Inherited Pearl Ring

posted in: Commissions 1

This ring began when a client brought me a row of pearls that she’d inherited. I work with pearls a lot, I trained as pearl stringer after university and so I have a good understanding of them and an appreciation for their qualities.

The main issue with any pearl taken from a row of pearls is that it has a hole drilled all the way through it. This usually makes it unsuitable for setting into rings or studs, as you’re restricted by the visibility of the hole.

However, this client wanted a ring to allow her to keep one of the inherited pearls close to her and after a little thought we came up with a design that would allow this.

Design:

Her saltwater pearls are a wonderfully warm, creamy colour so while the bulk of the ring would be silver I added a touch of 9ct red gold to bring out this warmth. The high sides of the setting are designed to protect the relatively soft pearl which is riveted into the ring using the existing drill hole.

In the end we opted for a fusion of designs A & B, squaring the corners of the box holding the pearl and making the setting entirely out of red gold.

Making:

Soldering the gold setting onto the silver ring was a tricky process. The whole thing needed to be kept square and parallel or the two sides wouldn’t grip the pearl correctly. After a bit of trial and error I rigged something up on a honeycomb soldering block that kept it all in line so that I could solder the two metals together.

A bit of cleaning up followed that before I could polish the ring (to bring out the hammer marks on the silver) and check the fit of the pearl with a piece of wire:

Once it was riveted into place the pearl sat perfectly within the red gold ‘box’ setting and balanced the ring nicely. It’s a neat, geometric solution to using a pearl from a necklace and I love that I’m allowing inherited jewellery to continue to be used and enjoyed.

Finished Ring:

Silver Tea Infuser

As a serious tea drinker I’ve always liked the idea of making some small pieces of silverware for use with tea. This year I’ve challenged myself to work on a larger scale and have begun by designing a tea infuser:

It’s evolved a little from the original biro sketch, which I doodled at the end of last year. Most notably I’ve changed the ‘handle’ to make it a better match for my Riverside collection.

The bowl of the teaball is spun from silver sheet before returning to the workshop for me to make and fit the internal mechanism. I opted with a handmade screw thread fitting here but will probably modify that on future infusers to use a lighter method of closure!

One of the most challenging aspects was drilling the holes in the bowl. Marking out an exact pattern is difficult around a curved surface and I was very aware of the risk of breaking a drill bit in the silver. I marked the holes from the center point outwards, placing them in concentric circles and spacing them as evenly as possible:

Once that was all arranged I finished the lid with a leafy handle and polished the infuser to a glossy shine:

 

Tanzanite & Silver Constellation Bangle

This lovely little commission was designed to celebrate a 45th Birthday. It’s patterned with a scattering of 45 tiny blue tanzanites and a myriad of small drill holes:

 

Bracelet Sketch Silver
Bangle Sketch

 

It began as a simple, oval wire bangle which I polished and then matt finished with a heavy, stippled texture. After that I marked out the pattern of the constellation before drilling it and marking the bangle up for setting. A mixture of 1mm, 1.5mm and 2mm tanzanites are set around it, flush with the surface of the silver.

The final piece is a subtle collection of silvery blue shades. The blue of the tanzanites matches beautifully with the soft gleam of the silver:

Silver and tanzanite bangle

 

 

New Jewellery: Riverside

posted in: Jewellery 0

Those who follow me on Instagram will know that I’ve been working on some brand new pieces lately, using the leaf motifs from my Riverside series and building them into larger, more complex pieces.

I’ve also sought out an unusual collection of semi-precious stones to work with and had lots of fun incorporating them into some show pieces for the winter season:

Silver and Ryolite Necklace
Seedling Silver and Ryolite Necklace

Commission: Antique Silver Coin Bracelet

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Every now and again I get asked to make something really traditional. It’s almost always a lot of fun, if a bit of a puzzle sometimes! This customer contacted me regarding her selection of silver threepence pieces, which she wanted made into a bracelet. It needed to be in the traditional, scaled,style, linked together using over 200 tiny silver jump rings.

I’ve never worked with antique silver before but these coins are sterling (they’re all dated between 1911 and 1919) they behaved just as any other sterling would. They soldered easily and neatly using standard silver solders.

I added two rings to each coin before stringing them together into the finished pattern. I then soldered closed each ring along the chain (for added security when it’s worn). Finally I made a little bridge of chain to connect the catch to the bracelet.

The finished piece moves beautifully through your hands, fully articulated by all of the little links. It’s a great little tactile piece of wearable history.

