I always feel especially happy when I’m asked by a friend to create a bespoke piece of jewellery. On this occasion, it was even more special as it was to be a gift commissioned in celebration of a 40th birthday and the design had to reflect both the birth date and, more importantly, the significance and value of a long-standing friendship.
I had suggested something along the lines of a Celtic Claddagh, representing love, friendship and loyalty, but my friend had a very definite (and very different) idea in mind. She told me that the birthday girl was fond of large, bold pieces of jewellery. After some research, she had decided upon a Maori Friendship Twist as the perfect solution.
The single twist is a Maori tribal symbol and is often given and worn as a token of love and eternal friendship. As we also wanted to represent the November birth stone (in this case Topaz), I thought I’d add a twist of my own to the Twist (so to speak) and came up with this design:
Adding the wave effect ‘arms’ to the centre of the design presented me with the ideal location in which to set the beautiful Swiss Blue Topaz stone I had bought to compliment this piece.
So, with the design parameters all now met, it was time to set to work.
I started by converting the design sketch into a black and white image that I could apply to thick silver sheet using transfer paper. My choice of method was influenced by the fact that I wanted to create a 3D effect where the twist overlaps to form the bail loop. Rather than tracing out the flat design and then using my piercing saw and files to achieve the desired grooves in the metal, I opted for etching the shape onto the silver, thereby allowing the acid to eat away the metal to create the effect I wanted.
Once the acid had completed its work, you can see below the initial stages where the shape has been pierced out of the metal and the initial filing completed:
The next task was to fabricate the bezel setting for the stone and then solder that into place between the ‘arms’ which would appear to hold the gemstone at the centre of the pendant. A circular bail of half-round wire was then made and attached to the bail loop.
After the usual processes for finishing with emery paper, Tripoli and Rouge polish, the stone could be securely set within the bezel. I am very pleased with the result and am happy to say that so was the lucky birthday girl!