Friday, April 22, 2011

Design Challenge and Change.

There is one thing that rules my life when it comes to gold smithing and gem cutting or carving .

I never like to be comfortable.

That is, I always push my personal envelope by tackling projects that  I have only a vague idea how to do, or ones that have a high  chance of failure. And boy, my failure box overfloweth……

By tackling a challenge that lies just beyond my level of competence I learn more than I would were I to do something I am competent and comfortable with.

This runs against my human grain, really. I mean, I like doing jobs where the outcome is certain, because I have done them many times before. But that is not good enough.

It’s a little bit like the traveller, who always wonders what is around the next corner.

It takes about ten years of serious work in any field to master it, be that goldsmithing, painting or a medical degree. After that the challenges of competence kicks in.

And the fields you are competent in don’t  cross transfer either, me thinks.

Just because you good at setting does not mean you good at designing jewellery, or because you speak German does not necessarily make you good at Dutch.

That said, I tackled the ring below knowing for me it was a difficult design and manufacturing challenge. As to whether I succeeded is up to the individual observer.Carved-Citrine-Ring-1

I set diamonds in the top of the side curve on either side of the citrine. They were bent inwards and also hold the Citrine in place.

Then I set Sandawana emeralds and diamonds in the sides of the curve, and this was very difficult for me. Setting on the top first (1.4mm diamonds) and then on the side afterwards was dangerous, because it is very easy to drill into the top stone from  the side and frack it up.

There are 32 pavĂ© set stones and they took me from 9 in the morning to 3.30 in the afternoon. Six and a half hours is about double the normal time  for me. In my old days, I could set 100 stones in a  8 hour day, pushing it.

Okay, that was standard setting, but you get my drift…..

So I learnt some.

Also, I did not drill through the curved sides. Otherwise one would see unsightly holes where the carved citrine is and then that would lower the tone of the neighbourhood.

I swear I sweated…

Carved-Citrine-Ring-side  A side view is the two curves that hold the citrine in place.


I use a setting ball with an expanding ring holder to hold the whole effort in place. This way I don’t have to use any thermo plastic or setting wax. ( I really dislike that stuff.)

Getting it out of the job requires acetone and thinners and I just am so tired of that smell.


Anyway, I made this design three times over until I arrived here. As to whether it sells or not, I don’t know, but I learnt a lot doing this ring.

The carving was a new thing for me, because, as described a few posts back, it looked better upside down than the original way round, so then I had to design outside my comfort zone.French-Couple's-Ring

This is a ring that I made for a totally lovely French couple on holiday in St Maarten. Later, she will have her diamonds set into the side gold strips.

Other than the Citrine ring, this is the last piece of jewellery that I have made for a customer in our shop.

This is symbolic for us. We took pictures of the people.

And these two were the first pieces of jewellery that I made for our first customers in our then very new shop, some six years ago, titanium, silver, gold and diamonds.

We also took picture of those people.

The beginning and the end.

So now the circle is nearly complete, and Anne and I move our life to a different stage.

This blog will have one or two more  posts concerning St Maarten and then for some three months will turn into a travel blog, much like our trip to America.

I look forward to our new adventure, leaving Maarten after eight years and starting  somewhere anew in Europe .


Yesterday afternoon we were at Karakter, ( character, in English )one of Anne and I’s favourite beach bars and just having a good time with some great friends.


Later, I took this picture of the Pelican resort area, on  a balmy night in St Maarten from Simpson bay beach.

There is much to look forward to, but there is much we will miss from St Maarten.

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