The Hermit from the Pacific Northwest

When we moved from California, we really had no idea what we were getting into. The first months after moving to Washington included massive wildfires, a broken limb, hitting two deer in quick succession, and plenty of other trials and tribulations.

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Don’t worry, I was stopped. 

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Roses at the Post Office. 

But it also included incredible sunsets the colors of padparascha sapphires and Vietnamese spinels, fields of yellow gold wheat as far as the eye could see in the fall, fields of brilliant green springtime wheat, and then the sparkly white of a frozen snow-covered tundra.

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I don’t miss the call of California. I don’t miss the palm trees (they are so much work!), the swimming pools.  I don’t miss the heat. I don’t miss the traffic. I don’t miss the helicopters hovering overhead nightly. And shockingly I don’t miss the high heels or the fashion or the shopping.

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I love digging my hands in the dirt and growing my own produce. I love that when I drive five minutes in one direction and I’m surrounded by empty space. I love going to the Post Office where everyone knows my name. I love the stillness of the air right after it snows. I love the wide blue skies. I love the rolling hills. I love the pine trees. And again, I love those sunsets.

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I realize that the major jewelry centers are in New York and Los Angeles. Maybe some day I will move back to a big city, and be happy to be among the bustle and the glamour, but for now I’m delighted to spend my time alone with my dogs and my family, breathing in the clean air and enjoying all four seasons, and living more simply than I did before.

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Besides, living here means more opportunity to travel to big cities!

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The Aurore Setting Design Process

The Aurore is special to me in a lot of ways, but especially because it was designed specifically for a stone that I had loved for a long time, but it’s many issues prevented me from setting it.

By now, I think that if you have taken a look at my designs, you’ve noticed that diamonds are almost always accent stones. That’s not to say that I won’t set a diamond, but I put a lot of special consideration into making jewelry with colored stones.

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Colored stones have their own potential problems when it comes to producing a setting for them. For instance, colored stones are typically cut with two things in mind: color and size/weight retention, which come with their own host of issues, typically windows (an area that doesn’t reflect light), which is what the Aurore was specifically designed around.

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Naked sapphire.

I designed the Aurore setting around a padparadscha sapphire I have had for a while, but could never figure out how to set. The stone has a big window in the middle of it due to insufficient depth. Diamonds don’t typically have that problem, it’s a uniquely colored stone issue. The stone has an amazing color, though, and obviously the best was made of the material by the cutter. It also has some inclusions in it, which give it more of a glow and less of a sparkly bomb.

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My solutions to the various problems presented in this particular stone was to start from the bottom and work my way up. The Aurore has a lotus design on the bottom, inspired by the very color of the sapphire, giving the basket some decent coverage, which would help close up that window and let the stone shine.

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Early sketch ideas.

But I didn’t want to just stop there – I had a parcel of marquis diamonds, what if I set those inside the lotus petals on the basket. Then, light hitting the pavilions of the diamonds would potentially reflect light up through the stone!

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Taken a very long time ago!

I would want the lotus petal design to be seen, and the diamonds would of course need lots of light to have that function properly. So a traditional fully round shank was out. Which meant it was time to think outside the box, and the partly open shank, that isn’t a complete circle. And now, we can see the full view of the lotus and diamonds.

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So I then turned my attention to the top of the ring. The stone only measures 5×7, so, I decided that it needed a little bit of help in the size area. Well, since the stone is windowed and not super sparkly, a traditional diamond halo ran the very real risk of outshining the center stone, instead of fully enhancing it. I saw Erika Winters’ Thea halo, and thought, “Hey, why can’t it be all metal? No reason to include diamonds.” And again, taking inspiration from Erika’s Thea halo, and due to the smaller amount of sparkle from the center, decided against high polish, and went with a matte finish.

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But a plain metal halo would be boring – so since I had become vehemently against putting the sapphire against diamonds, that meant metal detail. I got the inspiration for the shapes from an antique diamond and emerald ring. The shapes are different, but the idea for the layout is similar.

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All in all, I was so satisfied with the first version of the ring, I decided to go to the opposite side of the color spectrum and do a white metal version.

In doing a second prototype, the gray spinel’s window was much smaller, so I decided to forgo the diamonds on the gallery. But instead of keeping the entire thing with a matte finish, I decided to have my bench put a high polish on the metal halo’s details. Which really lends a beautiful effect and mimics the sparkle of the silvery spinel even more wonderfully than I could have imagined.

