Fresh Water Elephant

March 5, 2014

Broken record? You have no idea! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about something but there is a reason behind the dormant state of my blog. To sum it up in a jiff, I’ve been planning a new website for my business and I wanted to incorporate my blog with my new website. Something modern but to the point while showcasing what my company does – providing service for that niche jewelry market that I’m in. I look at this blog post as a precursor letting everyone who stumbles upon it that a few changes for the better are coming in the very near future.

Anyway.

Fresh Water Elephant? What the heck does that mean? I’m glad you asked. It’s a great topic starter for this blog involving some freshwater pearls that I’ve obtained. I don’t consider myself an artist, but for the sake of this particular blog, let’s just say that I am (even though I’ve been caught doodling and animating over the years). When you have this free-form freshwater pearl looking right at you, begging for someone to create something with it, you start to let your imagination wonder a bit. What does this pearl look like? What can I build around this pearl? You start sketching around it. You start Googling different variations of things. Okay, lets go animal kingdom with this odd looking pearl. You start to Google more images. A bird? A frog? An elephant? (as an aside I have done some stuff I’ve done with free-form pearls so keep a look out in the near future when my new website is launched.) So, I went with an elephant. Now we’ve got ourselves an elephant to design around this pearl. What part of the elephant? I know, let’s go and use the pearl as the head, legs and upper torso and I’ll build around that. I can’t CAD the around the elephant. It won’t be possible due to all the natural curves the CAD program won’t capture. So let’s do hand-carved wax. Keep it old school with this elephant. So I wax carved it by hand.

Elephant pearl Wax carving (1) Elephant pearl Wax carving (2)

Elephant pearl Wax carving (3)

Not bad, right? So I wax carved the trunk, the ears, the feet and the tiny, cute, little tail for this tiny elephant. I also decided to give it a traditional cap so I can set some diamonds on top to make it a classy looking elephant. That section between the feet, I didn’t want to leave it empty so I added some sort of grass like bush to authenticate it with its typical surroundings. Now it’s time to carefully remove the wax off of the pearl and send it into casting. I was thinking 18 karat, yellow gold should do the trick.

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (5)

Pretty cool I might add. This little guy, who’s a little larger than a quarter, is coming out great!

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (6)

That little section which I like to call it’s baseball cap, we pave set some beautiful white diamonds and right underneath it, we bezel set a nice blue sapphire. It looks like a classier circus elephant. If you notice, I’ve marked with a sharpie a black mark with where I’m going to be drilling a tiny hole to give this elephant some sight.

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (1)

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (2)

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (3)

So for the eyes, I cut a tiny ruby cabachon to accent the yellow, white, and blue undertones. I slightly oxidized the little holes and outer lines on the ears and feet to give it a little more depth in color contrast. I also added a hand made bail/jump ring for the chain to run through it.

Elephant Such a killer looking piece. It’s original, it’s mother natures giant beast at it’s best. So why not showcase this little guy with his friends, haha. It may look tacky to some but this pro shot of this elephant is awesome to me. Enjoy the details of this finished 18 karat, free-form freshwater pearl, dressed up as an elephant. I call these sort of pieces, ‘one-of-a-kind’ collector items.

Keep a look out for my brand new website and a more consistent flow of blogs. Cheers!

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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink1

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

TriangleOrangeCufflink2

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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink3

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

TriangleOrangeCufflink4

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

TriangleOrangeCufflink5

TriangleOrangeCufflink6

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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink7

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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink8

TriangleOrangeCufflink9

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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink10

TriangleOrangeCufflink11

‘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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink12

TriangleOrangeCufflink13

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.

TriangleOrangeCufflink14

TriangleOrangeCufflink15

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

TriangleOrangeCufflink16

TriangleOrangeCufflink17

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…

35 gram Emperor

November 13, 2012

Here are back to back blogs just to make up for the silent treatment I’ve been giving you guys. My Instagram blog was just to promote myself on the photo sharing application. Self plugs on my own blog is always acceptable. Anyway, this blog is a good one. I’m going to share my experience making this custom men’s ring that I made from scratch.

I get an email from one of my customers saying they need a size 11 men’s ring, custom made. So we get to talking and I ask for some ideas he had in mind. He first sent me an image of this Lapis rough that he’s had in his possession for many years.

