Chinese turquoise, topaz and peridot necklace and earrings

by helen hill on November 2, 2008

I recently got back in touch with a friend I lost contact with when I moved up to Lancashire from Birmingham in 1993.  I’ve thought about her often but suddenly had an overwhelming urge to catch up again.  We were friends from when we were expecting our first children in 1986.  Sadly Jenny lost her little girl at around about her due date.  She didn’t find out why her little girl was stillborn until a few years later, after she had successfully given birth to a boy and a while later, sadly lost another baby girl.  She was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis, a condition where the flow of bile in the liver is reduced, such that there is a build up which leaks into the bloodstream and can poison the unborn baby.  The disease causes severe itching which is often the only symptom and is a condition that is not widely known about.  After diagnosis, babies are usually delivered at around 37 weeks (or earlier, dependent on levels of bile salts in the blood) because of the increased risk of stillbirth in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Happily, Jenny went on to have another baby boy, who was delivered early.  Coincidentally (and fortunately as it was prior to her OC diagnosis), her first boy was born without complications due to her being in hospital having fallen and broken her knee.  She was so uncomfortable that she was induced a few weeks early.  Her broken knee probably saved his life.  Obstetric cholestasis usually occurs in subsequent pregnancies, once you’ve already had it and Jenny suffered with it during all four pregnancies.  Since the tragically sad loss of her baby daughters, Jenny has done a great deal of fund-raising, research and campaigning to raise awareness of this not very well-known disease.  She carries out research at Imperial College London for part of the week, as well as working in the Midlands the rest of the time.  She has set up a website and raises funds to help the work she does, so that people become aware of the disease and seek medical attention if symptoms arise during pregnancy.  Jenny’s website is:

Jenny has organised an OC Ball on November 8th in London, where a charity auction will take place.  I’ve made a necklace and earring set to donate to the auction.  It is sterling silver with Chinese turquoise, London blue topaz (from Brazil) and peridot (from Pakistan).  It is all hand-fabricated from sterling wire and sheet and has a full UK hallmark from the Birmingham Assay Office.  It’s a really substantial piece.  The necklace alone contains 35g of silver before being set with stones, and the earrings are over 5g unset.  The necklace lays beautifully on the neck, with none of my previous problems of settings twisting around!  I broke a couple of jump rings off two of the turquoise settings the other day whilst setting the turquoise and had to make two new settings with new stones (which I fortunately had in stock).  I was able to do a good repair even though the stones were set, by heat-sinking the stone-set settings and just heating the jump ring connecting them.  I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out and am hoping people will like it and more importantly want to buy it and therefore help raise some funds for OCSupport.

I hope you like it too.

Sterling silver, Chinese turquoise, London blue topaz and peridot necklace and earrings

Sterling silver, Chinese turquoise, London blue topaz and peridot necklace and earrings

Close-up of earrings

Close-up of earrings

Another view in presentation box

Another view in presentation box

helen hill

helen hill

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

helensgems November 3, 2008 at 10:30 am

Thanks for your comments Hans and Beth – it’s lovely to get feedback, and yes it is a great cause. Sadly, OC is very low profile which means that babies are dying needlessly. If women knew about it, the way they are aware of pre-eclampsia, then more babies could be saved. It’s been a very sad time for Jenny and her family.
Helen Hill

Beth Wicker November 3, 2008 at 9:01 am

Beautiful work Helen – and what a great cause! I had not ever heard of that. So sad for your friend and her husband.

Hans Meevis November 3, 2008 at 8:53 am

You are really getting the hang of it. Nice job and nice design too. Well done!

helensgems November 3, 2008 at 2:35 am

Thank you Carrie. I was going to use emeralds and sapphires I had in stock as the colours were even better, but they were too small compared to the turquoise, so I felt they would have the wrong visual balance size-wise. It was a toss-up between colour or size. Glad you like it, thanks! Helen Hill

carrie November 2, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Really pretty work Helen! I love the color combination. Great job!

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