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A sneak peak into a creative jewellery workshop, the stories and work behind our commissions. #onthebenchtoday #myctrocks
By Claire Troughton, Mar 28 2017 10:12AM
I'm a little late writing about these rings, but I was reminded to post when a lady commented how lovely the ring I had made for her friend Jo is. I didn't know the 2 ladies in question were friends, but it's a small world.
Jo had seen my 'Shimmering Ripples' 18ct yellow gold and diamond ring on the website and loved it, but wanted something a little less irregular, plus she wanted to re-use the gold from some old rings.
Wide swirly Shimmering Ripples18ct yellow gold and diamond wedding ring
Jo decided she would like the 2 outer circles of each ripple to be rose gold from her old rings and the inner one would be white gold. This meant melting the old rings and re-forming into wire. Then 8 large circles of rose gold had to be made, plus 8 medium circles of rose gold and 8 small circles of white gold, each one having a solder join to close it together. One of each of the different sized circles then had to be soldered inside each other to produce the individual ripples, then these were soldered into a line. Finally this row of ripples could then be formed into a ring and soldered together. All in all a lot of soldering with 41 different joins and each time the metal is heated up to complete a new solder join there is a chance the solder will flow out of any of the other joins and re-open them. Thankfully all went to plan and both Jo and I were delighted with the result.
Bespoke handmade rose and white gold ripple wedding ring
Ewan had his own ideas for a bespoke wedding ring. He came armed with an intricate rope armband and wanted the same pattern on his white gold wedding ring.
Rope pattern gents wedding ring
I decided the best way to do this was to create an image which could be laser engraved onto the ring. The pattern was cut into the ring, leaving the rope design as a recess and blackened inside to emphasise.
Bespoke laser engraved rope pattern gents wedding ring.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think to the results.
By Claire Troughton, Mar 2 2017 11:14AM
Well it's a gorgeous sunny day here in Chester with lovely blue skies, so the perfect day to write about my most recent commission, which was collected yesterday.
I was first contacted by Simon about 4 years ago just after his wife had given birth to their son. He wanted to mark the occasion with a truly special gift. He had the inspired idea of creating a pendant in the form of a sun. He wanted it to feature a stunning diamond, which would be the star of the show, but in a truly unique necklace. I created a few sketch designs and we decided to offset the stone and place it in a flowing tendril setting with rays leaping out all around. The piece was totally handmade in platinum.
When Dawn's 'big' Birthday came around this year Simon thought matching earrings would be the perfect gift. I was able to source a beautiful pair of brilliant cut diamonds and set them into a handmade sun design. Once again the earrings feature the hand engraved design to tie the pieces together, but they're not identical, avoiding a twee clichee.
18ct white gold diamond sun earrings
Unfortunately neither picture really shows how stunning the diamonds looked as I didn't have time to send them to the photographer. Some things are just not my forte! However, Dawn's look said it all. She just couldn't stop smiling and they looked stunning against her hair. I think Simon's Mum in law was a little shocked by his taste and originality too!
By Claire Troughton, Feb 1 2017 11:18AM
In January 2017 I completed a lovely commission for a customer. Peter had approached me to create a ring for his wife to replace her original engagement ring. This was a very dainty ring with a butterfly. Time had taken it's toll and the band had snapped. Peter decided the time had come to replace the ring with an updated and more durable version. He wanted to keep the butterfly theme and had an idea in mind of what he wanted it to look like. I worked with him to produce this stunning ring in 18ct yellow gold with a diamond encrusted shoulder and diamond set butterfly. It still has a dainty feel to the ring, but will definitely be something that will stand the test of time. I absolutely love this ring and am now thinking about a bee themed one. Watch this space.
By Claire Troughton, Nov 5 2016 04:36PM
Handmade 18ct white and yellow gold wedding ring with 6 floating diamonds.
This stunning wedding ring was made for a customer who had a couple of old-fashioned diamond rings that she didn't want to wear anymore. It was a shame to leave them lying in a drawer, so she commissioned a ring to incorporate all the diamonds into one contemporary wedding ring. The customer wanted a mix of yellow and white gold and so we chose to make the centre band in yellow gold incorporating a white gold setting and the outer 2 bands in white gold with yellow gold settings. This mix of metals meant the ring had to be entirely handmade, rather than constructing in silver and casting in one piece or using CAD. In total the ring had 17 solder joints, which lead to some pretty nervous moments. Firstly each band was made and soldered, then the 3 bands were soldered to each other, then I had to work out where each setting would sit and cut a piece out of the band exactly the right size to drop the setting into. Each setting then had to be soldered in place to join it at each side to the wire band. Soldering is achieved by heating the entire ring with a gas flame until the solder and metal to be joined are at the right temperature to let the solder flow into the gap between the two items, bonding them in place when cooled. Soldering so many joins so closely together meant there wasa risk each time the ring was heated that the other joins would also heat up and cause the settings to move or even worse melt! Thankfully all went to plan and the diamonds just look so stunning in their new home. The ring is approximately 9mm wide and can't fail to catch the eye - a real sparkler!
By Claire Troughton, Sep 28 2015 11:18AM
I often get asked how I make a piece and how long it takes. Well the answer is completely different each time, but I thought I'd share the story of one recent commission here.
One gallery I sell my work through was approached by a gentleman looking to commission a necklace for his wife. It particularly had to feature doves as the couple keep these birds. As the gallery didn't stock a jewellery designer who already makes dove jewellery they decided to approach me. The customer was impressed with the detail of my bees and dragonflies and thought that I would be able to capture the essence of the dove. It was important to him that they be a realistic representation rather than very stylised and also that they be shown flying and be 3D rather than flat. Quite a lot to fit into the piece!
The first stage was to produce some sketches for the customer. I sometimes produce images with CAD (computer aided design) if a very accurate representation is required, but I feel this works better for less organic pieces. Therefore I did a few quick pencil sketches for the customer to choose from and he picked this one.
I've never made a bird before never mind a dove, so the first stage was to work out how to make it. Some people like to carve from wax and then cast the piece, but I like to work with the metal itself, manipulating it into the shape I want using various techniques. I started with the body, using different thicknesses of wire, hammering them at points to get a basic form. Then I soldered pieces on to build up the form and filed bits away where more definition was needed. I kept on working like this until I was satisfied I had the basic form right.
I then moved onto making the wings, which were saw pierced from silver sheet. At this point I took photos and asked my daughter's opinion. She's only 7 and is the biggest fan of my jewellery, but also my harshest critic. Verdict "Well it could be a dove Mummy, but it could also be a duck!" I think you can see what she means from these pictures.
Dove commission necklace making a flying silver dove
So, the next stage was to add a tail, again made from saw pierced silver sheet and refine the form of the body. I also hand shaped the wings and engraved a feather pattern. When I was finally satisfied with the doves they had jump rings soldered on to attach to the chain. This was a particularly tricky stage since there were already several solder joins in a very small area, so getting too much heat on one part could cause the solder to run again and make a wing fall off. Soldering on precious metal is done with a torch with a small propane flame, not a soldering iron used on base metals. You need to heat the metal in the area you are soldering to allow the solder to flow without heating up old solder joins and when using silver the heat can spread very quickly, so you need a good eye and a steady hand.
The final stage was to polish the doves, to give them a nice shiny finish and attach to the chain. Here's the finished piece. What do you think? Please feel free to comment.