In 2019 our award-winning La Floraliere became a part of a fantastic collection of fabulous gemstones, amazing mineral specimens and award-winning jewelry known as Somewhere In The Rainbow (SITR). A private collection assembled over more than a decade, this treasure trove is now on display at the University of Arizona’s new Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
This February, Jack and I attended the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show where the highlight for us was visiting the museum. We were met there by the lovely Shelly Sargent, the collection manager of SITR, whose enthusiasm for and knowledge of gem and jewelry artists is amazing. There was the obligatory photo-op of me and La Floraliere, like a proud parent, and a tour of some of the most spectacular works to inspire and awe. The wood fairy is in good company.
The museum is located in downtown Tucson in the historic Pima County Courthouse. It is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Gemandmineralmuseum.arizona.edu
One of my personal favorite stones is moonstone. Specifically blue moonstone. The stones are colorless but have a blue sheen that appears to float and move inside the stone. Often there are other secondary colors present like aqua green and yellow.
There is actually a gemological term for that floating sheen: it’s called Adularescence. The term originated with a city in Switzerland, Mt. Adualr (now St. Gotthard), that was one of the first sources of fine-quality moonstone. In fact, this type of moonstone was once called “adularia”.
Technically, adularescence is an optical phenomenon not a property of the stone itself. It only exists in the presence of light. The internal structure of blue moonstones called lamellae produce light scattering and interference. And it’s magical.
Of course what prompted this post was a necklace I just finished for a wonderful friend who loves moonstone as much I do. It features not only blue moonstone cabochons but a gorgeous strand of graduated blue moonstone beads.
I was sent a photo of a Victorian Revival bracelet along with the note: “rubies & little gold balls you do”. This is how our most recent wedding band design began. It ended adorning the hand of a lovely lady we’ve been lucky enough to know for many years now.
The construction of a granulated ring is all about layers. You can see the different elements and how they come together to create this one of a kind ring.
My previous blog post outlined the basics of our custom design process. This time I have documented a majority of the steps involved in creating a custom piece from the initial design phase through to the finished piece.
Early this summer I was commissioned to design a significant pendant using our client’s fantasy-cut amethyst by gem cutter Barry Bridgestock. What makes a significant piece? Well besides the scale of the pendant, I incorporated a number of more involved construction techniques. The pendant incorporates not only 22kt gold granules but platinum granules into the design. The body of the pendant is comprised of several separate elements and I have accent stones set into some of the granules as well. Continue reading “Step by step: Custom Pendant Video”
Do you ever look in your jewelry box and think “I really love that stone, but the setting is so <fill in decade or name of person the piece was inherited from here> !” In other words, do you hold on to a particular piece of jewelry for a variety of reasons, but it languishes unworn in a dark drawer because it isn’t really you?
One of the most common requests we get here at Zaffiro is to re-imagine and re-invent Great Aunt Millie’s brooch to fit with your personal style today. How does it work? What is the process? It all starts with a brainstorming meeting. Continue reading “Evolution of a Custom Design”
I was profoundly saddened to read yesterday morning that one of the revered masters of goldsmithing and my personal hero, John Paul Miller died over the weekend. He was single-handedly responsible for revitalizing the ancient art of granulation in the 20th Century. Not only has he left behind an astounding body of work, he passed on his knowledge by teaching for over 40 years at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His contributions and innovations to this lost (at the time) art form are incalculable to the generations of goldsmiths that have come after him. Continue reading “In Memoriam: John Paul Miller 1918-2013”
The caller i.d. read Rio Grande when the phone rang last Thursday and I immediately felt a little flutter of anticipation. I didn’t have anything on order with the company, but I knew that it was about time for the finalists for the 2013 Saul Bell award to be announced. I hadn’t created anything in the past couple of years that I felt was worthy of submission until this summer when I had the opportunity to design my most complex piece to date. Continue reading “Zaffiro is a finalist for the 2013 Saul Bell award”
The elegant fern curl – every spring here in my garden the graceful unfurling of the new ferns begin. They start as a tight spiral close to the ground and slowly uncurl before spreading into a leafy frond. I only have a small collection (so far) as my shade garden is limited: I have two varieties of Japanese painted fern, a maidenhair fern and a hardy common variety that you see everywhere here along shady roadsides. Continue reading “Fern Curl as Inspiration & Ingredient”
Contrary to what you might think, Jack and I do not spend all our creative time huddled over jewelry projects, myopically focused on items that measure less than 10 millimeters in length. Occasionally we gotta work big. Really big. And that means taking the torch outside.
This project was one of the final extensions of a copper trellis system that we began back in 2004. The first part was a horizontal support system underneath the eaves that ran across the entire south and east sides of the porch and two decorative vertical sculptural trellises on two of the pillars for a wistaria vine. As the wistaria grew (and grew and grew and grew) we realized we needed to extend the supports around to the west side of the house where we could then add a climbing rose bush trellis designed to fit into the space between the eaves and the top of porch railing. Continue reading “Zaffiro takes the torch outside”
We’ve been invited to show in this year’s Exhibition in Print, Metalsmith magazine’s annual issue that features the work of both national and international artists in a special format, different from the publication’s regular columns and articles. We’ve never submitted anything for consideration before (mostly because the EIP is known for selecting very high concept pieces, which is not our domain), but when I saw that this year’s theme is “Gothic” and read the prospectus, it resonated with me: Continue reading “Metalsmith’s 2012 Exhibition in Print”
This spring I had the opportunity to be a judge for an upcoming fine art and craft show. For those of you who don’t know about the craft show process, let me explain a few things first.
Approximately six to eight months prior to a show, an application period opens. There is a prospectus usually containing information about the show and the application process (this is all done online of course). Usually, a show requires four to five images, a booth image and an artist statement all for a small fee. Sounds simple, huh? Welcome to the byzantine and mysterious world of juried craft shows… Continue reading “Jurying: Judging my fellow artists- a view from the other side”
The first book in Lark’s redesigned 500 series, Showcase 500 Rings by Marthe Le Van, curated by Bruce Metcalf, releases officially in May, and Amazon has posted an extensive ‘Look Inside’ preview.
Zaffiro is pleased to be included in this comprehensive look at the ring- everything from high concept pieces to our interpretation of a very ancient form of the craft. Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ covers approximately the first quarter of the book. We’re included much later on (page 332, to be exact), but you can certainly get a feel for the wide range of works presented. Continue reading “Preview the new Showcase 500 Rings book”