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!

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)

Star fish conundrum

September 15, 2010

Hello bloggers out there! Welcome to my first ever blog! I’d like to start off by saying, bare with me, the information will only improve as the blogs keep rolling in.

As promised, I received a very custom style job that needed a matching style, star cut, cabochoned on top with each star groove on the pavillion to be cabochon as well so when you look at it from the top, you’ll get this star outline look as well (it’s hard to explain until you see some of the photos which is laid out over this blog).

The customer wanted me to supply and cut synthetic ruby matching the sample. I grabbed a small piece of synthetic ruby rough that matched the color they were looking for. I had the broken sample to go by as a helping hand so life would be easier on me. I got a piece of non transparent tape, stuck it on top of the white gold ring and I started to shave out the outline of the star with a small file in order to get the correct size of the synthetic ruby. I get on my lap machine and I start to shape this piece of rough until I get close enough to the outlined area of the tape. I quickly moved to my bench and started to use my various drill bits to get that angled groove that the sample has.

After countless hours of getting it as close as possible to a point where I have to start using my cabochon machine to get that flush, slightly domed look I’ve been aiming for with a transparent view from top. I’ve decided to take a break from this job for a day or so and work on pending work to meet deadlines. I hope you’ve been enjoy some pictures of how I’ve started this job and where I stand so far.

It has been quite the journey with this job. The stress levels go through the roof with technical and labor intensive work. You ask why? If I break it, all that hard work, time and effort I put into it goes to waste and the second piece starts to come out of your pocket. So the pressure is on to finish this job with no problems. Here’s a bit of synthetic ruby fact: first synthetic rubies were created by fusing potash alum at a high temperature with a little chromium as a pigment back in the late 1830’s by some guy named Gaudin.. (that was for all you statistical and history buffs out there!)

It’s been a few days since I’ve touched this job but I’ve decided to pick up where I started with it. I started with the top of this synthetic ruby and I started to add that diamond powder to that lap wheel to give it that shine and you start to see it open up. Translucent is what we are aiming for. The stone itself is pretty opex in rough form, but what I’ve done is open a window on top of the table and the translucent look is starting to come to life. So far so good. Now, I need to add a slight dome. How to accomplish this? With both thumbs and index fingers, slightly rock the stone back and forth. You need a bit a rhythm to accomplish such moves. I suggest you pick an instrument or a metronome and see if you can keep that ‘four four’ time signature beat going. This also requires a bit of feel as well in order to get into that groove. Plus, you need to be a pretty ‘hands on’ guy. Anyway, I grabbed my ring, and I let the synthetic ruby just sit in the star shaped mounting. I gave it a sideway glance and you can see it slightly domed, buffed and polished. The window I opened looks good. All I need to do now is to open ten widows that lead all to one point. Sounds a bit easy? Think of it as if I’m doing surgery on a starfish and I need to be as delicate while opening windows on each side to complete this job. I change out the wheel on the lap machine, going for a rounded disk wheel, leaving me with the difficult task of trying to open up the cleavage area of each side of the bottom of this synthetic ruby. I go with my drills, change out the drill bits, mickey mouse a certain drill bit with some polishing cloth and the windows just opened up. I’ve left out technical details so I can still remain the ‘go-to’ guy here for all gem cutting and inlay lapidary needs. Enjoy the photos and hopefully I explained myself pretty well. Until next time!