The first step is to draw the designs. The inspiration can come out of my head from an idea that has occurred to me, or from a cat sitting on the sofa or a flower from the garden or maybe from a customer’s own idea.
Now comes the first tricky bit, translating a few lines on a page into a 3D piece of jewellery. I cut out shapes from sheet, bend and hammer wires and use files to make the shapes. I make my jewellery by constructing; shaping and forming the metal to the design I want. People are amazed at the size of the hammers and files I use!
The next step is to solder the pieces together using a gas blowtorch to melt the solder. A lot of heat is needed to melt precious metal solder – to ensure that they do not contaminate the metal they need to be of the same carat or grade as the metals you are joining. A great deal of patience is needed for this part of the process.
Every piece of jewellery has to be marked by me with my unique mark – in my case it is JT in a diamond shape – before it is sent to the Edinburgh Assay Office for testing and hallmarking. My hallmark enables anyone to tell who made the piece of jewellery. The other marks that are applied by the Assay Office show what the metal is, what the purity is, where is was hallmarked and the year it was made.
Once the piece has been tested, passed and fully hallmarked then I can set the stones. No glue used here! The metal is pushed over to hold the stones in place – this can be nerve wracking when you are setting brittle stones like opal and emeralds. When I make the settings I have to be very accurate to avoid cracking or breaking the stones when setting them.
The final process is polishing. It’s a filthy business! Not the least but romantic but it is lovely to see the real shine of the metal coming through as I attack each piece with 4 inch buffs travelling at 3000 rpm! Great care is needed to avoid polishing away fine details or having the mop grab the piece and throw it across the workshop! And this is the beautiful end result, set with an exquisite pink sapphire and diamonds…