Orange shaped Triangle

January 3, 2013

‘Another year, another day’ is usually the saying that I go by to start off my first official work day back into the so called ‘daily grind’ of life. Nine out of ten times, I’d agree with that saying but this year seems like it’s going to be a different year. Unfortunately, 2012 didn’t really seem to end on a high with all the tragedies happening around us. It was heartbreaking just reading about all these horrible things that was happening in our society. But, we are human beings and we do tend to pick ourselves up when faced with adversity. The way 2012 ended for me as a whole was on a positive note. I was busy as hell during the Christmas rush period that the jewelry industry faces around the months of November and December. Yes, it isn’t what it used to be in terms of volume of work that used to show up on my doorsteps but, times have changed and would you look at that, I’m writing a blog to share my work and help people understand the labor side of my industry. Before I get into my first blog of 2013, my heart goes out to those who lost their lives and the family and friends that were affected with these horrible tragedies.

Now on to the business end of my blog. Orange shaped Triangle? I know my blog titles are sometimes tacky but they do tend to blend in with the subject that I’m writing about. So I get this job order to make some custom made cufflinks, in 14 karat, white gold. Simple right? Not really because the customer wants me to supply and cut orange sapphires, set in a channel setting with black mother of pearl cut into the bezel which sits in the middle of these cufflinks. It sounds so simple and standard but for some reason, jobs like this always ends up on my doorsteps. If anyone knows anything about how hard it is to find baguette shaped orange sapphires, they should know how difficult this job really is. There is no such thing as baguette shaped, orange sapphires because there isn’t a demand for it so none of my suppliers would have these stones, sitting around,collecting dust. My next option would be to find oval shapes sapphires large enough to cut down to the size I need. Seems simple, right? No, it isn’t simple. You need enough pieces, which in my case, 30 pieces that match in color and size. The size that I need are 6x4mm oval shapes which then, I need to cut down to some special cuts which involve tapered cuts and what not. Okay, so oval shaped, 6x4mm orange sapphires seems easy enough right? First of all, to find 30 pieces that match in color is going to be a difficult task. This requires me to find a few suppliers that carry orange sapphires.

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Fast forward the boring and annoying parts and I went through three suppliers and I found myself 32 matching 6x4mm oval shaped stones.

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So here comes the fun part. Mapping out how I’m going to cut these sapphires. There are three corners in a triangle, obviously, but for those who didn’t know, you’re welcome and you can thank me later for your geometry lesson for today. I tried cutting a large diamond shape for each corner and it looked ugly so my next step was to cut that diamond shape that I originally thought would work, in half. So each corner would need 2 stones, sitting flush, next to each other, supported by the bezel walls.

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Here you got my pops cutting the sapphires to the sizes that I need.

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He’s changing out the wheel so he can start polishing each facet he put on the orange sapphires.

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As you can see here that having a large stone on each corner would make it look so bulky so cutting the sapphires in half just made it look so much better.

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My customer approved on how we were going to cut the sapphires for all three corners because frankly, it looked ten times better. After I got the okay, my father started the process of cutting the other 10 stones for each corner of the cufflink pairs.

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After cutting the sizes needed for the corners, my pops polished the sapphires. The next step is where your setter comes into play. This is the part where you pray that you have a good setter that knows how to work and set colored stones so he doesn’t end up breaking the stones. This isn’t your ordinary channel setting so it’s vital your setter is a seasoned veteran when it comes difficult jobs like this.

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‘On the money’, so far, with the setting job. You start to get excited when your job is starting to come to life. The next process is cutting six pieces for each cufflink, so twelve total for the pair, of baguettes. tapered cut on one side only to sit flush with the corner sapphires. That should leave you with the middle section open where a straight baguette should sit, which is 6 total for the pair of cufflinks. This is the part where I fast forward the setting process and just show you the finished product.

