Old vs New: Changing an Out-dated Opal Ring Into a Fabulous Opal Bracelet

Opal bracelet

Cheryl’s Opal, Blue Diamond and Purple Sapphire Bracelet in All it’s Glory

It’s the Story of an Opal Bracelet

Cheryl inherited a ring with opals that wasn’t really her cup of tea. Yet, the opals had been her mother’s and she wanted to wear them to remember her.

As a redesigning jeweler I  will share the steps of this jewelry makeover project.

First I looked at Cheryl’s lifestyle, current jewelry wardrobe and dreamed up this awesome opal bracelet.

Was it a “snap my fingers and it’s done” kind of project? Uh, no.

opal ring in 60's design

Her Mom’s 60’s Free-form Opals Ring

It All Started With Mom’s Old Opal Ring

Cheryl loved the opals. The ring style? Not so much.

I told her it was a dated design and her mom would prefer that she re-use the gift opals rather than store the ring in a dark and lonely safety deposit box.

She agreed and thus we started on this great redesign.

Loose Opals, four of them

Choices I Found for The Center Opal for the Bracelet Idea

What Did Cheryl Need and What Did the Opals Need?

We determined  that Cheryl’s active horseback-riding lifestyle spelled trouble for a ring with those opals. Opals are fairly fragile and daily wear on a ring can be heart-breaking. I envisioned a larger canvas to use the opals on. I suggested an opal bracelet.

Cheryl loved the purple and blue fire in her opals. We decided to add blue diamonds and purple sapphires to accent the opals. A larger center opal was needed to go with her six little ones to anchor the design.

Jewelry Design Drawing for opal bracelet, Calla Gold Jewelry

This is the drawing I did for Cheryl with Scalloped Edges, Braid Framing and Careful Placement of each Opal.

The Design

I love that Cheryl let’s me go a bit nuts with the details I lavish on designs when given half a chance. I chose bezels to set the gems in to protect them.

The design needed to be heavy with metal so we opted for sterling silver with a very sturdy 14kt white gold clasp.

Opals and purple sapphires

Once the Center Opal was Decided on it was Time to Show the Purple Sapphires I Found and the Braid

Working at a Distance

The first step was to remove the opals. And then to locate the colored gemstones we’d use to set off the fire of her opals.

I also wanted to show her how the braid detail would look. We picked the center opal and side stones using email and phone calls.

Wax carving, first step for a bracelet

The First Step of Wax Carving for This Hand Wax Carved Bracelet

Was the Wax Carving Process Quick?

There are a number of steps to go through. Once I measured Cheryl’s wrist I knew what size to make the bracelet.

The first step in the wax process is to work out the size around, the width and taper of the bracelet.

Wax of opal bracelet before casting

After Much Work, the Wax is Ready for Casting

We drew on the sizes of all the bezels that were to set the gems. Then we made sure there was still room for the braid and framing elements. Then the scallops got carved on.

The answer to the question is that the wax carving process in this case was not fast. All the texturing on the finished bracelet was worked into the wax before casting.

Opal Bracelet raw casting

This is the Casting Fresh Out of the Casting Process Before any Polishing or Work was Done on it.

Then We Cast it!

Before we started setting the opals and the other gemstones we antiqued the silver to give it a color tone that’d set off the gemstones and help to prevent uneven tarnishing in the future.

Setting opals in bezels is work that must be done slowly and carefully because opals are soft, fragile and crack easily.

Opal Bracelet Finished, Calla Gold Jewelry

This View Really Shows the Antique Finish. By Slightly Darkening the Sterling Silver at First it Tends to Prevent that Blotchy Tarnishing Look That Can Happen Later

It was about two weeks before we finished.

Her Favorite Piece

Cheryl said, “I love this, it’s my favorite piece we’ve made.” That made my day because we’ve made some great pieces in the past.

Hmmm, now I need to dream up the next favorite piece. I will not rest on my laurels!

Designing Jeweler,
Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Renee Manseau
Renee Manseau
10 years ago

Wow! I looooove opals, and this bracelet is just to die for. The design is gorgeous, and I love the added diamonds and sapphires.
Seeing the steps you took is like looking back stage at the Bolshoi Ballet. Really fun. I’d like to see more of these step by step to awesome finished project jewelry posts.
Great work, Calla!
Opal loving Renee

Linda Menesez
10 years ago

Calla, this is just stunning! What a beautifully unique design, and finished product!! I love that you educated us about the process you go through to arrive at the final, finished bracelet — including taking into consideration her active lifestyle.


Amy Marie Orozco
10 years ago

I love hearing the backstory about your client, her jewelry from her mom and the step-by-step process in the making of her extraordinary bracelet. Thank you for sharing those details. It was like peeking into an area I’ve never seen. Do you have a book in the making?

Gregory Hyman
10 years ago

What a process! Who knew? I appreciate your in-depth approach to customizing your jewelry-art for the individual and their lifestyle. You are a crafts-woman indeed.

10 years ago

As usual, Calla is firing on all cylinders. She knows her gemstones, she knows her clients and what will work to protect the legacy of her client’s mother. What a beautiful, strong, yet unique piece. Genius!

Lisa Darsonval
10 years ago

Calla, you have such an eye for style! What an amazing design you came up with, transitioning the opals from a ring to a more modern designed bracelet. The colors are beautiful, and you always know exactly what to do to showcase that!

Opal Bracelets
Opal Bracelets
6 years ago

Wow! How beautifully you transformed old opal ring to a trendy bracelet. You played pretty well with the colors to give grace to this bracelet.