Some recent pendants

by helen hill on February 21, 2009

The following is a pendant I made for a friend who had just had a baby.  It’s a style that I make on a regular basis but one which I will soon be making exclusively for a jeweller who wants to sell it through his website.  I’ve had a few offers from people who have said they will carry my work, but he is the first one to carry it through so fingers crossed it goes well.

The pendant has a bezel-set lab tanzanite within the circular element.  The stone was chosen due to the connection of tanzanite with new life.  I like the setting within the circle to represent a new baby, although I obviously don’t use it exclusively for that purpose.

Lab tanzanite circle pendant

Lab tanzanite circle pendant

The next pendant is a variation on the above theme and one I made for myself.  I’m not happy with this one by any stretch of the imagination.  I was still trying to get used to my new oxy/propane torch and although I had prepared the circle element immaculately, with all surfaces really flat and crisp and I pre-polished the inside to make life easier later on, I over-heated it when soldering the setting unit inside it and the surface went all bubbly and rough.  I had a lot of clean-up to do and I wasn’t able to get it as neat as it was before.  Also, I over-polished some of the bezels once it was all soldered together and stones set, so some of them look a tad thin in the walls whereas I prefer them to look chunky.  I may try it again at some point.  The stones are lab tanzanite and CZ’s.  When worn, you don’t really notice the bits of metal in between the settings.  I make small metal spacers so that the bezels are not butted up against each other and I have enough room to turn the bezels over.  It’s a compromise and one which I need to think about more carefully.

Lab tanzanite and CZ circle pendant

Lab tanzanite and CZ circle pendant

The following pendant is one I knocked together the other day, to go with an outfit to wear to my brother-in-law’s wedding.  I made earrings to match too but they’re simply bezel-set small danglies set with lab tanzanite and CZ’s so I didn’t photograph them.  I’m sort of happy with how the pendant turned out, except that I didn’t quite have enough D-wire for it to extent further down, just past the stones.  I think that would have looked better.  It was a case of me scratching about in my “work in progress” draw, choosing this stone and that stone and that bit of wire, etc, etc.  It’s made from sterling silver, blue lace agate, lab blue sapphire, lab tanzanite and CZ.  Hubby says it reminds him of a cat’s paw but it reminds me of sweat pea plants – I think it’s the D-wire which reminds me of the plant’s tendrils.  I liked using the D-wire to make an integral bail.  BTW, is it bail or bale?  I’ve seen it spelled both ways.

Blue lace agate, lab sapphire, lab tanzanite and CZ pendant

Blue lace agate, lab sapphire, lab tanzanite and CZ pendant

The following is a pendant I made using my very controversial boulder opal.  I had been wondering what to do with it for the last year and then a project in Jewelry Artist magazine gave me the inspiration I needed to get going with it.  I had a couple of bits of melted down yellow gold which I’d made from melting gold chains a friend no longer wanted.  Obviously it was contaminated with solder but that didn’t matter as it was only for me.  I would never do that with something I was going to sell or give as a gift to someone else.  Funnily enough, it took on a more rose gold colour rather than its original yellow gold colour (it was only 9K yellow gold) and it wouldn’t buff off – but I like the pinkish colour – it’s a good job really as I’m stuck with it! 😉  I rolled out the lumps of melted “gold”, one to use as the main piece and the other to use as an overlay for the bail.  The main piece produced a lovely scalloped edged effect which I liked so much that I decided to leave it that way rather than cutting it into a more conventional shape.  I planished it for a textured finish.  I fabricated the bezels for the boulder opal, lab tanzanites and CZ.  I carved the sides of the boulder opal bezel with an inverted cone burr.  The bezels were soldered on, with the trillion settings “hanging” off the edge of the “gold”.  The bail was made by making marquise-shaped pieces of sterling silver and my smaller “gold” sheet, the gold smaller than the silver.  The silver was carved with a linear pattern and the gold was planished.  Unfortunately, when the bail was on my soldering board, it picked up a bit of silver solder which I hadn’t noticed and so I had to clean up and re-texture the gold part.  There’s still a ghost of silver solder I decided to leave, rather than removing too much material – it can just be seen in the top left of the bail.  I LOVE texture and it’s something I’m going to play with more.  This is the first piece where I’ve really experimented with texture.  When I set the stones, I used an old electrical screw driver and trusty hammer to make a pattern in the boulder opal and CZ bezel tops.  I used a small amount of epoxy glue inside the boulder opal setting, as the bezel does not come over the top of the stone.  I wear the pendant on a purchased sterling silver byzantine chain.

BTW, can you see a pattern forming with my choice of stones?  Yep, it’s true, I love tanzanite and the colour blue and use it often.  I have a lovely 18K white gold ring with three eye clean natural tanzanites and diamonds which I wear with the lab tanzanite jewellery I made (it was a Christmas pressy from hubby – lucky me! 😉 and he also bought me a trillion eye clean tanzanite a couple of years ago which will probably find its way into another ring at some point, maybe in palladium when I’ve had a bit more practice with it.

Boulder opal, lab tanzanite and CZ pendant - silver and recycled gold

Boulder opal, lab tanzanite and CZ pendant - silver and recycled gold

The following is a picture of the pendant which inspired me to make the above piece.  It was made by Marilyn Mack and is streets ahead of mine but I’m pleased with mine nonetheless.  I’d love to own Marilyn’s pendant though.

Inspiration for my pendant

Inspiration for my pendant

The following photograph is of the ill-fated boulder opals which I was making into a pair of earrings to go with my pendant.  As you can see, they’re more purple than the pendant boulder opal, but I loved the contrast.  I was going to set them with lab alexandrite.  When I broke the stone, I ended up cutting off the bottoms of the settings and making the lab alexandrite settings into studs.  I may modify them later if I find some suitable opals.

Broken boulder opals

Broken boulder opals

Finally, I made the following piece for my drama-loving daughter but it’s not finished yet.  It’s just out of the tumbler, hence the “halo” at the junction between the two masks.  It needs a jolly good polish yet.  As was suggested to me by an Orchid buddy, I will probably make a sterling silver chain for it, as well as some seed bead “chains” in her favourite colours, each of which can hook onto the rings.  Funnily enough, after taking Chloe to a jewellery trade fair a few weeks ago, she’s decided she wants to leave college and get a job in the jewellery industry, starting with retail.  More on that in another post.

Sterling silver drama masks necklace

Sterling silver drama masks necklace

I must try to do a blog post more often rather than all at once!  Thanks for your patience.

helen hill

helen hill

helen hill

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen Hill February 23, 2009 at 5:30 am

Thanks so much for your lovely comments Vicki and Nicola. The two pieces you mention were really fun to do and didn’t present too many problems – which is always a good thing! 🙂 Thanks again.
Helen Hill

Nicola Callow February 23, 2009 at 4:02 am

Loving the piece inspired by Marilyn Mack
& all the stones!

Vicki Kataja February 22, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Helen,

I love your designs! The circle pendants are clean and modern, I especially like the blue lace agate pendant. Keep up the good work!

Vicki

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