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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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

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.

Fossils in Silver

Jurassic Coast, Dorset

Jurassic Coast, Dorset

Only a short distance away from my home in the New Forest, you arrive at England’s remarkable Jurassic Coast, the cliffs and beaches of which trace 100 million years of history.  This stunning coastline was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2001, but it is not just its natural beauty that attracts, it is the geology and the amazing number of fossils found in the area that bring so many visitors to walk the coastal paths and explore the cliffs and beaches.

Fossil-hunting here began in Victorian times, often pioneered by men of the church, mostly because they were among the few in society who had the luxury of the time and sufficient wealth to devote to studying fossils.

Often the easiest fossil find, particularly for the novice hunter, is the ammonite, and  it is the beautiful symmetry of the ammonite’s spiral patterns that caught my interest and I began thinking about how I could incorporate this into a piece of jewellery.  Because the spirals of their shells resemble a curled ram’s horn, they are named after the Egyptian god Amon, whose human form had a ram’s head.  When ammonites died, their hard shells fell to the ocean floor and became covered in sediment.  Over time the sediment became compressed and hardened to encase the shell and it is this that is sought by eager beach-combers today.

Ammonite

Ammonite

There are many tales and superstitions surrounding this now long extinct creature; the fervently religious were thought to believe them to be snakes that had been turned to stone by St Patrick.  Carrying one was thought to give protection against the evil eye and sickness.

I have tried to recreate the visual beauty of their perfect spiral staircase form in my designs and this is an outline sketch of an idea for cuff links.

Sketch design for Ammonite-inspired cuff links

Sketch design for Ammonite-inspired cuff links

The concept has rather taken on a life of its own and these initial thoughts have so far extended to two pendant designs with matching earrings and an unusual etched cuff.

So I am now hard at work developing these ideas and bringing the concepts to life – a collection of ‘Fossils in Silver’.

Silver Fossil Cuff Links - Artist's Impression

Silver Fossil Cuff Links – Artist’s Impression