Emerald Aisle

July 30, 2012

On to my 31st blog post. I’ll just pat myself on the back for reaching this small milestone. My last blog post wasn’t up-to-par according to my father, the godfather of the gem cutting and inlay lapidary world. Touché dad, you were right. I blame writers block. Hopefully this post makes up for the last blog I put up. Let’s dive right into it then, shall we?

So I get this job where we had some non standard cut baguette emeralds that were sitting in a channel set setting on one side. On the other side of this ring, we had some baguette diamonds also sitting in a channel set. The ring had a large emerald cut diamond and a large emerald cut emerald acting as the two center stones for this old school accessory (probably dating back 50-70 years to my estimation). Before I continue, ‘non standard cut’ stones means that you wouldn’t find this style at your regular gem dealer. Standard cuts usually follow manufacturing guide lines based on increments of size change. I.E. 4x2mm, 5x3mm, 6x4mm, etc… That’s the easiest way to explain it for people not familiar with industry terminology. So for something like the size I need to cut down to, at 4.2×2.2mm, I’d need to find a stone close to that size. It’s always economical for me to find something that is as close as possible in size and weight.  Every gem stone has some sort of market value set and and you multiply it  towards the weight and you get the total worth of the stone itself.

With this particular job, the emeralds in the channel set were damaged from years of wear and tear, and the outside walls of the channel needed some laser soldering. Plus, to finish off the ring a nice high polish. You may be wondering where are all the pictures? (coming up below). I wasn’t planning on making a blog on a standard job like this but what unfolded, became a nightmare.

Before I hammered out all the emeralds to break them to start my process of cutting new emeralds for my setter to set into this ring, I took it to my jeweler to fill in the walls by laser soldering the area. While applying the gold solder onto the outside side wall, my guy calls me in to see what’s going on.  We were all baffled with the current situation we were facing – the metal started to crack and flake.. I did a little research and it turned out this ring was nickel plated. So here’s my educated guess on what was done to this ring (I might be wrong but it makes perfect sense). The ring was originally 18karat white gold and whoever owned this ring decided to nickel plate the piece. Why would you do that? My guess is that when you nickel plate something, it produces a crazy shine that sterling silver gives off and it’s way cheaper versus plating something in gold and silver. Nickel plating consists of copper, nickel and zinc properties. Economically speaking, it sort of makes sense. My customer didn’t know it was nickel plated and nor did I. This is where I started to think this job was ‘blog’ worthy.

Notice the indentation on the wall? That’s where I’m supposed to fill it in with the laser solder process.

You can sort of tell some of the emeralds are damaged from the image but take my word on it, they were all either chipped, cracked or damaged in some sort of way. You can even see on top of the wall of the channel there is a bit of damage as well.

What we decided to do is rebuild the whole channel from scratch, lap off all the nickel plating, and build a new support system and new channel for the new emerald baguettes. If you take a look, the large emerald cut emerald center stone was removed to avoid damage that heat and any stress would cause the stone. Emeralds are very fragile and few brave setters dare take on such a task of setting these stones. They’re loaded with tons of natural inclusions you can visibly see and not see so you have to be careful setting them or they will break on you.

The walls are slightly higher then the rest of the ring because it gives the diamond setter more flexibility while setting and it would be eventually leveled out and made flush with the rest of the ring.

So we started to set the baguette emeralds into the channel. In situations like these, it’s always great to have your setter close by when working on jobs which require each stone to have a special measurement in order to accent the limited space you have to work with. The setter would tell me ‘trim the stone from this angle a little bit’ and we’d go from there.

I’ll let you marvel a little so I can stop rambling.

This monster of a ring turned out just fine. It’s like I restored an old car back to life with some modern touches. The customer was extremely happy with the results, after some unexpected hiccups on my end, but it was well worth the trouble. The owner of this ring should be proud sporting such a classic on their finger.

