A Sterling Silver Custom Necklace, Molten and Laser Engraved, – A Beloved Project
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
It was such a pleasure to work my way through this project. No one in the world has a necklace like Stacy’s!
Your Very Happy to be Challenged Personal Jeweler,
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!
Stacy, You did totally win the husband lottery! I know how that feels. A happy marriage is the key to a happy life. And an awesome piece of jewelry to remind us of our happy life is just an incredible gift. It makes my day knowing you love your custom necklace and others have noticed it as well and complimented you on it. The molten side was such a nerve-wracking and yet adrenalin pumping fun jeweler chance to take. I wanted to push the texture envelope and go different. I will have your necklace in my heart for my life.… Read more »
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.
Dear Amy Marie,
I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading about the process and the wonderful story of Kevin and Stacy.
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!
That is so nice to hear that you enjoyed reading about the process of designing their very cool necklace!
Your Personal Jeweler,