He wanted me to build a ring around this piece of rough. I asked him to send me some ideas he had in mind for the ring. He starts to send me some images and I started to get an idea of what he wanted. Most of his images that I received looked like this ring was supposed to be heavy. I received some more images of some filigree style designs you’d find on antique picture frames. So, in my head, I was like ‘Ok, this seems like a project that I’m going to enjoy’.

Jobs like this are fun because it’s on the jeweler to design freely without sacrificing the attention to detail that certain projects, like this particular ring requires. So I pull out my piece of paper and dust off the art supplies and I start to design. A little back story on how I became a so called ‘artist’. When I was a kid, my mother used to drag me to work whenever I was off from school and in order to keep myself busy, I’d animate. I was heavily involved with comics and that inspired me to duplicate drawings of Spiderman and classic characters like that. Anyway, so this is what I originally came up with as a draft for this ring.

Here’s some close up shots of the ring. I gave my client a birds eye view and a 3D view of how the ring would look like.

He loved it for the most part but he wanted to remove some filigree twirls and add some sort of pattern on each corner of the ring. He also wanted the filigree to act like a setting and just sit on the stone. So I started to design an altered version of my original sketch.

Like I said, a rough sketch. He loved the little winged sections on each corner and how I incorporated each little section to act like a ‘prong’ or a bezel so this stone could sit nice and tight.

After he approved it, I started the process of bringing this piece to life. So I started the CAD process. ‘CAD’ stands for ‘computer-aided design’. This style of designing a wax with the aid of a computer came into the business about 10 years ago. It’s more accurate and spot on with the angles. Anyone can CAD but some people that CAD, don’t really understand the jewelry side to things. You need to know why the section needs to be there versus just drawing something. You need to understand the math behind it before getting into the CAD business.

It’s such a trip seeing your drawing come together like this, in CAD form. I went with a woven look to give some life to the shank. The customer loved my idea since I started incorporating it into my sketches.

My customer loved the CAD and approved it. So my next step is to send this CAD file to the wax printing machine. These machines will grow the wax from the ground up. It  lays down the foundation and starts to grow your file, layer by layer. This ring took about 23 hours to grow.

So you got the bezel with all the filigree work on the left, the gallery in the middle, and the ring itself, on the right, all ready to be casted.

I made the bezel separate in order to fit the large Lapis, that I’m going cut, into the ring without damaging the stone itself. The stone has a few natural inclusions (cracks). It’s not recommended to set into a bezel setting when you are dealing with a fragile stone.

I showed the customer the wax that I grew, just to get him excited before I sent it to casting.  He loved it and gave me the ‘OK’ to cast it in 18 karat, yellow gold.

The casting came out beautiful. But before I do any work on this, I’ll need to cut that Lapis rough into a cushion cut with a high dome and a checkboard cut.

I started the process of shaping the Lapis into the Bezel.

This is the final, ‘attention to detail’ portion where I’m getting the stone down to the millimeter in order to have it fit perfectly into the bezel.

After sizing the stone into a cushion cut and shaping the domed section, I started to process of adding facets to the Lapis. This is the finished look that I had envisioned in my head when I first thought about how the stone would look like on this ring.

After doing some gold work and adding the polish and finish to this ring, I was impressed how this 35 gram, 18 karat monster of a ring, came out. It sort of looks like a ring that would of belonged to an Emperor or some sort of royalty. The woven design on the shank adds flavor to the big filigree work on the bezel. This was a fun project I must say. The customer was pleased with the results and he almost cried when he saw it. It brings joy to my heart, knowing that work like this is still appreciated.

If you have any custom ideas that you’d like to bring to life, email me at Sako@cicadajewelrydesign.com but other then that, till next time…

InstaGem

November 12, 2012

The age of social media has changed the landscape of how to get your product or service noticed. MySpace was great at first, but just took a dive after users had to deal with spam and junk. Eventually this pushed everyone to Facebook. Facebook was amazing at first and still is to a certain degree but I honestly haven’t been able to use it to get my work as a gem cutter or inlay lapidarist appreciated. So I started to blog my work and write about it, explaining the different processes of how much work is put into certain projects I deal with. I recount experiences with jobs form the labor to the end product. Sometimes I will even throw in a little background explanation on certain stones. I’ve got just enough info not to bore you to sleep.

