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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!