Infinite Possibilities

Infinity Fossil Pendant

Infinity Fossil Pendant in Sterling Silver

Another variation on the ‘Fossils in Silver’ theme, this time making use of the perfect symmetry created by the seamless  joining of two ammonite fossils to create a representation of a figure of eight on its side, which is customarily associated with ‘Infinity’. This symbol might also be used to depict the ‘ouroboros’, the alchemical sigil designating the cyclical nature and endlessness of all things.

This is a solid sterling silver piece which is both bold and beautiful. It is enhanced by a black silk necklet which has been threaded and knotted through the pendant’s integral bail loop.  A stunning complement to that little black cocktail dress now that we’re racing headlong towards the Christmas party season … grab it while you can!

Infinity Fossil Pendant in Sterling Silver

Infinity Fossil Pendant

Infinity Fossil Pendant in Sterling Silver

Infinity Fossil Pendant 

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The Devil’s in the Detail

Celtic Knotwork Pendant, hand-pierced from Sterling Silver - work in progress

Still in its rough, unfinished state, a Celtic knotwork pendant, hand-pierced from sterling silver

I’m certainly not the greatest wielder of a saw frame in the world, but I’m also not easily discouraged by a piece of work that involves a good deal of piercing; I break my fair share of saw blades in the process, but doesn’t everyone?

On the other hand, I did quake slightly at the thought of making this commissioned pendant – not so fearful of the actual piercing, but rather in the amount of careful finishing necessary to bring all those cut edges from their initial rough state (despite my prudent choice of a fine-toothed blade for the job) to a smooth and highly polished finish – they say the devil’s in the detail and this piece is certainly proving to be solid proof of the truth in that old adage.

My client wanted quite an intricate pattern for the knotwork, but didn’t want the piece to be too large.  Thus, this piece is no more than 2.5 cm in diameter – you can see below the starting point with the design etched (not a necessary step to transfer the design, but I find it useful) onto the silver sheet before any drilling or piercing commenced:

Celtic knotwork design etched on silver

Celtic knotwork design etched on silver

Once I had the design in place, the next step was to identify and mark which areas were to be removed with the saw and then, using a centre punch, mark out a seat for the drill bit in each area.  After drilling all the holes needed to give access to the saw blade, I set about the task of carefully threading the saw blade through the metal, getting it up to tension in the frame and then piercing out as accurately as possible the design from the metal.

Pierced design completed - finishing yet to begin!

Pierced design completed; finishing process yet to begin …

Now begins the task I am least looking forward to; the painstaking work of filing, emerying and polishing each and every nook and cranny to get as perfect a finish on the piece as I am able.  As you will see from the first image above, the pendant has been domed slightly and this will help access some of the smaller, more awkward areas as the doming process stretches the metal and opens up the gaps in the design a little.  Lastly I’ll make a chunky bail out of silver wire and solder that into place.

I can foresee quite a few hours of rather tedious work ahead before I can present the finished piece …

Ancient Sea Creatures Immortalised in Silver

The 'Fossils in Silver' Pendant Collection

The ‘Fossils in Silver’ Pendant Collection

My collection of ‘Fossils in Silver’ continues to grow.  This group of pendants all developed out of the original idea for the fossil cufflinks which started me down this particular design path.

Having seen how well the shape worked when dapped using a doming block, I started playing with ideas for creating a pendant.  My first attempt simply took the same outline as the cufflinks, enlarged it slightly, formed it with block and punch to give it greater structure and depth, and finally adding a bead bail to make a simple but effective everyday wear pendant.

'Fossils in Silver' Plain Sterling Silver Pendant

‘Fossils in Silver’ Plain Sterling Silver Pendant

From there it was a simple jump to consider adding a gemstone.  I repeated the small pendant design, but this time enhanced it by setting a 4mm Sky Blue Topaz gemstone into a bezel placed at the heart of the silver fossil.

'Fossils in Silver' Pendant set with sky blue topaz

‘Fossils in Silver’ Pendant set with Sky Blue Topaz

Finally, I decided to ‘go large’!  The last pendant in the set is, I think, the most stunning.  It follows the basic pattern of the others but is much bolder.  It is embellished with a large, beautifully deep coloured London Blue Topaz gemstone.  I have also pierced out a shaped integral bail and the whole piece is set off to perfection with a knotted 1.5 mm thick Spiga (plaited) sterling silver chain.

I really love the overall effect of this piece – I have no doubt that it will get noticed!

