. as i listened to him just talk about his wife, i immediately saw a necklace. as a new mom she wasn’t going to be fussing with jewellery, so something she can put on and not have to take off seemed appropriate.
as the mom of two little ones, i immediately saw nursing infant, ripping at shiny golden gems. note to self, sturdy chain with a pendant soothing to the touch.

dean mentioned that they had been married for some time and were excited to become a family of three. this made me think, it would be cool to represent all three of them in the piece…how about three forged yellow gold rolling rings, interlinking circles, attached to a sturdy gold snake chain.
dean wanted to incorporate his son’s birthstones. i want to incorporate stones to represent him and his wife as well. i see these interlocking rings in my mind, “sort of like the olympic rings” and he says, “perfect!” dean is involved with the u.s. olympic sailing team and he and emily spent a blissful time together in china during the summer olympics.
i flush set one side of the center link with imperial topaz, november’s birthstone, and the other side with three white diamonds, graduated size to represent him, her and bambino.

here is the finished piece:

custom olympic ring pendant

here is what she said:

“Thank you so much, Heather, for your beautiful work! I love the three rings — both their style and their meaning. The topaz and diamonds are the perfect combination, too. And the chain makes the whole thing come together beautifully.”
Happy New Year,

often, someone who finds me on the web, emails…just wants a “quick quote” on a piece that has excited them. sorry, not really possible.
all of the portfolio pieces on my site were designed especially for someone. a unique piece of jewellery is going to have as many custom variables as the person for whom it is being designed.
pretty fun process
be so well

square diamond ring


to be able to make something that is inherently beautiful, even more so…
ahh, indeed one the the great feelings that creating art brings to the spirit.

this is the joy of remounting a really beautiful stone. taking a special, or not so, piece of jewellery, disassembling it, and designing anew.
and in this economy, i think so many of us are looking for ways to refresh and rejoice without breaking the bank (isn’t it because the banks broke that we are looking for ways to conserve!)

so i am totally loving the wave of engagement ring re-mounts that i have been rocking here in the studio.
first a beautiful round solitare diamond that belonged to her grandmother, he wanted to remount the solitare onto one of my simple forged concave bar rings, but the cost of gold and platinum weren’t working themselves into his budget. always loving diamonds and silver together, i made the suggestion. such an economical way to get something so pretty.

after all, silver is very reflective. even more so than gold of any color. thus, a hefty silver bezel mount will greatly enhance the light, color and cut of a diamond.
**main drawback is that the silver will tarnish (so will gold for that matter), as always, just keep a good silver polish handy and give your ring a 3 second dip every once and awhile (connoisseurs is good brand).

so they had me forge a substantial sterling concave bar ring and gave me liberty as to how to set the stone. i ended up forging a second band to match for him and it was such fun getting to rough up the silver. and while not for everyone’s taste, i find this really gives the ring depth.
you gotto love this request from a client.
“…just make it unique, make the diamond shine and give it a sexy hand wrought feel”

after making a full bezel, i cut out away at the silver to allow more light to shine through the diamond
ultimately, what i love about the final piece is the uniqueness of the ring. there is no other quite like it, simple as it is, and the symmetry of the band is offset by the cut outs of the bezel.
okay, sorry no photo of this ring yet. however, he is a professional photographer and has promised to take a good picture of the ring this weekend and i will post it then.

i do have a photo of another sterling diamond ring that i was forging at the same time.
a sterling silver remount with the prettiest, whitest, princess cut diamond.
the ring used to be this pretty little princess cut diamond in a very elegant, very delicate white gold band.
lauren, petite and beautiful, happens to be an ice hockey player.
a bit hard on her rings, continually misshaping the white gold band and she was worried about the integrity of the setting, not wanting to lose the stone.
i ever so gingerly forged a really substantial sterling bezel around the diamond, mounted it onto a really dense, hand forged band, and damn, if this stone doesn’t look fabulous.
sparkling beyond…and one day they can set a pretty princess cut stone into her original engagement band (i save the original ring to reuse whenever possible…special if they have a little girl someday) and later on, lauren can upgrade to platinum.

so if you have been longing to re-do a special ring, engagement or other, consider sterling.
at under $500, you can seriously rock a whole new look for your stones!


Moving the jewelry studio- and the family- to Pittsburgh!

Yesterday we were working on the “moving specials on jewelry” page when we realized I’d made no “official” announcement about our move here on the blog or to my subscribers’ list of friends and fans.

So, we’re moving to Pittsburgh at the end of the month of August!

John will continue a couple of his San Diego projects both online and in person– he’s got an office space he’ll be keeping, and a few other things going on- follow him on Twitter to keep up with all that.

We’re moving on to a big simple mid-century home in the Pt. Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, just a few minutes from where my Mom grew-up and a bunch of my cousins, family friends and their kids, too. (I was actually born in Pittsburgh though I grew up mostly in CT).

There’s a perfect open kitchen and big family room as well as a sweet room for the jewelry studio looking out over the backyard– another great set up for work + kids–> we are very fortunate!

So even though, my jewelry doesn’t take up any space, I started a moving sale online because I have a handful of pieces that have been around for while and I’ve been cleaning up the bench– yesterday I found a ring that reminded me of the engagement ring I just wrote about last week, maybe from the same time period. It has a pretty green beryl set in a yellow gold bezel on a sterling silver flat bar ring, flanked by two little diamonds– check it out!

green beryl ring
green beryl ring

Here’s a partial screenshot of the sale page, click the image to see everything.

screen shot of jewelry studio moving sale page
screen shot of jewelry studio moving sale page

18k white gold ring

I had a lovely holiday visit this morning from one of my first custom jewelry | engagement ring clients here in San Diego, who brought his daughter to pick up her new 18k white gold ring, custom made to celebrate her high school graduation this spring!

custom 18k white gold ring with marquis setting
custom 18k white gold ring with marquis setting

Custom jewelry can be a great graduation gift –imagine getting to design a keepsake | heirloom yourself (at least with a jeweller like me!) at a time of life when you’re designing so much else for yourself and your future… great gift, Dad!