Then Instagram came into play. If you don’t know by now, it’s an application, which can only be accessed through your iPhone and Android devices. You take photos of your journey through life and share it with the rest of your friends. You get to see their pictures your friends put up as well. If you like the image, you double tap to like it and or leave a comment. So I started using Instagram to promote my business and it honestly works. It cuts through the bs that facebook creates on your wall. It’s honestly one of the best tools to promote yourself because it delivers quick, visual content to those who are interested.

So this is me paying homage to a great social media application. I’m sharing some of the photos I’ve taken using this wonderful app called Instagram.

Emerald cut Aquamarine, Santa Maria color. This was one of my first ever images I upload on Instagram.

Downtown, Los Angeles. This is where I call home from 9-5, Monday through Friday. It’s always sunny and nice in southern California, for those who think it’s a myth.

This piece was an intricate job that I had fun working on. Cutting a half cylinder black jade with grooves so the chains can sit in each channel.

This is how your diamonds are cut. It’s a diamond cutters little mecca where that giant disk creates that shine all you boys and girls love.

Made a matching duplicate ring where I’ll be supplying and cutting some taper baguette cut sapphires that go around the cushion cut diamond.

The ring is the same as the one in the above image, but with the sapphires almost set completely, and minus the bezel set cushion cut sapphire. It’s a step by step process when dealing with jobs like this. You have to cut a few sapphire pieces, have your setter set them, and proceed to the next few pieces.

… and the cushion cut diamond is set into its bezel.

Typical Hollywood right in this picture. Filming a pilot for a reality tv show. My pops in blue trying to be the next reality tv star.

Butterfly shaped onyx pieces ranging in various sizes.

Attention to detail. Doing a high polish on a piece.

With all this jewelry stuff, I do find time to have some fun on the grill. Instagram makes everything look so serious with their various filters.

This was a step by step process of repairing the channel walls and repairing all the emeralds. There was no need for a filter here. Just wanted to show how I incorporate gem cutting with jewelry repair work.

And finally, saving the best for last. This emerald cut Emerald needed a high polish, oiling, and setting in this custom made ring.

I could share more images but I picked a few out of the bunch. If you like what you see and would like to follow me click on the link here.

Look out for the next blog I’m simultaneously releasing with this one called, “35 gram Emperor”.

Till next time…

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…

Keepin’ Busy

July 10, 2012

This is by far the biggest lag I’ve had between blogs. I promise to put them out more regularly. Hope you all had a good and safe 4th of July everyone. I’m just going to start this edition of my blog with some of the stuff I’ve been fiddling with in my shop. So let’s get straight to it then, shall we? So I’ve been cutting some onyx into these earrings for a designer that I shouldn’t really mention on my blog (the photo is my only hint to who it is.).

The onyx sits into the channel with a slight angle. In order for the onyx to sit into the slot, I was forced to slide it in from the side rather from the top – the normal side when it comes to inlay lapidary . Once the onyx sits into the channel, I start the process of lapping the onyx flush with the piece.

So I got this yellow gold ring that needed some a new enamel applied to the side of the shank. For those who aren’t familiar with enameling, it’s the process of heating powdered glass at temperatures between 1300 to 1500 fahrenheit, which causes the powder to melt, flow, and harden. Color is added with various minerals in the mixing process. I’ll get into more enameling talk some other time.

So basically we need to remove all the old enamel and re-enamel the middle area of this ring with the same colors to match the original colors that were put into this ring.

The red enamel with the blue dotted area showing the detail of the work and the whites in the hands was just half the work that was needed. My customer needed blue enamel filled where the writing wraps around the top of the ring.

The ring came out great and the enamel gives it that pop which brings out all the details that are on top of this ring. Apparently, this is ring has some religious undertones, which seem pretty interesting.

So this customer wanted me to cut some onyx and inlay it into the white gold frame with a dome cut and then add facets on top. (Yes, it’s shaped like a bear). The white tape on top of the onyx is my guide to make life easier until I get my hand tool and put the details into inlaying this onyx shaped bear to fit into the white gold piece.

I received this white gold diamond ring with onyx inlaid around six pieces of princess cut diamonds. This is tough to do and you’re bound to break a few of the onyx pieces when you attempt to inlay it into the ring. On the bottom of this picture, there is the old onyx that was inlaid previously by me about 10 years ago maybe? I’m impressed this ring lasted this long. These are actually old ‘Simon G’ rings that I used to inlay back in the day so It was a surprise to see it come in for repair from a different customer 8-10 years later.