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Amazing. ‘On the money’ job by my setter again. So for the final part of this special order, I supplied and cut some black mother of pearl for the middle bezel section but I did not glue it just yet. I had my jeweler polish and rhodium the cufflinks so that all I had to do was just glue the mother of pearl into the bezel. Fun fact of the day, rhodium ruins mother of pearl.

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Here’s my dad gluing the black mother of pearl into the cufflink.

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Beautiful. I mean, it’s not something that I would wear personally but the amount of time and effort and the years of experience and skill that takes to complete a special order job like this to perfection, isn’t always appreciated. My customer loved the cufflinks and that’s all that matters.

On that note, I want to wish you all a successful and happy 2013 and hell, the Mayans were wrong, the world didn’t end and I’m thankful for that. Till next time…

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Armored Innovation

November 16, 2011

This post was supposed to be up 2 weeks ago but I’ve been lagging it. I don’t buy into the whole notion of saying ‘I don’t have time’, because you can always make time for anything you put your mind to. I either fire my secretary, which I don’t have, or I learn how to schedule myself better. Anyway,  I always love coming up with different cuts that’s not in the norm. They’re usually special cuts to inspire that designer in us all. Shapes that you won’t find in the market because there isn’t a demand for that shape. Well, I was inspired to come up with this new cut that looks like a shield so I named it a shield cut because me being the artist/designer, I have to exercise my artistic freedom.  If you have a vision I can shape your creation so feel free to ask me or send me your requests. Ok, enough selling myself, time for the good stuff.

First off, I’m a fan of Amethyst. One, it provides me with a wide range of that purple hue color that I’m a fan of. Two, It’s affordable and I have a that freedom of trial and error without killing my pockets. You can waste a lot of money if you’re not trained when mapping out where and how to cut your piece of rough so take your time and map out the steps when dealing with the cutting process.

So here’s my piece of rough I chose. This particular Amethyst is a ‘rose de france’ amethyst. The color is reminiscent of a lavender lilac shade which is a lighter color that usually comes from the Amethyst family.

This is the process of slicing. I need to slice this piece of rough in order to get my desired section I choose to preform the stone out of.

This diamond grade disk is spinning at a high RPM. Water is needed to cool off the friction this process causes.

Take your time when pushing the piece of rough through the disk. You don’t want to break the stone and don’t want to lose a finger in the process so be cautious if you ever decide to slice.

So I sliced through the rough and notice how clean it came out.

I displayed the two pieces of sliced Amethysts for an up-close, personal view so you can to check out the aftermath of the slicing process.

After the slicing process, I started to preform the Amethyst. I started the process by hand until I got the desired shape I’ve been looking for. I then transferred the stone to my dop stick (check out one of my older blogs by clicking on the link to get the terminology, I.E. ‘doping stick’ by clicking here.) for a more controlled and measured feel to the shape I was aiming for.

If you can see here, I’m cutting rounded inward grooves into the girdle (the side of the stone which separates the top from the bottom of the stone).

I got the rounded areas done. This is that time in this process where you really start to get excited by the way it’s starting to take shape.

The next step for this rose de france amethyst is to start cutting some facets into it.

I’m touching up the rounded sections on the girdle.

I added a regular table to the top of the amethyst but I wasn’t too pleased with the outcome so I decided to go with a double-sided checkerboard rosecut to the stone.

I love the ‘trial and error’ process. I’m honestly satisfied with the final product.

Why put the inward, rounded grooves into the stone you ask? I don’t know, maybe I can build something with bezels that snuggle perfectly into those grooves or have some sort of prong or build some weird bezel? Who knows, it all comes down to your artistic innovation – when that designer in you comes out to play.

Till next time…

Fried Chicken and Gems

October 24, 2011

Fried Chicken? Really? Once I saw this picture, I had to share my thoughts on it. Some of you may or may not know who Nicki Minaj is but for those who don’t know who she is, she is a pretty big recording artist. I don’t want to call this a rant but more of a funny mention to what she was sporting around her neck recently. Just have a look at the image below.

