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One from the archives: Bespoke, handmade jewellery for special occasions...

One from the archives: Bespoke, handmade jewellery for special occasions...
Back in 2014, I was contacted by a bride-to-be, who was looking for a unique gift for her sister (the sister was to be the matron of honour at her upcoming wedding). Our brief was left pretty open (which is great as it allows for a wider scope of creativity) with the basic guidelines being:
(1) to commission a pendant on a chain, made of silver;
(2) her sister's favourite colour is purple so amethyst would be a great choice of gemstone;
(3) her sister loves hearts so it needs to be featured in the design somewhere; and
(4) two of the sister's favourite pieces of jewellery are her heart shape diamond engagement ring, and an oval locket that carries within it an old family photo of her grandparents.
With the guidelines, some background info and the budget established, I made a trip to some of the fabulous gemstone suppliers I work with to look for the perfect gem. After searching through tray full upon tray full of amethyst gems of different colour, clarity, carat weight and cut (and believe us when we say there were many!) we chose the perfect specimen...
Pictured above is the final gem chosen for our bespoke piece: a 5.14ct faceted oval amethyst that had a checker board type faceting; the perfect cut allowing the stone to sparkle and show off its hue just magnificently.
With the stone picked and approved, the next step was finding a perfect design to show off the colour, cut and sparkle of the gem to the full. After hours of brainstorming and sketching, the following design was chosen:
 
We decided that the amethyst should be the focal point of the design. As it was important that a heart be featured, we came up with the idea that the heart would be visible only from the back of the necklace and would also hold on it a special engraved message.
Now came the next fun part... the making! Here are some little snippets from the making process to show you how the pendant was handmade.
Firstly, we needed to make the oval frame of the gemstone. This would act as both the seat and the setting of the stone...
Once the oval seat of the stone was made and we were happy with the fit, next came making the heart that would be the feature of the back of the pendant.
Left: the silver heart section made. Right: the pendant once the top and bottom halves were soldered together. The pendant looks dirty in the right picture as when silver is soldered, it oxidises (see next images for cleaning process).
Once the two halves of the pendant were soldered together successfully, it was time to check the seat of the gemstone once more and mark the areas that the individual handmade claws would be soldered on to.
Top left: marking the first two of the six claws holding the gemstone in place. Top right: 5 claws soldered and only one more to go. Bottom Left: final claw being soldered onto the setting. Bottom right: the completely soldered pendant is in a 'pickle' bath; a mild acid solution that removes oxidisation which appears on the silver during the soldering process.
Once the pendant was 'pickled', cleaned and polished here is what it looked like:
Left: the front of the pendant and the stone. You can now clearly see the six individually soldered claws of the setting. Right: back of the gemstone featuring the heart design before Hallmarking and hand engraving of the personal message.
Now that the silver pendant was complete, all that was left to do was set the stone and engrave the message (that reads 'Love is here to stay 12.7.14') and submit the piece for Hallmarking.
The final result:
The commissioned piece, finished and ready to wear...
Top left: front view of the pendant. Top right: front view at an angle. Bottom left: back of the pendant showing the heart feature, the engraving and the Hallmark of the London Assay office. Bottom right: side view showing where the chain slips through the pendant.
It was a real joy to design and make such a significant piece of jewellery that holds such sentiment of love, and one that will be treasured for many, many more years to come.
.....
Thea, who was the bride to be, very kindly wrote a testimonial for us that we would like to share:
'I commissioned a pendant from Mandana to thank my sister for being matron of honour at my wedding. Mandana listened to my requirements, which were a special piece of jewellery with purple stone and heart shape incorporated into the design, and responded with imagination and flair to create a beautiful gift. Mandana kept in touch with me at each stage, sending me photos of sketches and work in progress that were art in themselves, which made me feel excited about the jewellery and special to be involved in her creative process. It was a true pleasure commissioning work from her. Thank you so much Mandana. I will not hesitate in using you again in the future. In fact, I look forward to opportunities to do so!'
And thank you Thea for commissioning me to make such a truly special piece that holds so much meaning...

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