This stunner of a ring with a gorgeous antique look I’ve been working on needs elongated sapphires that I need to cut into each side of the shanks to be set. Should be fun and I’ll keep you posted on that one.

This is my little tray of stuff that’s in process. There is a heart shape pendant that I’ve cut two pieces of crystals with loose diamond bezels that sit in the middle, between the crystals for the pendant. There’s some inlaid rings that need to be lapped flush with a high polish finish. A Black star sapphire that needs a nice polish to get that star shining in the middle. And an emerald and diamond ring that I’ve been working on. I rebuilt the channel holding the emeralds and supplied new emeralds and set them in. I’ll blog about that soon.

This octagon shaped emerald cut emerald is a thing of beauty.

It’s about 11 carats in weight and my customer wanted me to polish the table and crown facets of this emerald. After I polish it, I was asked to oil the emerald to bring out that Colombian color that makes it such an expensive stone to own.

I used some flash in this image to bring out the color on this emerald. An olive green color that collectors go after. If you guys have any questions regarding the jewelry world or the gem cutting and inlay lapidary world, feel free to ask away. This blog is meant to give you a better understanding on the jewelry and gem world and the man hours that are put into works like these. I try to simplify things and avoid sounding like a robot. I want your reading experience to be organic and have you, the reader, know there’s someone real behind these words. Till next time…

At a snail’s pace… Onyx

February 28, 2012

At a snail’s pace is more like it. Fits well with the title of this blog. I’m horrible at keeping this thing updated. Have no fear, I’ve got a belter of a blog for you. Before I begin, can I just say that I’m still fuming with the Grammys. What a shocking award show. The only reason it got ratings is because Whitney Houston passed away the night before. Nicky Minaj, what the hell was that??? Horrible, horrible, horrible. Sorry, I consider myself some sort of musician and that was an insult to struggling musicians out there.

To the blog we go! So I got this crazy looking yellow gold onyx ring that needed a matching section supplied and cut.

The middle channel of the ring is set with a bunch of diamonds .

I don’t know if your imagination is as vivid as mine but the onyx looks like a snails shell, no?

There it is. The missing section where I’d need to cut a piece of onyx. Here’s the thing. Onyx is moderately priced but the time and labor is what you’re really paying for to have this piece look brand new again. If you’re still confused, continue reading and you’ll see the process, step by step on how it’s comes into fruition.

If you notice the original loose, broken piece of onyx that used to be in the empty section of the ring. I need to match that broken piece.

This is my favorite picture and angle. Look how the wall curves in and the foundation of where the onyx should sit curves. That’s  where some of that labor goes because I have to manually shape it with my hand tool. If you keep reading and scroll down, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

So I eventually got my piece of onyx rough and I started to grind away on it.

It’s a trial and error process (Though I try to avoid the ‘error’ part). That piece of white tape I crazy glued to the onyx is my guide for me when to stop grinding away without starting all over again with another piece of rough.

The wheels spins so fast that anything you put against it will cause friction and that’s not good when dealing with gemstones. So it needs a water pump to deliver water onto the spinning disk to kill any heat when a piece of gemstone comes into contact. Hence the water, in case you were wondering.

Once I’m done with my grinding session, I take the stone to my bench for detailed work so I can get it to sit properly in the ring. I have my hand tool here with a special diamond grit drill bit to give me that curvature I’m looking for.

The drill bit has a sort of cone shape to it. Each section of the bit has a different purpose when using this kind of shaped bit.

Hey look, it’s starting to fit.

I used flash so you can see the wave like shape I need to create so it hugs the wall of this ring.

And it fits nice and tight. Here comes the fun part.

So I went back to my lap diamond grit disk and shaved it down to a close matching shape before I can get to use my hand tool to start carving out the swirlly snail shell shape.

Honestly, nothing scientific here. I used a pencil to map out the exact match of how I needed to cut into this piece of onyx.

Another favorite angle of mine that helps me explain the process. It shows the different layers and rounded curves I cut into the onyx for that match I’m looking for.

Pretty damn close, no? It’s a match alright. Now to manually lap and shape the onyx with my hand tool and then switch to a polishing cloth bit to give it that matching high polish look.

Done. This job took about 8 hours to complete. Time and labor. Just talk to your mechanic if you don’t believe me. The customer loved it, it turned out great, and I’m thrilled I got to share this little project of mine with guys. Till next time…

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…

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…