I don’t know what to say. If someone asked me to make them a special order of some fried chicken necklace, of course I’d be happy to make it, but this is just too funny. This necklace is perfect for the trending topic of #hoodmemories on Twitter as I type this. Over the top? Yeah, it is. Fits her character? Of course it does. In the end, I’m not going to sit here and judge someone on what he or she decides to flash in public and I always go by the saying, ‘whatever makes you happy’.  Moving on…

I’m stuck and honored with the duties of trying to figure out what kind of center stone I can put into this white gold ring I made for a customer of mine. All they said is ‘something yellow’ in a cushion cut with a certain budget they want to stick by. I was thinking of something like a yellow ceylon sapphire or a yellow tourmaline. Any suggestions? This is the part where you help me decide with your suggestions.

It’s a beautiful and elegant looking ring that deserves something nice in the middle. One of the perks of being a gem cutter dealing with special orders is that I have the power to cut any shape and size to my needs and nothing holds me back when dealing with jewelry related problems like this one.

I have this obsession with showing off Tanzanites in my blogs for some strange reason. Well here’s another one for you viewing.

This 20 carat plus monster of a stone needs more life to it. No disrespect to all the hard workers over seas but most of the stuff I see cut from Asia and India is way below par. They are told to cut to preserve the weight while sacrificing the quality of the cutting job. I’m a big advocate of USA made products when it comes to the jewelry world. This topic is a perfect intro to the following images you’re about to see.

I don’t know if you can tell from the image but this is a parcel my customer received from their factory in Thailand and my first glance at these multicolored sapphires, I thought to myself, ‘were they drunk when cutting this?’

The cutting is awful, the person who maps out from where to cut the sapphires from the original rough, should be fired. These sapphires are filled with inclusions that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

It’s my responsibility to re-cut and salvage these sapphires so that they can be presentable and can easily move rather then collect dust in some parcel bag in some stone dealers safe.

Next week, i’ll be showing you a detailed look at this special new cut I’ve been cutting. Till next time…

3-1 kind of a weekend

October 4, 2011

I’m going to make this a short one and not a 1000 word blog. 3-1 kind of weekend? It’s a play on words title I chose. It’s referencing my beloved San Francisco 49ers record into a young season. Niner fans have been suffering for about 10 years and milking it ‘while it lasts’ is one thing that I will be doing. I’m also going to share with my readers 3 various jobs that I’ve done. Hell, I’ll just include a YouTube video showing you a process of this coral job I did.

So I get this order for this red coral job that I needed to supply into a tear drop shape with grooves cut into them. You may remember a blog I wrote on this Turquoise job I did called ‘Turquoise Grooves‘ which explained the whole process.

I mapped out how and where I’d like my grooves to be cut on this calcium induced piece of red coral using a small disk drill bit.

As you can see, this is the process of mapping out lines into the tear drop coral.

Here’s that video I promised showing you the process.

You may notice that I cut the lines deep so I have room to make the grooves.

Here’s the finished product. I filed the grooves in and used various custom made drill bits to give it that rounded look between each groove.

I finished it off with a 1mm hole so that some sort of post would sit into the drilled area.

So I get this David Yurman two toned ring in that needed a new Moonstone cut into it.

I supplied a nice cushion cut cabochon Moonstone to sit into the bezel.

The stone should sit perfectly inside and I recommended to my customer to glue it in and to do a light hammer on the walls of the bezel to give it that extra secure fit into the mounting.

And finally, I machine cut, to the millimeter, diamond shape cut blue sapphires that I supplied into this white gold ring.

As you can see, they go from large, medium, to small.

The blue sapphires sit perfectly into the desired area and some how, I kept this blog from reaching 400 words which is a new record for me. Hopefully, I’ll have another blog out and running by the end of this Friday. Till next time…

I feel like I start off every blog by apologizing for not posting my once a week post. I’ve been so busy (knock on wood) that I’ve fallen behind. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working on my blog. A lot goes into preping my blogs. I’ve developed a system I go by that involves showing you step by step photos of the labor process that goes in to my work. I usually take about 20-30 photos with my HTC EVO. Funny enough it’s from my camera phone but the technology on cellphones have come a long way and they rival any standard digital camera out there. I then transfer all the photos on to my computer and touch up the resolution of photos on Adobe Photoshop. It’s a process and a half but it’s worth it if I’m getting my point across to my readers. In order to deliver the goods, you have to keep the high standards and keep improving on each blog post.

