Created in 925 sterling silver with a blue opaline moonstone and a black star saphire
The ring was created as a wedding anniversary gift which could be worn daily by a lady who really loves unusual jewellery. The brief was to design a ring to symbolise their love and how special they feel when they look into each other’s eyes and embrace.
The result was this organic shaped ring which represents their arms wrapped around each other in a tender hug. Her eyes are blue and his dark brown with a real twinkle so the design included a blue opaline moonstone and a black star saphire.
Although moonstones are usually white, in antique jewellery they can be found with a bluer shade. What can be more sustainable than recycling these stunning older stones into modern designs.
The cleints live in New York but thanks to the internet good communication made designing this custom jewellery was as easy as if we lived near each other.
The Design Process
I started the design process by analysing photographs taken when the couple renewed their wedding vows in Central Park in New York. The way they looked into each other’s eyes spoke volumes about their love for each other. The angle of their heads and the gentle way they placed their arms around each other was perfect.
The challenge was to capture this body language of love in a jewellery design.
As well as analysing their photos, I did sketches of couples hugging both from the side, as if I were looking down on them and started to create stylised drawings.
The couple wanted an organic feel to the ring so I turned to nature, and in particular the sea which I find especially inspirational. I developed a mood board which included this brain coral image.
The couple felt it embodied their uniqueness with a strong sense of community. This helped to decide that the design would include chasing, a traditional jewellery technique where metal is shaped and raised into rounded shapes.
I shared design ideas via the internet and refined them after talking ideas through. During this process the design developed to include 2 gemstones to represent each of them. The material choice was simple since the client only wears silver. I use sustainable recycled silver as much as possible. The client also favoured a simple ring shank (section that goes around the finger).
I sent a shortlist of design drawings to the clients to choose from and they selected the close hug design.
The final decision was which gemstones to use. Her eyes are a stunning cornflower blue, while his are dark brown. She mentioned a number of times that he was the star in her life and in the photos his eyes had a twinkle when he looked at his beautiful wife.
I collect antique jewellery and recover the gemstones to recycle in modern designs. I had bought a necklace with blue opaline moonstones and I had successfully recovered a number of the stones.
In my collection I also had some black star saphires which when the light falls on them shine back a 6-point star of light.
I photographed the options and after discussion we all agreed that the final design which worked best included one moonstone and one black star saphire.
The Making Process
I’m afraid these photos are not the best but hopefully good enough to understand the making process.
The first step was to create collets to surround the 2 gemstones. I cut silver ribbon to size and soldered them closed to create a perfect fit around the stones. The height is important. High enough to close around the top of the stone and hold it securely in place. Not so hight that it will obscure the stone.
The shape of the ring’s “hugging arms” was drawn on paper sized to allow for changes in the size once it is turned into a 3D form.
Then I cut the shape out of sterling silver sheet by hand using a piercing saw.
I created the raised shape using a chasing tool and hammer over a sheet of lead. The lead is soft enough to allow the design to be formed but hard enough to support the metal as I slowly worked the flat silver into a raised 3D design.
Once the sheet had been chased I sent the client a photo to ask if they wanted a smoother or more textured finish. The shaping reached a point that the client felt was right for them.
Next I soldered together the 2 collets, the plain ring shank and the chased silver design.
I set the moonstone and star saphire.
Lastly, the ring was polished to a high shine.
The client sent me this photo of her wearing it and says she wears it every day.