Bold Porcupine

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Almost 2 years ago I found some Aragonite crystals that so intrigued me to eventually make some rings out of them.

I finally made the first one into a ring and I am in love with the outcome.  The spiky crystal cluster in it's reddish brown color almost looks like a porcupine. A nice contrast to the sleek brushed sterling silver band and organic shaped setting.

Unfortunately the silver ring band has a little flaw on one side just below the setting that somehow did not want to get fixed by all my repair attempts. Can't sell it this way. So I will have to make a new ring band. This will allow me to offer the ring to be made in any custom ring size.

The crystal is 25 x 23mm (approx. 1") , height above the finger will be 23 mm. The freeform sterling silver ring band varies between 3 to 6 mm.

Aragonite is a Calcium Carbonate. If one believes into  crystal healing powers it is an excellent stone to have around in stressful times as it is believed to reduce anger and to enhance patience and acceptance under stressful conditions. It is a fairly soft stone with a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on a Moh's scale, which slightly harder than a pearl. This is not a ring for everyday wear but definitely a bold statement ring for special occasions.

I also found some Amethyst crystal clusters at the last gem show that I will attempt to make into rings. Working with these crystal clusters is so much fun.


Pretty Splurges

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Last weekend a gem show was in town. I was contemplating for days if I even would go or not. I know I spend some serious money there. On Sunday I finally could not resist anymore and dove into the fun of hunting for little precious things. Here my newest gem stone splurges:

Found some new cushion cut square quartz again with beautiful tourmaline needle inclusions. Both stones are already listed in my shop for custom "Fold" rings.

The best treasure I got are a total of 10 Tanzanite gem stones in various shapes and sizes ranging from 0.6 to 1 carat.  The best thing is they are natural, unheated stones which is pretty rare for Tanzanites. I love those blue sparkling stones with a slight purple hint. They will be used for some unique engagement ring designs.

I also got these natural unheated princess cut sapphires in shades of white, yellow, pink and light blue.  So pretty! They range from 3.2 to 4.5 mm. Watch out for some new engagement rings.

I noticed a lot more rose cut gem stones from different suppliers in the trade only section. It's nice to be able to get more varity now for these still pretty rare and unusual cuts. It's so much better to be able to handselect each stone and compare them to each other than having to rely on photos from online sellers. I always like the freeform cuts the best for my rings.  

Beautiful rose cut rutilated quartz with very fine golden needle inclusions.  

This freeform rutilated quartz has gorgeous fine coppery red inclusions and will look great in a "Pebble" ring design.

 Two free form rose cut blue topaz and in the back a rose cut Aquamarine. 

 Rose cut sapphires. The small blue gem is 8 x 10mm, the pink stone 10 x 13mm.

 Free form rose cut Labradorite about 16 x 11 mm.

All those rose cut gems will be set in my "Pebble" ring designs. 

Now a have a lot of new treasure to work with and can't wait to have these set in new rings.

Bowl Fun

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What better break from metal dust and polishing grid than spending a evening at the Hollywood Bowl. Sitting under the few stars one can see in the over illuminated LA sky, drinking wine and snacking on brought in food never gets old.

Great show from TV on the Radio.

Also loved Panda Bear a lot.

Engagement Season

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After weeks of designing a new collection of wedding rings I now switched over to engagement rings. The engagement season is coming soon. It seems the that the time between Thanksgiving and the Holidays, or even Valentines Day, engagements are on a rise. It's the time of the year that focuses on family and home. An ideal time to pop the question and then celebrate with the entire family around.

wax models for new engagement rings

I haven't designed rings with main focus as a engagement ring before. Lot's of my other gem stone rings were used as unconventional engagement rings. I sometimes find out from the groom or even later from the bride that my Tahitian peal ring, the Flow rings with diamonds or of course the rough diamond rings or even the unconventional larger gem stone rings were used to propose. I still also love when the bride to be selects her own engagement ring. Surprises are very romantic but one should have the ring they love to wear forever.
The last few weeks I was sourcing suitable stones and thinking about designs.  Here a couple designs I carved this week in wax for some of the stones I already have.

