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Monthly Archives: November 2015

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.

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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.

Variegated agate

Variegated agate

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.

Pendant: silver, variegated agate

Pendant: silver, variegated agate

Pendant: silver, variegated agate

Pendant: silver, variegated agate

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.

 

Ring with 2 Masks: silver, iolite

Ring with 2 Masks: silver, iolite

Ring with 2 Masks: silver, iolite

Ring with 2 Masks: silver, iolite

Ring with 2 Masks: silver, iolite

Ring with 2 Masks: silver, iolite

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.

Lemniscate ring: siver, garnets

Lemniscate ring: siver, garnets

Lemniscate ring: siver, garnets

Lemniscate ring: siver, garnets

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.