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…

Back on March 17, 2011, I posted a blog regarding a Kashmir Sapphire I received for polishing (read it if you haven’t). I just wanted to do an update on the high-end gemstone. I felt like I didn’t give it the love and attention that it deserved. Kashmir Sapphires were first mined a 100 years ago in the Padar region of Kashmir which lies mainly in a valley between India and Pakistan. A region of great natural beauty, Kashmir was a luxurious state in the 19th century.

It became a disputed territory after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, when it joined India rather than Pakistan (sounds like something out of a playground incident with a bunch of kids, just saying). The dispute continues to this day, with parts of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan. It’s also abundant with Muslim guerrilla activity which further increases the turmoil. Bidding has opened for mining purposes and hopefully, this gemstone gets it’s time in the limelight because once you’ve seen this baby, I guarantee you’d fall into it’s spell just by the vibrant colors it gives off. I think I gave the Kashmir Sapphire the justice it deserves.

Tax time means jobs sit in my estimate box. Every year, around this time, the month of April becomes a period that drags you down from the consistent flow of work you gathered from the holidays. Your mind starts to wander into an abyss of negative thinking when you thought this industry was picking up from this God awful recession. My father told me that this generation of jewelers isn’t as lucky as his. He enjoyed his late 20’s well into his 30’s. He partied it up like no ones business and his business was growing at a staggering rate and forcing him to expand to keep up with the demand of the service we offer. I never thought, at 27 years of age, I’d be finding ways to occupy my down time teaching myself how to cook Italian cuisines (trying to master the risotto) and budgeting my daily spending  just to get by when I should be building a foundation for my future little family I’d like to start one day. Weird how things work out. Hard work leads to a positive outcome? Hope so… What a ‘Debbie downer’ that little segment was. I do apologize for that. So yeah, the point is, tax time equals to more jobs on hold.

My risotto with shrimp drizzled with a little olive oil and some smoked paprika

I get a call from a customer around 10pm the other night telling me that his polisher broke his customers stone set in the ring. It’s an 11 carat spessartite  garnet, while steaming it. He needs a matching replacement. If you guys didn’t read my last blog on that Tanzanite piece I wrote about, read it. Extreme temperature changes can cause severe damage to your stone and to your wallet. A spessartite garnet of that size runs about 900-1000 per carat. The stone comes from Tanzania (like the Tanzanite) and its color shades are orange to reddish orange to red.  I’ll try to take a few photos of it and blog about it next week.

Till next time…

just another day…

March 17, 2011

Greeting! This blog is brought to you live, from my office as my laptop’s cooling fan sounds like it’s about to die! On a sad note, I’d like to send out my prayers to the people of Japan and wish them well. Watching these videos that just keep popping up and the destruction and devastation that mother nature unleashed on Japan just brings a sense of humility on to me. Just counting my lucky stars…

Let’s see, I support an English footballing club (soccer) called Manchester United and over the past two weeks, I’ve seen my team get their asses handed to them by the refs (Chelsea game), by Liverpool and hand Arsenal their 3rd cup exit in two weeks. If you’re not a fan, become one. This sport is filled with the drama that drives us humans.

I was downstairs, next to the lobby of my building a few weeks ago on the phone, chit chatting away when I noticed seven, 7 footers walking towards me, all African-American, blinged out and looking like defensive linemen. In the middle of all this, was one of my Jeweler Buddies who designs huge, ‘iced-out’ pieces for rappers, athlete’s, etc.. and walking next to him was Floyd Mayweather Jr. I don’t get all giddy when I see or run into celebs but on this occasion, I did. The only thing I could come up with to say to Floyd, as he walked by was, ‘what’s up with the Pacquiao fight?’ This is how original I felt at that moment. #lame???

So I get this 5 carat beauty of a stone into my office the other day that you don’t really see too much of anymore do to the rarity of the stone. Kashmir Sapphire. The Kashmiri mines stopped producing the sapphires over a 100 years ago.. make a long story short, ‘Extreme geographical conditions and lack of resources have hampered the commercial exploitation of the natural reserve..’ But, I was reading an article saying that the mines could reopen and the Kashmir Sapphire could be making its long await comeback to the international markets. Don’t we all love comeback stories?? Here’s the article http://www.nationaljeweler.com/nj/colored-stones/color-market-reports/article_detail?id=25944. I was asked just to polish the top of the Kashmir Sapphire and nothing else. The girdle of the stone was chipped away and I was told to leave it because it was being set back into a bezel mounting. The customer was looking for minimal weight loss because this particular Sapphire was about 15k plus per carat at least, so do the math. Enjoy the images brought to you by my HTC Evo’s 8 megapixel camera with a little cropping via Adobe Photoshop.  Here’s another cool article on the Kashmir Sapphire. http://www.gemselect.com/other-info/kashmir-sapphire.php.

I get a call the other day from one of my customers asking me if it’s ok to have a field trip set up at my office/workshop for a bunch of first year college students. I of course said ‘yes’ and why not introduce a bunch of young adults like myself to a trade that isn’t your typical trade? As soon as the field trip happens, I’ll be posting photos and videos of the experience on my site and blog so stay tuned to that. Should be fun!

Next week, I’ll be talking about how NOT to break a Tanzanite while finishing up your jewelry piece.

Till next time… Happy Saint Patty’s day! Get your green beers in and cheers!