A Sterling Silver Custom Necklace, Molten and Laser Engraved, – A Beloved Project

Sterling Silver Necklace

Kevin’s Molten Four Places Necklace in Sterling Silver

A Peek into The Life of a Jewelry Designer

One day a unique request came into my email box. Kevin wanted to create a special sterling silver custom necklace for his wife.

Stacy had created a graphic image to symbolize their relationship. It was a focal point in their wedding. Kevin wanted to have a piece of custom designed jewelry for Stacy using their design. He said, “It represents  four important places we have been together.”

At the end of the article I explain the places and what they mean to Kevin and Stacy.

Coming up with the end look was a bit challenging in that the design I was working with was very horizontal. Follow me as I tell the wonderful story of this sterling silver custom necklace and the couple who created it.

Sterling Silver Custom Necklace artwork

Kevin and Stacy’s Graphic Image of the Four Places he Wanted on His Wife’s Custom Necklace.

First Challenge: How to Present His Graphic Image so it Would Look Detailed And Feminine

Laser engraving offers the best image duplication on metal, so that was my first choice. My blog post about laser engraving a kiss on a ring.

I had previously made a picture frame in white gold with his and hers birthstones with a laser engraved picture of my client’s wife. Having had a great experience with that project, I felt that laser engraving was the way to go.

Laser engraved picture of a woman's face

Laser Engraved Picture of Dave’s Wife in a Hand Engraved White Gold Frame with Birthstones

Second Challenge: How to Frame the Graphic Uniquely and Avoid a Horizontal Angle Problem

In the previous project I also used hand engraving for decoration. However, for the new Four Places project I wanted to go in a different direction.

The classic choice of outline would have been a rectangular, horizontal box with his graphic displayed within.

I’m not a fan of angular details in women’s necklaces. The minute the necklace centerpiece moves out of perfect center alignment it can look jaggedy and wrong.

I decided on a freeform outline, asymmetric and flowing.

Gold pendant with a molten gold finish - Calla Gold jewelry

Molten Textured Finish with Oxidation on a 14kt Yellow Gold Pendant for Mary

Third Challenge: What Surface and Texture if Any, Would I create to Complement Stacy and Kevin’s Four Places?

Since I was working in sterling silver I knew that one of my choices was a molten look.

I didn’t know how it would look with the laser engraving. I suggested it to Kevin and let him know it was experimental. He said “go for it!”

Using a flame torch and heating the silver till it was bubbly and then letting it cool we worked the surface till we had that random surface-of-the-moon look. The silver was really responsive, reacting with nice highs and lows in its new form.

Sterling Silver Custom Necklace Showing Dark Laser Engraving Detail - Calla Gold Jewelry

Another View of Stacy and Kevin’s Sterling  Silver Custom Necklace Showing the Black Relief Offered by the Laser Engraving

Fourth Challenge: How Would the Laser Engraving Show on an Uneven Surface?

I imagined how it’d look, but with special custom finishes you don’t know how it’ll look till you’re done. One of the characteristics of deeper laser engraving is the darkened metal from the burning of the laser beam.

Some people have me polish it out, but most people want me to leave it on as it helps the design look bolder and sharper. This dark look happens when laser engraving is done with a longer dwell time. With shorter dwell times, a shallower engraving is done that does not leave this darker look.

In order for Kevin’s Four Places to show up well with all the textural detail around it, we used a long dwell time throughout the engraving process. The black outline gave the final look we needed to have Kevin’s image show up well.

Sterling Silver Custom Necklace

The Other Side of Stacy’s Necklace with the Mirror Finish and the Lighter Laser Engraved Image

Fifth Challenge: This Was a Long Distance Design Job, What if She Didn’t Like it?

If my client had been local and wanted tweaks done it’d be easy to do. Since doing any tweaks would be problematic due to distances, I decided to surprise Kevin and Stacy by making the necklace reversible.

On the reverse side, I polished the silver to a bright mirror finish. Then we did a well behaved (short swell time) laser engraved version of Kevin’s Four Places design.

Then it Was Done!

Kevin and Stacy both loved her Sterling silver custom necklace. That made my day. Kevin tells me that Stacy switches sides depending on her mood! I feel so lucky that I got to have a very fun and challenging project that I loved the result of and my clients were happy.

Wedding invitation with graphics for places in their lives

Kevin and Stacy’s Story and the Pictures in Their Design on Their Wedding Invitation

Now the Rest of the Story

The Four Places design is the symbol of Kevin and Stacy’s relationship.

The Four Places in the design are Florida, where they met, Georgia, where they lived together, San Francisco, where they got engaged and Chicago, where they live.

This created image was on their wedding invitations and in the ice sculpture that the parent’s had made for the wedding.

Would You Like a Molten Texture Design?

Now that you know this is an unpredictable and unique textural option, might you consider molten metal for a project of your own?

Ice Sculptures

Ice Sculptures with Kevin and Stacy’s Four Places Imagery and Stacy’s Smiling Face


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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Kevin Mahler
Kevin Mahler
10 years ago


I love the blog post. It looks like a lot of work went into creating Stacy’s amazing necklace. Thank you again for taking on this huge project.


Stacy Mahler
Stacy Mahler
10 years ago

As the receipient of this necklace (and winner of the husband lottery) I wanted to leave a note to let you know how much I absolutely love this beautiful necklace! I thought it was so special even before I knew all of the intricacies of the creation process – now I just appreciate it that much more. I especially like the look of the molten side…very unique and I’ve received so many complements.

Thank you for turning this very special symbol into a beautiful work of art that I get to wear everyday!

Amy Marie Orozco
10 years ago

Calla, I loved reading about your process of designing this necklace. It’s a really interesting project and so romantic, to boot. It’s so nice that a personal jeweler like you can make such meaningful pieces.

Linda Perkins
Linda Perkins
10 years ago

Calla Gold that necklace turned out so beautifully! I liked reading the step by step challenges to a custom design job here. I feel like there isn’t a challenge too big for you!