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…

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”.