So this is where I want to plug myself via my Instagram page to expand my viewership . If you have instagram, look me up at ‘CJD_Sako‘ or click on this link here, http://followgram.me/cjd_sako/ which should take you to my profile. I’m not sure you can follow someone via a home computer but from what I read, followmegram.me allows you add a user without a phone. For my next blog, I’ll be doing a unique Instagram special on all the jewelry items I’ve posted on the site. Some of the filters really make my work look like something out of Vanity magazine. Anyway, if you have any questions, comments or concerns or even suggestions on what you’d like me to chat about, let me know, leave a comment on this blog or email me at sako@cicadajewelrydesign.com. I can help you out with all your needs.

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…

A quick round up…

August 23, 2011

What a weekend I had. On Saturday I was  at a wedding that wasn’t Kim Kardashian’s, but had some Armenian involvement. Sunday night involved me driving to LAX to go pickup my brother and bandmates from their European adventures rockin out to a bunch of Swedes at the Malmo Festival. My brother is a mirco-bio major and still has time to tour the world with his band ‘Viza‘. Afterwards, I got home at 3am and hit the sack. I didn’t end up making work the next day but it’s okay since I haven’t had a vacation in almost 4 years. But I did feel guilty for missing work. So I ended up writing a blog to make up for the guilt.

As a quick side note – gold? Forget about it. It hit 1900 for a sec and it closed out below that dreaded 1900 mark. Shocking.

Anyways, Last week I took some photos of some jobs that came in. I received this 18k white gold, antique ring that needed some matching color sapphires supplied and cut into them. The stones needed to be cut in an non-typical style which was no problem. I specialize in precision cutting – I cut stones to the millimeter, usually non-standard cuts.

Here’s a top view shot of this antique ring. The diamond bezel is surrounded with tapered baguette sapphires.

Notice the side of the shank were the sapphires are missing.

You won’t find anything out there that will fit into that area without special, custom cutting.

I supplied and cut 3pcs of tapered sapphires to complete the rounded curvature of the ring.

The sapphires sit perfectly in the open space. Just get yourself an experienced setter that does great milgrain work *ahem* and make sure they don’t break the sapphires or it’s coming back to me – which I wont mind.

For my next job, I got this $1000+ a carat opal in that needed a good polish in order to bring out the beauty it radiates.

My cellphone couldn’t pick up that crazy purple hue this opal was giving.

You can barely see the purple hue on the outer rim of the opal but I promise it’s there. I’ve rarely seen something like this so i figured I had to share it.

Finally, I just wanted to give a little insight into the current Jewelery market and what I’ve been doing to stay relevant.   The recent increase in overseas jewelery production has created a new competitive market which favors big factories and stamps out the smaller guy.  In order to survive in this cutthroat environment you need to have something which can stand against big business. So, I’ve been producing these “Shamballa” bracelets for quite a while now. I make them to order and so far whatever I’ve made, I’ve sold off. Here’s one I’ve made for myself featuring 2 skulls with diamonds set in the forehead region.

I used silver colored rope and onyx beads with a matte finish. I had some 3.5mm burma ruby rounds I wanted to set into the eye sockets of the skull but I think I’m going to go with some 3.5mm black diamond rounds. Still deciding, but you guys can always give me some input on what you think would look better.

I usually wear these when I go out and about. If someone takes a liking to it, I show it off and give them a sales pitch. They usually put in an order or sometimes they even buy it right off my wrist! Talk about covering a bar tab.

Hopefully by Friday I’ll release another blog with this new cut I’ve been working on. Till next time…

Modern ROCKer

June 24, 2011

Busy. This is somewhat of an rare occurrence in the jewelry world during June at times like these. I’ve been busy finishing up some inlay work with some gem cutting and my special orders have picked up as well for me. I’m not complaining nor am I not getting ahead of myself,  just keeping it ‘solid’ – as a UPS security guard named Jay once told me. Work used to show up on my doorstep back when it was real good. Now, you have to chase after it. Times have changed and most of you reading this are being introduced to my blogs via email while I try to generate interest in the work I do. But I digress. This blog entry is an homage to one of the most exclusive Los Angeles jewelry designers I’ve had the privilege to work with. Lena Wald, the Modern Rocker.

