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Venus Earrings History and Craftsmanship

Because pearls come from the sea, they gained a permanent connection to Venus, goddess of love, who was born from the waves’ foam and carried to shore on a clamshell. Venus was also the goddess in charge of everyday drinking wine, while Jupiter was in charge of sacred wine used for religious ceremonies. Venus’s wine festivals were celebrated throughout the Empire and were very well attended. As a result, wine-purple amethyst also became a stone associated with love while green stones were connected to spring and fertility. These gems were often placed together in various combinations.

A jewelry staple for centuries, pearl studs can be as fancy or as simple as you’d like. We added our own twist with a granulated border and riveting. I chose to rivet the pearls in place, rather than glue them, not only for added security but also to showcase an ancient technique not typically used today.

These earrings were directly inspired by Greek and Roman earrings discovered in the late 1800s. Flat discs covered in granulation and set with gems or dangling pearls seemed to be a popular earring style throughout the ancient world.

Before I begin cutting the back plate from sheet silver, I had to match the cultured, freshwater button pearls. The pearls are then placed on a silver wire that I soldered to the back plate of the earring. Then, I carefully hammered the end of the wire until it flattened out like the head of a nail. This delicate work requires patience, but results in a secure, timelessly elegant earring.

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My First Cloisonné Enamel Piece

I love to use color in my work. I may wear all black every day, but I love color. That’s why I decided to try enamelling. There’s only so much you can do with gemstones to add color anyway, and enamelling has been used in jewelry to do just that for thousands of years. The type of enamel work I’m talking about is vitreous enamel. It’s pretty much colored glass ground up so fine that it’s like sand or sugar. You put the glass grains on a backing material – gold, copper or fine silver for jewelry – then put it in a kiln or hit it with a torch. This melts the grains of glass and fuses them together to make a smooth surface. It seems like there’s as many different ways to use enamel on jewelry as there are for using paint on a canvas, and just like with paint, it can be simple or complex.

The enamelling technique I decided to try is cloisonné. It invloves the use of thin strips of metal or wire to make cells (cloisons in French) that are then adhered to a backing material and filled in with (usually) different colors of enamel. The cloisons can be used to separate the colors, or be an important design element in and of themselves. Upon reading this article on Ganoksin, I was inspired to make a pendant after the designs on the gold rings from Kouklia in Cyprus, some of the oldest examples of cloisonné enamel ever found. The rings date from around the 13th century, BC.

For my first piece, I decided to use transparent enamel with fine silver. The technique I used to apply the enamel is wet-packing, where the grains of glass are mixed with distilled water and applied with a brush or small spatula. I made a little animated gif of the process, which goes roughly like this:

  1. The shaped cloisons are stuck in place, fused with a layer of clear enamel
  2. Wet-packing in the first layer of color. I used a fine sable brush.
  3. The first layer dry and ready to fire. Note the color change.
  4. Layer one is fired!
  5. This is after a few layers. You can see it’s quite high, almost to the top of the wires. I also decided to try blending from light to dark blue on the curly bits.
  6. Fired and looking good. The jewel tones are gorgeous! Almost finished…
  7. After the final firing. The wires are still a little high, but those will be ground down.
  8. The metal and glass surfaces have been ground down to be even with one another, and the enamel itself is finished!
  9. Now it’s a pendant and ready to wear.

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Heavenly Ring History and Craftsmanship

Sugarloaf Larimar Medieval Handmade Sterling Silver RingOur Heavenly Medieval Ring is modeled after medieval European bishop’s rings, which were worn by both clergy and common folk to symbolize their faith or indicate having made a pilgrimage. The rings were set with blue stones to symbolize Heaven or, in the case of nuns, Mary’s traditional blue robes. While clergy wore rings set with sapphires or lapis, regular folk would have set theirs with more economical choices in a variety of colors.

