Saturday, September 02, 2006

Highlights From Our Workshop

The gem is a rare 9.01 carat natural padparadscha sapphire that I obtained from Sri Lanka for our client. Padparadscha is a corruption of the ancient Singhalese and literally means: “color of the lotus.” In Ratnapura they say that the color lies somewhere between the color of the flower and that of the rising sun. (For a full discussion of connoisseurship in Padparadscha sapphire see Secrets of the Gem Trade, Chapter 23.)

Our client decided that she would like a brooch designed that would play off the sunrise metaphor. We proceeded to do a series of pencil sketches that embodied the theme, some more some less literal.

The sketch at leftshows the design our client chose. The long horizontal bar suggests the horizon with the sun rising over hilly terrain, in the background the blaze of sunbeams.

The construction of the piece was fairly straightforward. For three dimensional affect, the horizon line is carved in wax then cast using the cire perdue or lost wax method. The sunburst design is cut directly from sheet gold. Although most jewelry made today originates as a wax carving we prefer the ancient method of working directly in metal. Why?, simply because, in the hands of a skilled artist/craftsman, it achieves a better result. There is something about gold. The handling of it initiates a dialogue between the artist and his material.

A piece made in wax even when cast in gold retains the character of the wax. A piece made in gold shows the character of both the metal and the process of forming it. Like a fine handmade table or finely cut suit there is really no substitute for hand fabrication in the creation of an important heirloom.

Using a saw blade less than a millimeter thick (right)

, master goldsmith, Douglas Canivet saws 18k yellow gold sheet into the required shape. Once cut out, filed and finished, the two pieces are soldered together resulting in the beautiful object shown here.

Behold the latest creation. The brooch, executed in polished and sandblasted yellow gold sets off and allows all the charms of the sapphire to come forward while creating the perfect counterpoint. Note the color and compare it to the first image. In the first case the image was photographed in incandescent light in the second, natural daylight. The yellowish lightbulb brings out the orange, the rich ultraviolet of daylight brings out the pink.

Learn more about padparadscha sapphire and other rare and fine gemstones. Become a gem connoisseur! Read my bestselling book: Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones. You may click on the link and read a free sample chapter:

"This book takes a much-needed sledgehammer to the industry's conventional wisdom about what makes a gemstone precious, and in the process builds a solid foundation for anyone who wants to understand the true beauty and value of gemstones."

Morgan Beard
Editor-in-Chief Colored Stone Magazine

1 comment:

Africanuck said...

Spectacular stone, and the brooch sets it off perfectly. Bravo!