Spessartite Delight

by sako on August 15, 2013

‘Spessartite Delight’? I love my tacky titles but there’s a hint of sarcasm to this one. Come to think of it, most of my blog titles carry a little hint of sarcasm. I also noticed that I rarely blog about something that isn’t a difficult and laborious process (Where’s the fun in that?). Regardless, I apologize for not releasing more blogs as I used to. I was just gathering up worthy items that I can share with you folks out there. So I get this ring into my shop, a yellow gold ring with a piece of onyx sitting flush on it. There was a little note attached explaining what needed to be done. My first thought was that I was going to be polishing life back into this onyx while keeping it flush. I wasn’t even close. Apparently, I was supposed to remove the onyx and cut a reddish-orange garnet in its place. I needed to find a large enough Garnet which I could butcher so I could strategically cut into this weird yet symmetrical area of the mounting. What I mean about butchering the stone is that the original, larger garnet that I find will lose lots of mass and end up having less resale value in order to achieve the shape desired. I ended up finding a 20x16mm, oval shaped Spessartite Garnet.

Image Image

 Before I continue, allow me to give you a brief backstory on this particular type of Garnet. It’s mostly found in Africa and is an individual mineral member of the Garnet group.  Usually, they range from orange to red-orange. The one I used was closer to the red-orange spectrum. The unique colors are caused by the amount of iron impurities that are found in the stone. Spessartite Garnet has an awesome refractive index, giving the stone a special brilliance. When light hits the stone it dances around and gives it a sparkle that would keep you gazing at the stone in awe.

SpessGarnet (1)

SpessGarnet (2)

It’s pretty difficult to fathom the notion of shaving down a $700 stone (wholesale) just to attach it to a ring with little value (aside for its weight in gold). But when it comes to sentimentality and taste, opinions are left aside. I can’t act too much like the proud chef who scoffs at the patron who orders a well-done steak, because in this business the customer is always right. I myself actually appreciate sentimental pieces because they are usually unique and have meaning beyond what others would understand. But typically sentimental pieces and resale value do not go hand in hand. 

SpessGarnet (3)

SpessGarnet (4)

You’ll notice the flat bottom surface that I have cut into the stone with grooves on either sides to accommodate the half moon section on the ring. Keep in mind that I still have to cab the stone flush on the top section of this ring. (you’ll be seeing this picture again down the home stretch of completing this job.)

SpessGarnet (5)

I don’t know if you can tell from this side view but you can see the level of difficulty of this job. And this isn’t even the hard part.

SpessGarnet (6)

SpessGarnet (7)

This is where I have to build a yellow gold bridge, flush with the round curvature of the shank with a flat top so that flat bottom sits in the new constructed support bridge. By doing this, you close off the gaps you can see in the image.

SpessGarnet (9)

SpessGarnet (8)

As you can see, the bridge on both sides have been built in the image. I’m using a hand tool to adjust and make the newly added sections straight. It’s more of a trial and error process of fitting the stone till all the gaps are closed off.

SpessGarnet (10)

I finished building the bridge sections on the yellow gold ring and then polished the bottom of this Garnet. In the image I’m polishing the concave sections of the stone. This process is vital to achieve that translucent effect. It comes in handy when you want the light to reflect through the stone. It’s perfect to accent the gallery. Quite the illusion I must say. The next step in completing this piece is gluing the Spessartite Garnet, waiting for it to harden, and starting to lap the stone to a flush finish. I am preforming the Garnet to the desired shape.

SpessGarnet (11)

SpessGarnet (12)

I must admit, this ring is coming along fantastically! I had my doubts, I can admit to that. The level of difficulty was high and the added pressure of cutting the stone incorrectly wasn’t helping my cause. If you notice on the side shot, you can see the flush look I was aiming for and you can see the bridge closing the unwanted gaps. Flush on top, flush on the sides, with a nice domed feature. The next process is polishing the Garnet and giving it that smooth surface and stunning shine.

SpessGarnet (13)

SpessGarnet (14)

A little forced, free hand friction with a little water, and a high speed disk with a diamond grit belt and you get…

SpessGarnet (15)

…THIS!

SpessGarnet (16)

SpessGarnet (17)

SpessGarnet (18)

Was that a climatic build up? I tried, honestly, but this sucker came out stunning and is such a ‘one-of-a-kind’ ring. This ring is going to be a collection piece to whoever is going to own it. It may seem like I was complaining while I was writing this blog, but as I was putting my words to this blog, anxiety kicked in. My apologies. I’d honestly blog so much more about all the different things that go through my workshop but somethings I’m not privileged to share such information. But, little gems like this come along and I’m lucky enough to share my words and images in my own domain with my own rules. Till next time…


sako

sako

sako

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