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.

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Imitation vs. Inspiration

Roughly a year ago, when I first started to get the idea that I might actually design for a living, I got the opportunity to speak with a renowned designer/jeweler. One of the first things I asked when I got the opportunity to ask him questions was what his inspiration was. I look back on that and laugh because it really was a fangirl type question to ask. He gave me some sort of benign answer about anything inspiring him, and I went on my merry way.

Now, over a year later, and feeling much wiser, I know that it’s a silly question, because I know that anything can inspire you – in fact, you never know what will inspire you until it hits.

Imitation

: the act of copying or imitating someone or something
: something that is made or produced as a copy

And

Inspiration

: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea

In the jewelry world, there is really very little that is a new idea. Everything has been done before. So it’s hard to come up with new and fresh ideas.

It’s not that I don’t take inspiration from other items of jewelry, but it pains me to see an antique ring, and then later see almost an exact copy of the antique, with slightly changed elements. Why would you want to make a copy of someone else’s idea when you can make something completely different and new?

I like to borrow elements from other jewelry all of the time, and I combine them with other elements to create something that is entirely different and hopefully unique. I don’t want something that someone else has! Typically, the original is always the best anyway, so why make a copy? It’s rare that I see a copy and think it’s more beautiful than the original. Especially with antique pieces.

I have one upcoming setting that will be in my jewelry line, and I can think of 5 rings that either inspired me or  I borrowed an element from, to combine those elements into something new that I’d never really seen before. An antique, an Erika Winters design, a Leon Mege design, a David Klass design, and anyone who has ever made a ring with flower petals (which are a lot of designers, let me tell you). I sort of hope that someone digs up an antique version of what I’ve done because, in a way, it sort of validates that I had a good idea.

Here is a design I’ve been playing with for a while with some spinels for a North/South orientation. I doubt this will come to fruition, but it’s still fun to play with! Thanks to Lorraine Schwartz for the idea to try something that stretches along the finger length!

Ring 1, Ring 2, Ring 3 (there are more, but you get the idea!)

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Update: My jewelry line

I’ve been working on sketches for quite a while on items for my new line. Of course, this is not the easiest thing since there are so many amazing designs out there, and it’s hard to be innovative when it feels like everything has been done. Some of these are influenced by the custom projects I’m working on with people, and some are just things that I would like to see or wear myself.

Sometimes the stones “speak” to me, and I have to do what they say. Ok, not really, but that’s sort of how it feels sometimes when I’ve had a stone for a long time without any inspiration and suddenly one day I look at the stone and it’s a total Eureka moment. And then I’m scrambling for my sketchbook, which is why I have four located in random areas of my house and one that goes with me in my purse. You never know when inspiration will hit!

Because this is more of a hobby instead of a full time career (for the moment!) I typically wait until the designs find me, rather than trying to wrangle them out of hiding.

Now, having said that, sometimes I will just sit down with a sketchbook and draw whatever comes to mind. Sometimes, that thing ends up being a sketch of my ear. Hah!

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on a green garnet mini-parure of sorts, and that has been extremely challenging because of the complexities of the project and using several hundred (not joking!) green garnets and turning them into a cohesive necklace, earring and bracelet set. But it has been great for me because I’ll be thinking about that project, and several ideas that won’t work for the garnets will work for something in my line that I haven’t been able to nail down.

Luckily there are several similarities between the green garnet project, the custom rings project (there are many rings and I’m in the process of trying to build a cohesive collection rather than a gathering of multiple different rings) and where I’d like to go on a few of my pieces for the line.

As of right now I’d like to come up with the following items, and I’m already several in:
1. 3 solitaire type rings
2. 1 halo ring
3. 1 dinner/multi-stone type ring
4. 2 necklaces
5. 1 earring
6. 2 bands

Gosh, writing up that list makes me realize just how much work I have to do! Back to the grind!

In the meantime though, here are a couple pictures of a yellow diamond I’m trying to decide what to do with. Right now I’m leaning towards a milgrain bezel in brushed yellow gold and keeping it for myself!

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It reminds me of lemonade!

Design: Breast Cancer Ring

I am certainly not the first person to make a pink ribbon ring, nor will I be the last. But here is a ring that I designed around breast cancer. I originally saw one that was in rose gold and had diamonds, but it was kind of fussy and I wanted something more streamlined. Here are my very simple drawings for it.

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And here is the finished product. I originally wanted the ribbon to be smaller, but because of melee size, and the practicality of how the ribbon curves, it was easier to go a little bit bigger. The ribbon is about 7mm from top to bottom. Rose gold and pink sapphires.

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My mother passed away from breast cancer in 2008, on her and my father’s 32nd wedding anniversary. I wanted a ring to help memorialize her in a visible but subtle way, and keep her close to me. Someday I plan to have a larger ribbon made for a necklace as well.