Because memories are valuable, and heirlooms help us keep our memories and transfer the stories to the next generations, I am honored to assist families with transferring their heirloom jewelry into the contemporary world. We are able to preserve the memories and enjoy a contemporary aesthetic at the same time.
Clients often come to me with a handful of “old jewelry.” These pieces have been passed through generations, and while they have merit and value based on from where they have come, they often are in disrepair or are of a style that is not compatible with the current owner. Sometimes the client’s wishes are to simply restore the jewelry’s condition or perhaps make slight changes. Other times, the client works with me to harvest stones and then design a new piece around these stones that is contemporary but also commemorates the client’s personal story.
renaissance – (ren-ais-sance) \noun \ A revival of or renewed interest in something.
After talking with the client about their wishes, the design process begins. Often I enjoy hearing the client’s memories or stories associated with the historical jewelry. These vignettes often inform the design process as we seek together to honor the story. I will also consider the client’s style, even sometimes inquiring about the style of their furniture or their favorite foods. I take time then to sketch, alone, to attempt to capture all this information in the design, of course within the context of “form follows function.” First rule of jewelry is that it must be wearable, comfortable, secure and of quality materials.
The client and I will then come back together to discuss the sketches and select a final design. I like to provide several options, all of which meet the criteria dictated by the story, the materials and the client’s preferences.
We typically have two technical options: First, I can build the piece completely at the bench. Second, we can use outside resources such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) and casting. Factors affecting this choice may include the complexity of the piece, the client’s desire for perfect symmetry beyond the capacity of the human hand, and cost.
CAD is great fun for me. I remember the first time I outsourced for CAD and casting. I had spent years at the bench fabricating everything, and the piece that I had sent to my friends for CAD and casting was just a drawing in my mind. When they had completed their work, they placed the completed cast ring in the palm of my hand. It was a surreal moment.
CAD offers many things to the process of jewelry making. Among them is the opportunity for the client to see a rendering of their piece before it is made — before any metal is expended and before there have been any tools flying. We can still make minor adjustments to the piece at this point. The renderings are so realistic these days – some clients think it is a photograph of the ring already completed.
After the CAD renderings are approved by the client, a 3-D print is created, a mold is made, and the ring is cast. Stones are set. Sizing is adjusted. Metal is polished. We have successfully paid homage to the past as we are carrying the story into the present and future.
The particular piece pictured throughout this post is a ring recently completed for a client. Her diamonds were harvest as pictured above, and these are sketches and renderings for her piece. She is blessed with a family of 11, including children and grandchildren. There are 11 diamonds in the ring. This ring is a celebration of her family.
The renaissance piece is complete.