One of the things we have always been wondering about in designing rings is the point at which you draw the line between showing off the purity of the gemstone, having a clean contemporary shape, and adding embellishment or ornament to a piece to add character or atmosphere.The Embrace series gives us an opportunity to explore these ideas and return to common themes in very different pieces of jewellery. We like the way that they can look quite different from each other, but over time really form a body of work, pushing ideas of what works and what is possible.Some of these have been commissioned by our customers while others have begun purely as an exercise on our part and then found their owners afterwards. One thing they have in common is that they are usually a little more extravagant than the more regular commissions that we receive from people.Over the last 10 years we have made quite a few sets in this series and we will post the others as time goes by.With this set we wanted to have a centre stone that stood on its own and could be worn separately. The setting for this is very minimal and we really wanted the metal work to disappear and take a back seat to the gem itself. The idea then was that you would have other elements that could be worn in combination to further enhance, embellish or dress the ring up for how flamboyant you wanted to be on any particular occasion.The centre ring has a concave cut Citrine set in 18kt yellow gold. The concave faceting is really sumptuous and turns what would have been quite an ordinary stone into something really impressive, the way that it throws back so much light and colour.
The first piece we decided on was a collar to surround some of the space around the gemstone. Starting with the idea of a collar literally we were looking for something iconic that jumped out at us straightaway, it could have been Elvis in a Vegas jumpsuit, or an Elizabethan ruff, but once we considered Ming The Merciless from Flash Gordon there was no escaping it. We made this in 18kt white gold and set it with diamonds to contrast against the minimal colour of the centre piece.
The next stage was we wanted to have an alternative to the Ming collar, something that would be both more decorative and provide an overall more subdued piece. For this we looked at indian woodblock patterns from fabric printing. We remembered seeing some very interesting wood blocks in the Chester Beatty museum here in Dublin and this kicked off the design for this ring.
We like the way that it is quite detailed, but tucks in very neatly around the gemstone and peeps out, breaking the outline of the piece as you wear it.
And finally we wanted to make something that could be worn with either combination. We wanted it to provide an accent that would set the rest of the piece off, both in shape and colour. At first we weren't entirely sure what this might be. eventually we arrived at the thought, what if it was a line of colour, what if it actually raised and formed an arc across the whole thing as it sits on your hand.
So we cam to the line of Rubies set in 18kt yellow gold.
I have watched from afar at events where I have been at where this piece has been worn by it's now owner, and it is interesting to see the reaction that it gets. I have seen it journey around a room as each person took their turn to try it on, each person going through the same process of discovering and deciphering how the rings fit together, and then trying each combination to decide on their favourite, before passing it on to the next person beside them.
When we made this first we genuinely wondered if we had made it too high to be feasibly wearable. We have been pleasantly surprised by peoples willingness to go with it so enthusiastically.
90% of the pieces we make are practical and wearable as everyday jewellery, so it is nice every now and again to stretch out with a piece like this. As you will see in a future post, we pushed this further with subsequent rings. We have still to find the point at which people are unwilling to wear something fantastic.
Most of this formed itself on paper and sketches before we got anywhere near actually forming the metal itself. In future posts we'll try to scan or include bits of the background material to show you bits of the inspiration behind the work, or how it may have changed and developed from drawing to finished piece.
So there you go. Post number 1. If there is anything you want to ask or add please feel free to post comments or email questions. We are always happy to receive feedback and answer questions.