We selected a cool, refreshing larimar stone with a curved, pyramid-like shape called a sugarloaf. This shape is hard to find today, and Brian cuts the stones in his lapidary workshop before I craft the setting from sterling silver. The stone itself is a fairly modern addition to the jewelry world. When a monk first discovered the interesting stone in the Dominican Republic in 1916, his requests to mine the larimar were rejected. Not until the 1970s was the stone rediscovered and mining allowed to take place.

To date, there is only one known source of larimar, which makes the stone sought-after for mineral collectors and jewelers alike. Larimar is a beautiful stone with light or dark veins running through it. Because of this variety in shades and patterns, each ring will be unique. Rest assured, all of them will be beautiful.

 

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Labradorite Crown Ring History and Craftsmanship

Handmade Labradorite Sterling Silver Crown Ring

Brian and I work hard to ensure our labradorite’s intense colors dance with fire. We think there is nothing sadder than a beautiful piece of jewelry with a dead labradorite in it. Brian selectively sources each rough stone through various dealers and then cuts them to size for my rings in his lapidary workshop.

The stone offers a wide range of color–mixed greens and blues are most common, but you can also find red, orange, and yellow. Purple labradorite is quite rare, but sometimes you’ll see threads of the royal shade mixed with the other colors. Because of the variety in shades and patterns, each ring will be unique as its wearer. Rest assured: all of them will be beautiful.

In medieval times, jewelry was as symbolic as it was decorative. Accessories could signify both your rank within an organization, such as the military or church, and the types of stone or metal were often tightly controlled by sumptuary laws. These laws were designed to reinforce strict social classes–everything from food to clothing could be regulated, depending where you lived. Only the upper classes were permitted to wear fine jewelry and clothes, which meant many jewelers could not legally wear their own creations!

Symbols connected with royalty, such as the crown-inspired setting in these rings, were restricted to those of royal blood and people with a high rank in Court. One theory surrounding medieval portraits suggests that people held (rather than wore) certain pieces of fine jewelry because they weren’t allowed to wear the pieces, unless they were gifted to them by royalty.

This sterling silver ring is a special piece–labradorite is my favorite stone and I craft each ring by hand, carefully tracing the outline of each stone to make the crown-inspired setting just right. This fairly modern addition to jewelry was first discovered in Labrador, Canada, in the late 1700s, but wasn’t used as a gem until spectrolite, a labradorite variety, was found in Finland after World War II.

The stone has been well known to the Inuit, who believe the flashes of color and fire are the Northern Lights shining within the stone. Legend tells us a passing warrior saw the lights trapped within the stone and freed them with a mighty strike from his spear, releasing the wonder into the night sky. Some of the lights remained within, and that’s how we came to have this magical piece of nature.

Handmade Labradorite Rings In-progress

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Our Fluorite Jewelry History and Craftsmanship

Handmade Fluorite Fine Silver Roman Necklace

Rainbow fluorite was highly prized by the Romans, not only for its rarity (their only source was Parthia), but also for its beautiful bands of color.

Historically, fluorite was worked into cups and dishes to best display the patterns of this relatively-soft stone. The Romans believed that wine drunk from a fluorite cup tasted sweeter. This was partially true, as the vessels were typically covered in a clear, protective resin to prevent cracks or chips–the resins reacted to the acid in the wine and actually did make the drink a bit sweeter!

The bracelet and necklace on this page are made from fine silver, with rainbow fluorite beads spaced evenly between the lengths of chain. As I always do with my chains, I cut, fused, and formed each link by hand before weaving them together while Brian drilled the soft stones one by one. This let me thread the beads directly onto the chains as I made them.

The natural banding in the stone means each set is unique. The most common shades are greens, purples, and clear with thin bands and wisps of color.

I handmade the clasps from sterling silver as well, using a toggle clasp on the bracelet and a hook/eye clasp on the necklace.

Handmade Fluorite Fine Silver Roman Bracelet Sinclair Jewelry Torch Jewelry Making Sinclair Jewelry Making Fine Silver Links

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