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…

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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”.