'Fossils in Silver' Pendant set with London Blue Topaz

‘Fossils in Silver’ Pendant set with London Blue Topaz

Of Silver and Ice

'Fossils in Silver' Pendant with Ice Blue Topaz

‘Fossils in Silver’ Pendant with Ice Blue Topaz

Having achieved a more three dimensional effect by shaping and doming the etched fossil shapes to make the cufflinks, I wanted to play around a little bit and see what other pieces this design could work with.

Having etched and pierced out the spiral fossil design in two sizes, I thought I’d start with the small piece (a little more tricky to work with as the detail is finer, but less to lose if all goes awry) and adapt the design into a pendant. Although I now know it works and will no doubt be tempted to make a plain silver version, I wanted to enhance this piece with a small gemstone. I chose an ice (or sky) blue topaz, only 4mm in diameter, but which I thought would provide a good focal point.

'Fossils in Silver' - early steps with the pendant

‘Fossils in Silver’ – early steps with the pendant

After some careful preparation of the piece with files and emery paper, I constructed a bezel to fit the stone from bearer wire and drilled holes into the pendant where I wanted to place both the gemstone and the bail. Before marking out and piercing the hole for the bezel, I used a doming block and punch to raise the design into a convex form.

'Fossils in Silver' Pendant - raised design element

‘Fossils in Silver’ Pendant – raised design element

Above you can see the result of forming the metal. Once the bezel was fitted and soldered and the bead bail soldered in place, a thorough cleaning and finishing had to be completed before the stone was set. A final buffing around the bezel to remove any inadvertent setting marks and a good polish and the piece was complete.

The finished pendant is now with the Assay Office for hallmarking and I’m ready to tackle the larger version for which I’ve reserved a stunning 7mm round London blue topaz – can’t wait to see the result!

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils in Silver Cuff Bangle

‘Mosaic of Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle

Following on from last week’s post, here are some images of the finished Cuff Bangle.  I’m delighted with this piece and already contemplating how I can use this stunning etch design on another creation.  Perhaps a necklace with three etched drops of silver each with a few highlights of 24ct gold?  Mmmm, worth a little thought …

Any ideas or suggestions gratefully received!

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

Mosaic of Fossils Cuff Bangle

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cufflinks – The Finished Results

Fossils in Silver Cufflinks

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cufflinks

Finally formed, domed, soldered and polished, these little gems are now finished.  Although intended for gents, I think they are small and pretty enough to work for the female wardrobe too.

They are completely handmade and hand-finished, even the toggle bar has been cut, shaped and finished by hand.  They are unique and unusual and I am really pleased with the way the idea of using fossils as an inspiration for design has worked, particularly now the pieces are all coming together so well in silver.

'Fossils in Silver' Cufflinks - close up

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cufflinks – close up

A Mosaic of Fossils on Silver

Fossils in Silver Cuff Bangle

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle

Having experimented with a pair of stylish cuff links to determine how well the beauty of nature’s design could be incorporated into my work in silver, I was so pleased with the outcome that I just had to continue the theme with additional pieces.

I have had some success in the past with my cuff bangle designs and so I wondered how best I could incorporate the detailed patterns so typical of an ammonite fossil shell onto such a piece. I wanted to capture the delicate tracery of the swirling surface markings in as much detail as possible in an attempt to create a mosaic-like effect on the surface of the silver.

I have found that etching the silver produces pleasing and fairly consistent results, but this time I feel the effect was truly special. You can see below the strip of etched silver shortly after the resist had been removed using a brass brush in warm soapy water.

Sterling Silver Sheet etched with Ammonite Fossil design

Sterling Silver sheet etched with fossil shell design

The etch is so sharp and clear that the seamless pattern of differing sized fossil images across the surface really make an impression and the fine lacework of lines have achieved the mosaic effect I was looking for; I am hopeful that once polished, the finished piece will be quite beautiful.

The next step was to clean up, shape and finish off the sharp edges of the silver sheet by filing, emerying with wet & dry paper and finally polishing before the piece can be shaped to snugly fit the wrist. Below is a close up of the work in progress.

'Fossils in Silver' Cuff Bangle - a work in progress!

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle – a work in progress

Fortunately, the sheet metal had already been carefully annealed before work began and so was still soft enough to easily shape on a bangle mandrel; no further heating was required and some gentle forming with a raw hide mallet rendered the decorated piece of flat sheet into a perfectly beautiful cuff bangle.

'Fossils in Silver' Cuff Bangle

‘Fossils in Silver’ Cuff Bangle

Now all that is left to do is give this a pre-polish with Tripoli, clean off the residue and then give the whole piece a final polish up with jeweller’s rouge to leave it sparkling.  Can’t wait to see the finished piece.