Now, on to the business end of my blog. So I get these two matching pair, 14mm round Tanzanites the other day from a customer of mine that wanted to have it cut into a special fancy cut. If you want a nice and easy breakdown on Tanzanites, please click on the link ‘here‘ from a previous blog post I wrote a while back. Other then that, take a look at these beauties of a Tanzanite.

For people who don’t realize how hard it is to match certain stones, let alone to find 14mm round matching Tanzanites, in this quality, just do me a favor and appreciate the rarity of these images and good luck finding two matching stones like these in this size.

These images don’t do any justice to stones like this so I took a bunch of pictures to show off that nice blue with a hint of purple color these beauties give out.

The last two photos is a shot of the pavillion. What the customer wanted me to do is cut these Tanzanites into a domed, almost ball-like shape, matching 11mm pairs. This is where the title of my latest post comes into play. Tanzanites are expensive and when I’m asked to cut them into some fancy domed cut, the stone is going to lose a lot of weight. It’s called a massacre in my book, hence the title but the outcome is beautiful. If you’re still lost, continue looking at the next photos and you’ll see the process unfold and you’ll get what I’m talking about.

I glued the Tanzanite upside down on the dope stick in order to get the domed look because the pavillion is where all the weight is held.

The first thing I did was to cut the size needed so it can fit into the custom earring being made for the Tanzanites. I trimmed it down to 11mm from the original 14mm. As you can see, I now have space to pre-form the stone into a domed shape before I start cutting in the facets.

So I rounded out the Tanzanites with a the biggest dome I can get out of the stones and added the facets. It’s sort of free form but it resembles a Portuguese cut.

This is the polished and finished product. They don’t look like they don’t match but I promise it’s from the picture.

You’ll see a series of photos from different angles so you can get the complete show of these beauties.

The thing with Tanzanite, for example is that 85% of the stones you get look like a 5carat stone from the top/table but when you put it on a scale it reads 9 carats. The high concentration of mass is sitting in the butt (pavillion) of the stone and as a result emits a killer blue-purple color.

Cutting the Tanaznite bottom heavy, retains the color in most cases. My customer was aiming for a ball shape and was hoping to retain most of the original color from before I cut into them. He lost about 10% of the color but nowhere else in the world do these Tanzanites get cut like this.

What was the top of the stone, the table has now been demoted to the bottom of the stone.

I used a little flash to bring out that killer color I’ve been raving about. Imagine these matching pairs in natural day light and how much attention it’ll attract for it’s owner.

Now I thought this was the finished product and my customer was happy with it but when he started to make his earrings, he wanted the girdle area more rounded and faceted. This is why this blog has been lagging.

So I rounded out the girdle and continued the facet patterns.

The original size was a size 14mm and in order to get that dome for the Tanzanites to sit in the setting, I cut it down to the biggest size possible, which was an 11mm and rounding out the girdle, the millimeter size dropped to a 10.8mm.

On a final note, projects like this excite me and always keeps me on my toes. It’s out of the ordinary jobs like this which makes what I do different form the same daily grind the most people go through. I’ve been working on this onyx piece that just keeps breaking on me where I have to carve into it and inlay this shield emblem. Yes I cursed when it broke but in the end, it’s a trial and error process which helps develop new tools and techniques that can be utilized for future projects. It’s  a learning experience and I am always willing to learn something new. Hopefully by Monday, I’ll have another short blog up with few things I’ve been working on. Till next time…

Turquoise Grooves

July 29, 2011

I’ve been slacking once again with my blog entries. I do apologize, but I have a good one in store for you today – Turquoise. If you come to my office, you’re bound to find turquoise rough just hanging around somewhere. I actually just stopped typing to take a peek into my workshop to catch a glimpse of a turquoise rough just hanging next to the window. So, before I describe my most recent endeavor, let me share some information about turquoise.

