In case you missed it, here’s what’s been on the blog recently.
- Monday, Sept. 5: September’s birthstone is sapphire and it comes in a rainbow of colors.
- Tuesday, Sept. 6: Love big diamonds? This is the wedding ring of your dreams.
- Wednesday, Sept. 7: Snake jewelry and signet rings have endured since ancient times.
- Friday, Sept. 9: Memories of Manolo the Shoeblogger.
- Sunday, Sept. 11: Rick Rescorla, a hero of 9/11.
- Monday, Sept. 12: Ten years ago today, I wore Ossie Clark to a Marc Jacobs show.
- Tuesday, Sept. 13: Lupita Nyong’o is on my short list for best dressed of 2016.
- Wednesday, Sept. 14: New York-themed jewelry, including my taxi ring.
- Thursday, Sept. 15: Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport.
- Friday, Sept. 16: A major work in progress.
- Sunday, Sept. 18: MrB at the Emmys and my Best Dressed/Wear What You Want award.
- Monday, Sept. 19: Ten years ago today, I met news anchor Walter Cronkite and an Emmy awards postscript.
- Tuesday, Sept. 20: Rebellious jewelry is one of my specialties.
- Wednesday, Sept. 21: National Jeweler features black and gold designs.
- Thursday, Sept. 22: First day of fall, last dresses of summer.
- Friday, Sept. 23: Pantone picks Lapis Blue.
- Saturday, Sept. 24: Fashion repeats itself with anchor wedges.
Separately, I’ve previously written about part of my jewelry-making process: lost-wax casting. That’s a process in which a jewelry design is carved in hard wax. (Sometimes, the work starts in a softer wax and then progresses to a harder wax version.) A silicone or rubber mold is created from the final wax model. Molten metal is poured into the mold, dissolving the wax and taking on its shape. Then the silver/gold/platinum object is removed from the mold and all the work of perfecting the design, setting the stones and polishing the piece starts.
I don’t usually share waxes of incomplete work because (a) they can change so much and (b) sometimes I abandon a design, but that doesn’t mean I want other people to have my idea. However, I threw caution to the wind last week and posted this bird wax on Instagram. This is going to be a small part of a larger piece.
While I was being reckless, I shared the fourth version of a wax of a Queen of Scots snake ring that is still a work in progress. I don’t do my own wax carving, though I drive the whole process. I don’t have the fine-motor skills to do elaborate pieces. Not many people do, as I’ve come to find out the hard way.
The new snake ring is unusual for me because it’s being designed around a specific gem. As I’ve said many times, I normally come up with a concept, then do the metal, then find or cut gems to fit my design. This new ring reminded me of why I like to do things that way. I don’t like feeling like this gem is running the show, which it definitely is: Everything has to be in proportion to the gem. The first wax carver hired for the job couldn’t make it work.
This looks like a friendly worm with a giant head. The carver tried to adjust it twice, but I still didn’t like it (and I’ll be paying for the labor anyway). My goldsmith decided to take over personally. I was much happier with this model:
Still, after I looked at the model for a while, I told my goldsmith to make several changes. One of those eliminated some accent stones that I had planned from the beginning. (I’m adding different gems in a different location.) My goldsmith said, “You realize that you’re getting rid of the diamonds that were an important part of your original design?” I was like, “Yep.” So this is a good example of how — even though I’m not carving wax with my own hands — I control the design. Production people are welcome to offer their suggestions, but I’m always going to have the final word. I do wish I had mad carving skillz of my own. Because I don’t, I have to pay steep U.S. labor costs that increase the price I will have to charge my customers. But, as my goldsmith once reminded me, not everyone can do everything. The talented carver who created the six wax models for my (now-finished) Dragon and Knight Maneater ring didn’t come up with the concept or design of the ring or the six other rings in the Maneater series.
Nor could that particular carver turn those models into this:
Making a single ring out of those waxes required a metal caster, a gem cutter, a genius goldsmith, and a gem setter. Considering that my high-end work isn’t factory-made, a lot of people are involved in the process! Next to helping a gorgeous customer select jewelry, working with the production people is my favorite thing to do. I wish I could spend all day hanging out with them, working on dozens of designs at once!