Charoite was unknown when I started in the trade in 1971. It was only discovered in 1978, and in the last few years it has become available from stone dealers – at reasonable prices, so presumably they have found fairly big deposits. It’s usually more purple than this one, which has wonderful bands of green, yielding a fantastical landscape over which flies a ragged crow, or perhaps a dragon.
I guess there’s a name for agates like this, but I don’t know it. The stone was cut in India but may have come from anywhere – it’s a global world.
I have opted for a setting that is in conversation with the stone. What I wanted was the impression of a seaside rock pool. It was carved in wax and cast by the lost-wax process.
This gallery contains 12 photos.
What gives moonstone its magic is the blob of light that seems to move about inside the stone like a captive djinn. Of course it’s impossible to photograph this, but these pics do give some idea.
In case you’d been thinking that I’ve abandoned my penchant for representational stuff and traditional styles, here’s a pinkie ring with an iolite from India.
Benvenuto Cellini often mentions incorporating masks into rings in his Autobiography, and I have been fascinated by the idea ever since. No doubt mine are nowhere near as good as Cellini’s. His may not have been either – the Autobiography is full of lies and exaggerations, and perhaps that’s why it’s such great fun to read. Here’s an example:
“I thanked the Duke for his kind words, but begged him to let me render this trifling service to the Duchess. Then I took the ring in hand, and finished it within a few days. It was meant for the little finger; accordingly I fashioned four tiny children in the round and four masks, which figures composed the hoop. I also found room for some enamelled fruits and connecting links, so that the stone and setting went uncommonly well together. Then I took it to the Duchess, who told me graciously that I had produced a very fine piece, and that she would remember me. She afterwards sent the ring as a present to King Philip, and from that time forward kept charging me with commissions, so kindly, however, that I did my best to serve her, although I saw but very little of her money.”
Making a ring with two round stones always presents a problem – the stones often end up looking like snake-eyes. But I wanted to set these two garnets together. Their different sizes suggested a figure-8, and I thought that if I turned it 90 deg It would become an infinity sign, and that the sign would override the snake association in perception.
A lemniscus is one of those figure-8 infinity signs. I have looked for lemniscate rings on Google Images, and there are lots of them, but none like this. So perhaps this is that rare thing for a designer – something both simple and original.
The amethyst cab wasn’t all that exciting, pale and with veils and inclusions. By setting a piece of blue Paua shell behind the stone, I think I have managed to redeem it – giving it a mysterious blue colour that flashes and changes in the depths.