Fresh Water Elephant

by sako on March 5, 2014

Broken record? You have no idea! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about something but there is a reason behind the dormant state of my blog. To sum it up in a jiff, I’ve been planning a new website for my business and I wanted to incorporate my blog with my new website. Something modern but to the point while showcasing what my company does – providing service for that niche jewelry market that I’m in. I look at this blog post as a precursor letting everyone who stumbles upon it that a few changes for the better are coming in the very near future.


Fresh Water Elephant? What the heck does that mean? I’m glad you asked. It’s a great topic starter for this blog involving some freshwater pearls that I’ve obtained. I don’t consider myself an artist, but for the sake of this particular blog, let’s just say that I am (even though I’ve been caught doodling and animating over the years). When you have this free-form freshwater pearl looking right at you, begging for someone to create something with it, you start to let your imagination wonder a bit. What does this pearl look like? What can I build around this pearl? You start sketching around it. You start Googling different variations of things. Okay, lets go animal kingdom with this odd looking pearl. You start to Google more images. A bird? A frog? An elephant? (as an aside I have done some stuff I’ve done with free-form pearls so keep a look out in the near future when my new website is launched.) So, I went with an elephant. Now we’ve got ourselves an elephant to design around this pearl. What part of the elephant? I know, let’s go and use the pearl as the head, legs and upper torso and I’ll build around that. I can’t CAD the around the elephant. It won’t be possible due to all the natural curves the CAD program won’t capture. So let’s do hand-carved wax. Keep it old school with this elephant. So I wax carved it by hand.

Elephant pearl Wax carving (1) Elephant pearl Wax carving (2)

Elephant pearl Wax carving (3)

Not bad, right? So I wax carved the trunk, the ears, the feet and the tiny, cute, little tail for this tiny elephant. I also decided to give it a traditional cap so I can set some diamonds on top to make it a classy looking elephant. That section between the feet, I didn’t want to leave it empty so I added some sort of grass like bush to authenticate it with its typical surroundings. Now it’s time to carefully remove the wax off of the pearl and send it into casting. I was thinking 18 karat, yellow gold should do the trick.

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (5)

Pretty cool I might add. This little guy, who’s a little larger than a quarter, is coming out great!

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (6)

That little section which I like to call it’s baseball cap, we pave set some beautiful white diamonds and right underneath it, we bezel set a nice blue sapphire. It looks like a classier circus elephant. If you notice, I’ve marked with a sharpie a black mark with where I’m going to be drilling a tiny hole to give this elephant some sight.

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (1)

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (2)

Elephant pearl pendant 18k YG (3)

So for the eyes, I cut a tiny ruby cabachon to accent the yellow, white, and blue undertones. I slightly oxidized the little holes and outer lines on the ears and feet to give it a little more depth in color contrast. I also added a hand made bail/jump ring for the chain to run through it.

Elephant Such a killer looking piece. It’s original, it’s mother natures giant beast at it’s best. So why not showcase this little guy with his friends, haha. It may look tacky to some but this pro shot of this elephant is awesome to me. Enjoy the details of this finished 18 karat, free-form freshwater pearl, dressed up as an elephant. I call these sort of pieces, ‘one-of-a-kind’ collector items.

Keep a look out for my brand new website and a more consistent flow of blogs. Cheers!





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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)


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…





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