Turquoise is an opaque stone, which means it is not see-through. It has a hardness of just under 6 on the Mohs scale. Turquoise is found in or near copper deposits/mines as it depends on the presence of copper ions for it to form. It is composed of a hydrous hydrate of copper, aluminum and phosphorus elements. Turquoise was one of the first gem stones to be mined. It comes from all over the world (Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Siberia, Tibetan, Turkey and the US of A). The particular turquoise I am working on comes from a unique mine located in Arizona. The western state is home to some of the largest mines in the world including the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ mine where my stone originates. Sleeping Beauty turquoise is a solid stone with no matrix that ranges in color from Royal Blue to a very light Sky Blue. Generally speaking, turquoise color ranges from green to greenish-blue to blue.

And what better way to finish off this little digression on turquoise with these interesting facts! Did you know that no English gentleman of the 17th century was not regarded as well dressed or well adorned unless he wore jewelry of turquoise? This stone was so highly valued that all 79 of the emeralds in the crown that Napoleon gave his consort Marie Louise were replaced with Persian turquoise cabochons. In my opinion, I prefer sleeping beauty turquoise for its color, quality, and the nice value it carries. I personally think it’s better than the Persian stuff. Again, that is my opinion.

I made a special order ring about a year ago with diamonds around the mounting and I supplied it with a high cab sleeping beauty turquoise with grooves that I carved into it. I would of blogged about it but I didn’t have a blog at the time. But now I do!

My customer has asked me to cut 2 matching oval shaped sleeping beauty turquoise with the same carved grooves for some earrings that she wants to make.

Here’s the top view of the Carved Sleeping Beauty Turquoise I supplied and cut.

Here’s a side view. Notice the classy look on the ring, yet the Turquoise is still the center of attention.

So I go pull out some Sleeping Beauty Turquoise rough.

Here’s another angle. I’ll be slicing through this to get the deserved size I want before I preform the turquoise.

I quickly preformed the 2 pieces of turquoise I need with a flat bottom by hand after I sliced it from its rough form.

Here’s another angle. Notice how high the dome is. It gives me room to carve into the turquoise and give it its groove without sacrificing too much of the height of the stone.

I glued the turquoise onto the dopping stick as a guide so I can start going into detail with the desired size. I’m using a millimeter gauge to measure the 16x12mm size I need. If you don’t know what a dopping stick is, click this link ‘here‘, which should take you to one of my first blogs explaining the steps into the gem cutting world.

you have to apply the softest touches to the disk or it’ll eat away at your turquoise.

I ended up with 2 matching color, cut, and shaped beauties (no pun intended) after I used the preforming machine.

Here’s a side view of the matching turquoise cabochons on the dopping sticks.

I removed it off the wax/glue and I started to pencil in the areas where I’d be carving in the grooves.

Here’s a better look. What’d did you expect? A pencil is an awesome tool sometimes.

I just started filing in the grooves. Sorry, my bench light is ruining the picture but you get the idea.

I’m using my filer to cut into the turquoise. By doing it by hand, you have more freedom in your movement.

I’m working the edges on the turquoise here.

I finished using the hand file. It sort of looks like a preformed state after I filed it.

I started using a specially designed drill bit with a round disk with an inward curvature to round out the grooves.

I took it to my lapidary machine and gave it a little nice polish on top to get these 2 beauties.

Matching cut pairs.