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Keeping the white gold with a matte finish was a bit of a gamble, because I wasn’t sure what kind of effect it would have due to it’s gray color, but looking back, it wasn’t something I should have worried about – as a whole, the silvery gray spinel appears even more sparkly surrounded by the contrast of the matte and high polished metal.

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All in all, the Aurore is a setting I’m proud of. There is something very fulfilling about creating something to solve problems, no matter how small, and further enhancing the beauty of what is already there.

The Aurore is available for order directly through me, or through David Klass in Los Angeles.

The Debut of Voeu

Ok, so I’ve been dropping hints all over the place for months about this project I’ve been working on. I have a good friend who is also a gemstone collector, and she had the good sense to ask me to design some ring settings for her. This is a friend that I’ve known for a very long time, and we talk every day, so I know her taste exceptionally well. I have actually used her as inspiration for designs before (for instance, an upcoming prototype in my ring collection), and probably will again since our tastes are so different, she makes me think outside my normal design box.

One of her stones that she wanted to set ASAP was a gorgeous mostly pink, some peach pad sapphire. But being rather small, she didn’t just want to halo it. She has a love affair with leaf shapes, and loves to have as much sparkle and finger coverage as possible. With a 7.5×5.5 stone, we had a task in front of us, even though her finger size is a relatively small size 5.

The stone was originally purchased through Wink Jones of WinkCZ and High Performance Diamonds at JCK 2014.

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A truly horrible picture of a gorgeous stone. 

This ring was originally supposed to be in yellow gold, and has gone through quite the journey to get us to where we are now, which is a completely different place from where we started. The original intended design for it is an upcoming setting from my collection, and this was intended to be the prototype for it, but for various reasons, the whole project did not work out.

So we started over, basically from scratch, putting the whole thing on hold for a while and regrouping.

Here is the resulting sketch, and as you’ll see, the setting ended up deviating quite a bit from the original, through the CAD process and constant re-evaluation.

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I really need to start drawing facets on all of my sketches. Makes the whole thing look more complete. 

The stone involved is a 7.5×5.5 padparadascha sapphire, leaning more pink than peach, but definitely containing that peach component. The above picture was taken on my brief trip to DTLA to visit with my bench and discuss upcoming projects, and scope out what they have going on (a lot!).

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I also took some pictures of the wax, promptly before destroying it. For the record, it was destined for destruction anyway!

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So once the wax was done, it came down to what metals to use. As I mentioned above, the original intent was to use yellow gold as the primary metal color. As the project wore on, we weighed the options and decided to go with white gold for most of the ring, to really enhance the diamonds and bring out their shapes and the shapes in the metal, and still allowing the stone to stand out.

My client and I also discussed what color to make the prongs. After being torn for a week, I offered to make the decision for her, so she didn’t have to worry about it anymore. This topic was the inspiration for an earlier blog post, Metal Color and Flow. As a result of considering all of the options (really, with this stone, there were no bad options) and decided that I wanted to allow the rose gold to flow in with the stone, and felt that the yellow gold might be too much of a distraction from the stone and the setting itself – both of which were unwanted.

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One thing I really wanted to concentrate on was keeping the look as dainty as possible, and preventing anything from detracting from what was going on with the delicate color of the stone. I chose to make it a knife edge for this reason – and luckily, the shank almost disappears because it’s too busy reflecting skin!

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And as a surprise for my client, I had my bench put in a surprise stone on the gallery of the ring. I absolutely love galleries on stones, they are one of my favorite parts of any ring, and you can guarantee that I have put thought into any ring gallery that I design. I should also mention that it was also a surprise to her that the gallery was done in rose gold. I hadn’t informed her of that until she saw the finished images.

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The end result is a graceful setting that seems to float on the wearer’s finger, lending a flattering elongated silhouette and enhancing the size of the gem.

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She and I chose the name “Voeu” for this particular setting. Voeu in French means “vow” “desire” and “wish”, and was inspired by the slightly star shaped outline. She woke up the morning it was to be delivered and thought “make a wish”. Being a romantic at heart, the term rang true for such a lovely feminine ring.

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Thank you m’dear for allowing me to create this incredible ring for you! I hope that you love it for many years to come! (I can’t wait for the next one!)