Who is Lena Wald? As always, I’m glad you asked. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Like most of us out there, we have a puzzled look on our faces after we graduate asking ourselves, ‘what the hell now?’ Lena always had an interest in the arts so she moved back to LA where she started doing wardrobe styling for commercials, print ads, etc. She later moved into the magazine world working for publications such as L.A. Style and InStyle. Over time, she realized that the magazine industry was not for her. But she always had an interest in fashion and design. So she pursued a job at Richard Tyler (a fashion house in L.A.).

Lena was hired as the assistant to the fabric buyer Lela Rose. After 3 months, Lela Rose left to start her own clothing line and Lena was promoted to fabric buyer. She saw this as a great opportunity to begin making a name for herself. Along the way, she met some of her closest friends at Richard Tyler and made some incredibly good contacts. Her job allowed her to travel to Europe twice a year for fabric shows.

After three years at Richard Tyler, she felt like she gained enough experience to start a jewelry line. (This is where I come in). Lena’s ideas usually begin with something that she wanted to make for herself to fulfill her unique style. She wanted a ring carved out of a solid ruby. The 1st sample she made, came out so well, that she brought the idea to Maxfield (A prominent fashion retailer) and they immediately placed an order. The rings are made from natural stones, such as turquoise, ruby, black onyx and crystal. She was fortunate enough receive press in W magazine, Vogue, Bazaar, Elle, and other famous publications. She began to further expand her line to include necklaces and bracelets. But then she had a completely new idea which spawned from her need to get herself some diamond-initial earrings.

Here’s Lena Wald’s Vogue magazine spread.

People love anything personalized. You name it and you can get it personalized to your liking. The earrings have been very well received by stores and their customers. Even Cameron Diaz wore her ‘C’ and ‘D ‘ earrings to the Oscars.

look who’s ring she’s wearing. This was a screen shot from the movie called “The Sweetest Thing”.

These are the diamond initials and charms from Lena Walds line.

This line has expanded into many different styles of trend setting necklaces and earrings made in yellow, rose, and white gold with a choice of either plain, adorned with diamonds, or set with other precious stones.

Lena’s business has grown significantly over the years and many stores and websites carry her jewelry worldwide.  She has a great following among stylists and many celebrities have been seen wearing Lena’s jewelry including Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Kate Bosworth, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Katie Holmes and according to Lena, her favorite out of the bunch, the first lady, Michelle Obama.

Hope you liked my little introduction to the Modern Rocker herself, Lena Wald. Now on to this onyx I was commissioned to make for Lena. I can’t give you a 100% breakdown and you’ll notice certain steps are missing, but you’ll get a basic idea on the process that goes through making this ‘Cigar Band’ faceted onyx with silver lining.

The silver lining insert is at 7.5 finger size which will sit inside the onyx.

The silver lining surface is made purposely rough so when I glue it into the onyx, it will have a tighter grip to avoid sliding around.

I drilled through some onyx rough and glued the silver insert into the onyx.

The onyx was pre-formed to this perfect round, cylinder shape.

I cut the sides down to 18mm thick from wall to wall

Fast forward through all the cutting and faceting and you get this beauty!

Notice the domed curvature on the onyx.

The inside of the silver lining has a high polish to it.

The onyx walls are flush with the silver lining

I introduce to you, the Cigar band faceted onyx ring with silver lining.

Here’s another one I made a while back.

The turquoise material is called a spider web green turquoise

It’s beautifully cabbed with a gold lining insert with a high polish. Killer stuff!

And my favorite piece. The classic blue turquoise piece with a nice high polished cabochon with a gold lining insert.

I truly enjoy doing work for Lena Wald. If any of you out there that are interested in a signature Lena Wald piece, please feel free to contact Lena Wald direct at info@lenawald.com

Till next time.. (next week as always)