That was a fun and challenging project. Next week I’ll start putting some of my special orders I get that  involve some sort of gem cutting + whatever I make for the gemstone. Till next time…

‘G.D.’ for those of you who don’t know is a  ‘Gem Doctor’. People come to me to solve their gem cutting and inlay lapidary needs. Hell, I even blogged about it here (click the link to view the ‘gem doctor’ blog). I have a quick blog for you guys I’d like to share. I get this customer coming in with a problem. He has a 55carat oval shaped Tanzanite. A monster of a stone with a cut so bad, he’s having a tough time selling it. Whoever cut this overseas, cut the stone comparable to the 5 dollar a day salary he makes. Look, if you have a Ferrari frame and put some Toyota Camry body kit on it, the car is going to look like a Toyota Camry. Get it? You get what you pay for. I don’t think you can tell by the pictures but this stone had the wrong cut, an uneven side to it, and wasn’t given the love it deserves. He wanted me to improve the cutting and I’m telling him it’s going to lose about 30 percent of the stone and thats about $3k worth of weight loss right there so he opted not to cut it and let the stone look like Shrek.

Beautiful color but as you can tell, look at the top left corner of the stone and you can see the uneven area.

The pavillion on this Tanzanite was cut into a portugease cut and it’s cut with a fat bottom to give it maximum color. Can’t tell from the image but it’s bad cutting.

… I’ll hand it to the stone, it has a great vibrant purple/blue color to it.

I also received this yellow gold diamonds set around the bezel style piece with a gold plate bottom. Customer wanted an 8mm thick, domed, rose-cut top with a slightly domed cabochon bottom Lemon Quartz. Done.

Slightly domed cabbed bottom

Hopefully by friday the 17th of June, I’ll have my monster of a blog including 20 pictures and a video ready. I made a rose gold, diamond pave piece with a custom cut onyx in the middle of the ring for a customer.

A little preview..

By the end of next week, I’ll be featuring some work I do for a great LA based jewelry designer named ‘Lena Wald’. So keep your eyes peeled for that one!

‘Cigar band’ faceted onyx with silver lining by Lena Wald.

Inlay Into History

May 18, 2011

(sorry for the lag on this…)

As I was sorting out images to upload into this blog on Sunday, the 8th of May, I was one of the many in Laker nation, thinking that a comeback was possible. As it turned out, It was like I was watching a bunch of Ray Allen’s lighting it up beyond the arch and the game was done, just like that! Swept! I was 2/3 on all things positive that day. I woke up at 7:45am to watch my beloved Manchester United destroy our nearest rivals, Chelsea in a 2-1 victory (don’t look at the scoreline, it should of been 6-1.. BTW, we won the league). I greeted my mother with a happy mother’s day, kiss, hug, and a card with some chocolates. Then the Lakers happened. Apparently, BenBaller from IfandCo. confirmed the news about some controversy regarding Kobe and Pau. The blog article is here. Pau Gasol in the playoffs turned into Pau Gasoft. A big let down but It’s ok, hopefully by next season, we’d have a better starting line-up/bench.. *AHEMdwighthowardAHEM*. My Gem Cutter’s Corner blog has turned into a venting forum for me. I’m trying different formats on how I should write my blogs. I’m trying to include personal life with my work stories. A better way to get to know me through my writings, rants, and venting.

Speaking of my footballing club, Manchester United are partnered with watch makers Hublot for the new ‘Manchester United x HUBLOT -King Power Red Devil’. Hublot incorporated actual grass from the field, Old Trafford, to each index on the face of the watch. Thought it was interesting by sharing it in this article here.

Now to the jewelry. I received this yellow gold ring that needs some black onyx inlaid into the leaf shaped slot. This particular job is labor intensive and hopefully, my pictures give me some sort of justice when it comes jobs like this onyx job. People say, ‘it’s onyx, why are you charging so much?’ I know it’s onyx, but you try to cut that piece of onyx into that slot at the price that YOU think it should be priced at!

First thing I look at is the thickness and the rounded curve on the ring to figure out how much you need to cut from the onyx rough. Once I figured that part out, I get my white tape, stick it to the top of the desired area and with my razor blade, cut out the shape of where I’m inlaying. I placed my guidance tool/tape on the onyx and begin to cut away until it fits into the ring. Take a look at the images below so you can get a better understanding.

Yellow gold ring that is in need of some inlay onyx work in a shape of a leaf.