Show here are wax models from "Fold" collection with 1.2 carat cushion cut 8 x 6 mm Morganite on left, 0.9ct cushion white sapphire in the middle and 1.1ct 6mm round Songea green sapphire. The white sapphire and morganite ring were sent out to be cast in palladium. I  did a morganite ring before in palladium and that light pink beryl gem looks so great combined with that metal.
I do like the round stone version of this "Fold" ring design. I still have lots of other round stones that I can use for this and especially a 6mm round blue sapphire and 2 orange Songea sapphires. I am casting this round one today in silver first and will be perfecting the shape and setting a bit more before I send it out to be cast in palladium.

Wax model with freeform shaped roughly 0.45ct/ 6 x 4.5 mm rose cut blue sapphire. I do have a couple of similar rose cut sapphires in different shapes and similar sizes available. This will allow me to offer this design for custom sizes and different metal options. This ring is being cast in silver today, palladium options will follow soon.

A design for a marquise cut ruby. The stone is about 0.45 carat, 6.6 x 3.5 mm. It's a tough design to get the symmetry perfect with just hand carving. I might actually model this on a computer in CAD again to archive perfect symmetry and  crisp lines. For now this hand carved wax is being cast in silver to see how it looks. I do have also blue sapphires in that size and lots of other marquise stones.

I also did a very minimalist design with a simple 4.5 mm band and a square bezel setting for this 3mm blue sapphire. It could be worn stacked with this shown matching narrow wedding band with optional 2mm sapphire set flush in the band. These are my prototypes that I am casting in silver. I will model this in CAD for a crisper look.

I accumulated over the years a lot of smaller gem stones especially sapphires, tourmalines and some rubies that are perfect for engagement rings to be worn every day. I also kept the bands simple to be able to wear a wedding band stacked next to it.

I don't plan to purchase any large faceted diamonds but rather go for moissanites instead. Especially after reading the book "The Heartless Stone" I don't feel compelled into using  these large overpriced and politically so controversial diamonds.  Moissanites are man made gem stones with more fire and brilliance than a diamond. It's hardness above 9 on the moh's scale and makes it harder than sapphires or rubies. No mining has to be done for these stones and they are guaranteed conflict free. Combined with recycled precious metal they are the perfect choice for the eco conscious person. I am waiting for some of these moissanites to arrive to then come up with some designs.


A Few Tips On Buying Handmade Jewelry

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This month topic for EtsyMetal team blog carnival is to share some comments on buying handmade jewelry.

Choosing handmade over mass produced allows you to get a very special and unique piece of jewelry that was created with dedication and pride by the artist. It tells the story of the person that created it. Expect to pay a bit more for a handmade piece that someone put a lot of love, care and skill into it.

While some irregularity is part of being hand made, the overall craftsmanship should still be excellent. Gem stones should sit tight in a well balanced setting. Some tool marks may be part of the overall design but check that there are no sharp or jagged edges that may scratch you when putting the piece on.

Make sure you understand what materials are used in this piece. If something is unclear just ask a question. Most artist are more than willing to provide you additional information.

Take advantage of customization options if available. When jewelry is handmade there is often a possibility to do some alterations like different width, stone, metal and so on to fit your needs perfectly. Some customization will cost you a bit more money as it involves more time to do the work, added materials and time to communicate the type of customization in emails, pictures etc. Be aware that the outcome might not always be exactly as you envisioned. Everyone has a different understanding of what certain descriptions mean. Be clear on how much control you want during the customization process and how much you trust the artist in their own decisions.

Make sure you understand if this handmade item is already made or are you going to have to wait for it to be created. If it is something that is going to be custom made especially for you, how long is the expected wait time? If you need something faster than the listed turn around time just ask if a express option is available.

Check if returns or exchanges are possible in case you don't like the item you purchased or it does not fit. What are the therms? Note that items you requested to have customized to your needs might not be able to get returned for full money back as the artist can't just sell them to someone else. If you are not completely satisfied, contact the artist and see if they can make some changes. Some things can easily be fixed, unfortunately some issues might not be fixable.

The biggest reward for artists are returning, happy customers. If you found one piece you love, you will likely see more from them that fits your style. It's a great way to start a relationship with the artist and support their creativity and story for many years to come. Cherish and treat your handmade jewelry well and you will have a piece you love for life.

See what tips other Etsymetal members have:

Danielle Miller-Gilliam
Rebecca Bogan
Beth Cyr
Inbar Bareket
Cynthia Del Giudice


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