New Stockist: John Lewis Birmingham

posted in: Events 0

This week sees the opening of the new John Lewis store in central Birmingham, right above the remodeled New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre.

It’s not normally the kind of thing that I’d blog about (despite the architectural interest of the building) but John Lewis have done something pretty special with this store. Working in conjunction with local business groups they’ve set aside space in the Jewellery Department for a Jewellery Quarter concession of sorts, featuring the work of six Jewellery Quarter makers.

I was selected to take part earlier in the year and have had to keep pretty quiet about it until now but, with the store finished and opening tomorrow here are a few images from last night’s preview:

They’ll be selling my Flotsam and Estuary ranges, from now until after Christmas.

Commission: River Ring in Silver & Topaz

Last week I finished off this Eternity Ring, a commission inspired by the Braided River ring that I made a couple of months ago. It’s a silver wedding anniversary gift and is designed to sit alongside an existing topaz engagement ring.

It needed to have a slightly simpler feel to it than the original ring so I did a few sketches and we eventually settled on just the two ‘waves’ but added a more obvious line of stones – to evoke the feel of a traditional Eternity Ring.

Topaz and Silver Ring Sketches

Putting it together required some tricky soldering to line up and fix the settings (which sit in a wave, not easy to mark out):

Making  Topaz and Silver Eternity Ring by Becca Williams

and then to add the wires which made up the wave outlines:Making  Topaz and Silver Eternity Ring by Becca Williams 2

Topaz and Silver Eternity Ring by Becca Williams

After a couple of tense moments under the flame I polished it up to a glossy shine and set it with a single sky blue topaz and four clear, white topaz.

The final result looks pretty special:

Eternity Ring Blue & White Topaz by Becca WilliamsEternity Ring Blue & White Topaz by Becca Williams 2

Commission: ‘Braided River’ Silver & Topaz Ring

posted in: Commissions 0

I love an original commission and the brief for this one was sent to me by a hydrologist (who studies water and is especially fond of rivers). She wanted to replace her engagement ring and use the blue topaz that had originally been in it in something new.

She sent me some images of braided rivers, to see what I could come up with and I couldn’t have been happier! I find aerial landscape photography particularly fascinating plus, way back in sixth form I did one of my first ever jewellery design projects focusing on rivers!

A while spent playing around with the idea of interwoven tributaries eventually formed into this:

Silver Topaz Ring Design drawings

A wire wrapped silver band where the strands of silver flow around and under the setting like a river ’round an island.

Here’s how this tricky bit of soldering came together:

making the silver and topaz braided river ring Making Silver and Topaz Braided River Ring Collage 2sm Becca Williams Jewellery

And finished up in a band that made a really personal new ring that my customer loved:

silver and topaz braided river engagement ring

New Work: Birds

The late winter/early spring is always a quiet time for me. In a good way.

This year my first selling show will be in May so I’ve had the luxury of a lot of time to work out some of the ideas that I’ve been carrying around for a while. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen a few of these but, now that I feel like all the elements that I’ve been making are coming together I wanted to post everything in one place:

There are birds and leaves and little tapered silver twigs for them all to sit on … they’ll be evolving into final pieces over the next few weeks so keep a weather eye on instagram to see how things are going.

Exploring: The Mineral Galleries

posted in: Exploring 0

Yesterday I went down to London, mainly to go to a lecture but also, as I was in the neighbourhood, to spend the day at the Natural History Museum, somewhere that I’ve never really lingered very much.

Mineral Galleries, Natural History Museum

I’m so glad that I did. It’s treasure trove of fascinating exhibits and, though I didn’t find as many fossils as I’d hoped for on display I did discover the Mineral Galleries, up in the roof, which yielded an astounding array of colourful textures and surfaces:

mineral Samples, Natural History Museum sm

Some of these macro shots are almost reminiscent of a coral reef, with the minerals forming either beautifully organic structures or some really rather mathematical constructs, all effortlessly intersecting angles and sharp lines.

Plus, tucked away up there, I found two whole cases of silver mineral samples, some of which reminded me very much of those that I saw in Edinburgh, in January, all long, coiling wires that occurred naturally as the silver formed:

Silver Mineral Samples, Natural History Museum, London 2015

The two samples on the plinth are particularly large examples of these natural wires and are still attached to the rocks upon which they grew. They were found in Norway in 1834 and 1886 respectively, they hail from the Kongsberg Silver mines and are now housed in the Museum’s Vault exhibition space.

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