I sorted through some rough, thick enough for this inlay work. Notice the ring is curved, which means I need a thicker piece of onyx to make the onyx flush. I applied my white tape, used a razor blade and traced out a guide to make life easier on me while I start the inlaying process.

To get the sharp edged areas, I used my hand drill.

Once I get it close enough I start to adjust and fit into the open slot till it sits tight and comfortable.

Once you get it fitted, I glued the Onyx into the ring and let it rest for a day. Keep in mind, if there’s a gap, I have to start this job all over.

Once the glue has dried, I get on my lap machine and start to grind down on it until it’s flush.

And finally, I get on my polishing lap machine and smooth it out and give it that give that shine that it deserves.

Till next time…

As promised, part 2 of the blog I wrote last week, https://cicadajewelrydesign.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/greek-for-evil-eye%e2%80%9d-part-1/. (this blog could of been released yesterday if the internet server at coffee bean not crash on me…)

‘It’s like ‘rolling a joint,’ as our green friendly readers would say. This is the best way and technique to round out the lapis to that bead shape that I am aiming for….’

I added a small video clips to see how the process is done.

Next, I need some white mother of pearl. I find some white mother of pearl shells that I can cut material out of. I use my saw again to complete this process. I prep that part out and here comes the most difficult part. I need to pick three sections around this lapis where I need to fit free-formed, eye shaped white MOP’s. I carefully map out my spots and I get on my bench. I use a hand-drill and start opening a slot to where I can inlay this MOP. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I need to include a 3mm thick hole that goes through from one end to the other. That should be the first step in the process before creating inlay slots for the white MOP. When drilling into anything, water is your best friend. Friction and heat will cause things to break or crack. Keep that in mind when drilling gemstones. Anyway, after a few hours of creating inlay slots for me to inlay the mother of pearl; I check the whole stone to see if there are any cracks or inclusions that would break this thing. Everything panned out fine and on to the pre-forming machine. I get the white MOP close enough to ‘exact fit’ and move to the bench. With the hand-drill I slowly start shaving off the walls and see how and where I need this thing to fit into the lapis. It’s sort of a ‘trial and error process till you get it fitting completely. Once I’ve fitted all three white MOP’s into the lapis. I start the epoxy process, aka, glue.

I apply the epoxy to the walls of the mother of pearl and inside the free-formed slots and gently fit it into the inlayed area. Once you’ve finished the epoxy process, let it sit for a couple of hours till it hardens and sets. This part is pretty crucial. I need to drill a 2mm hole so I can inlay onyx into the white mother of pearls. I have an old school ashtray filled with water and a piece of graded rubber pad, all in the ashtray. I place the lapis bead on top of the rubber pad till its level with the water. I’ve changed the drill bit on the hand-drill to a 2mm sized bit and with one hand, I hold the bead, in the water and use my hand-drill with the other hand and I slowly puncture a hole into the middle of the white MOP. Success! Now I have another two to go, plus another evil eye bead! Hurray! (Yeah right… if something small goes wrong, I’d have to start all over again.)

Once I get my freshly drilled holes in place, time to insert 2mm sized onyx’s to fit for my pupils… Before I continue, I was having my coffee at the local coffee shop here in downtown Los Angeles and one of my coffee buddies was telling me a story about some Armenian liquor store guy. He had a giant evil eye hanging on the wall and he asked him, ‘Hey, what’s the deal with the big ol’ eye hanging behind you?’ The man grabbed an old, 8×10 photo and replied, ‘this is a picture of me when I was a child and I was told that I was a beautiful child at the time of the photo was taken.” The man then pointed at himself and said, “Do you see what happened to me after someone told me that I was a beautiful child? This is why I have the eye hanging behind me.” I thought I’d share that. I found it ironic and funny at the same time because I’m blogging about the evil eye. Anyway, I was just talking about how I needed to fit 2mm sized onyx into the slots I just made. I inlay them into each whole and add a bit of epoxy into the hole and stick the onyx in them and wait for them to dry. Take a look at the images to get a better idea on what I’m talking about.

I’ve reached the point where I see the finish line in the horizon and it’s time to shape these two beads with my cabochon machine and give it a nice shine. Once I’ve given the beads a nice rounded edge on both sides, I start the polishing process to give it that flush and smooth surface this ‘Apotropaic’ deserves. Done! I hope it was this blog was a good read and fed you information about different cultural beliefs and their practices and how a simple charm or jewelry could be found hanging on your rear view mirror. Till next time!

Let me start off by explaining the title of my new blog. ‘Apotropaic’ or ‘Prophylactic,’ is Greek for ‘protective.’ The latest edition to my blog is all about the ‘evil eye.’ Don’t worry, I won’t be casting an eye on my readers but I will be explaining the history that haunts many from the Mediterranean cultures and others around the world that believe in the concept of the “evil eye.” On top of my blog’s main page, I’m sure you noticed different angles of this ‘bead’ which represents the ‘evil eye’ of course! I had one of my customers call me up asking me to cut him two pieces about 12mm in length and 8mm thick with inlay white mother of pearl for the ‘whites’ of the eye and a small round onyx acting as the pupil. I’ll get to that a bit later. Ok so where was I??? Ahh yes, so pretty much you have a bunch of cultures around the world, that find the evil eye a bit worrying. Why? I’m glad you asked. The evil eye is a look that is superstitiously believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or cast bad luck at whom it is directed for different reasons like envy or dislike. How it works? Say your friend gets a new car and you become envious in the idea of your friend that just purchased that new car. That envy is powerful enough to cause bad luck to you and or your car. Anyway, the idea expressed by the evil eye causes many cultures to pursue protective measures against it. This love affair dates back all the way to the early translations of the Old Testament. The belief was widely passed down from Mediterranean tribes, to Egyptians, who later passed it down to the Greeks who later passed it to the Romans. Pretty much a big domino effect in the making.

There are many protective ‘cures’ or ‘prophylactics’ depending on which culture you want me to go through. Asians painted their faces black. Ancient Greeks used to use healers that recited prayers. Assyrians and Armenians used to wear a turquoise bead necklace around their necks or pinch their butts to keep them safe from the evil eye. Romans believe in charms and also used spoken word to keep the eye away. The Mediterranean’s used to make disks or balls, consisting of concentric blue and white circles (usually, from inside to outside, dark blue, light blue, white, dark blue) representing an evil eye are common ‘Apotropaic’ talismans in the Middle East, found on the prows of Mediterranean boats and elsewhere; in some forms of the folklore, the staring eyes are supposed to bend the malicious gaze back to the sorcerer.

 

I can go on and on, and I would love to, but it would defeat the purpose of the layouts of my blogs. Gem cutting and inlay lapidary!

So I get this call that a customer of mine wants 12mm in length with an 8mm thickness, evil eye made out of lapis. I suggested to him that we use white mother of pearl for the white area of the eye and onyx acting as a pupil. So I started to go through all my rough of lapis. The key here is to try to find a piece of rough that’s about 14mm in length and 10mm in thickness so I have room to play with here when it comes time to pre-form this evil sucker. I find 2 pieces of rectangular shaped lapis and I start the sawing process. I turn on my saw, dip a sponge in water and just wet the saw. This will cool the cutting/sawing process by limiting the friction/heat when the piece of lapis or any other stone comes into contact with a high-powered saw. I get the two pieces that I need and I move to the pre-forming process. Using both thumbs and index fingers, hold the piece of lapis and make contact with the disk while rotating the lapis. It’s like ‘rolling a joint,’ as our green friendly readers would say. This is the best way and technique to round out the lapis to that bead shape that I am aiming for.

Next week, I’ll add a ‘part 2’ and finale of this blog post (it was too long so I decided to break it down into 2 parts.) . I’ll add more images and video of the process to show some of the processes of completing this job.. Till next week…

“Masha’Allah” to ward off the evil eye which it literally means in arabic “It is as God has willed”.