Thursday, December 15, 2011

rutilated quartz ring for Christmas!

Only nine days left for this little elf to get through his list of sparkly things to make. I am happy to report that all projects are on track! I haven't gotten to work on my rutilated quartz ring as much as I would have liked though. I know, poor me, too busy to work on the project for the blog... will take that problem all day long!
I think that I should get a chance to finish it up before the holidays so if you have your eye on it I can wrap it up for you to put under the tree for someone special,  maybe even for someone like yourself! I'll post a pic when it's done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rutilated quartz ring

It's November! While many of us will be busy growing moustaches... it's never too early to think about Christmas shopping. If you are the type that is very organized then you will be in to see me in the next couple if weeks to order your custom sparkly thing... and I will have it ready for you to wrap and put under the tree.
If you are more like me, leaning towards the not as organized shopper then you might be in my shop with only a couple weeks until christmas. Certainly not a last minute shopper, but a bit too late to get that custom project started in time for the holidays.
Not to fear. I have been thinking of you and I am putting together a couple of spectacular pendants and rings that will be ready to go. This one is a very unique rutilated quartz set in 18k yellow gold with pave set diamonds. I'll post a picture next week when it's finished!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fruit salad anyone

One of the things that I love is to research an era or specific style and to do a modern interpretation. I have made pieces with inspiration from the Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, and the Art nouveau styles.
For this necklace and earring set I was inspired by Cartier's Tutti Frutti collection from the early 1900's. They made necklaces for royalty and used platinum, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. The results were spectacular!
For my necklace I am starting with a suite of 5 matching pear shape Spessartite garnets from madagascar. Then pairing them with Ruby cabochons and Peridot accents. I think I will do pave set diamonds and hand engraving on the discs that complete the necklace at the back. The spacing needs work but I like it so far.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recent work

Late September and early October for us at the studio is a bit quieter then the rest of the year. The summers wedding band orders are tapering off and  and it gives us a chance to work on some engagement rings and some just for sun projects like cocktail rings and pendants...
These first two rings show a great contrast in style. The first is sleek, clean and modern. While the second gives a nod to both Deco and art nouveau styles. I can't decide which I like more... I am just happy that I got to make them both!

I love this engagement ring and thought I should share it with you. It has great lines and will look even sparklier when paired with it's pave set wedding band... Who wouldn't say yes to this!
Lastly is this spectacular mens signet/occasional ring. It is 18k yellow gold with diamonds and black sapphires and was custom made for one of our best customers in Montreal. Thanks a million M&JP!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Well it's fall and that means two things... Steelers football is back and wedding band season is almost in the books. And I can happily report that we are seeing great success on both fronts... Go Steelers!
I want to thank all the amazing brides and grooms that we have had the honour of making rings for so far this year. I have the best customers!
With that in mind I want to show off this great ring that we recently made. Steve commissioned this 18k white gold, diamond and ruby, hand engraved day of the dead ring for his wife Patty. It was great fun to research and design, thanks Steve!
I also have a couple of great new speculative projects that I am starting and hope to have ready for Christmas so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recent rings

It has been a while since my last post. I had the best laid plans... but life and rings... many, many rings got in the way! We are in the thick of wedding band season with lots of happy couples saying "I do". We have been trying our best to take photos when possible, but the days seem to fly by, I can't believe the year is half over. I wanted to share a few projects from the last couple months. This one is an anniversary ring. It was a re-imagining of three different rings all taken apart and built into one spectacular ring!
This one is sleek and modern but the channel set princess cut diamonds give it a hint of deco flare.
This one is 1940's movie star all the way! I love the contrast of the fancy intense pink sapphire and the cool icy pave diamonds.
This custom engagement ring re-design, with it's pave set split shank and pave halo under gallery is one of my recent favorites. The ring is what is known as a "5 tabler"... at a restaurant you can see it from 5 tables away!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mmmmm chocolate

Todays stop on my tour of the Distillery is Soma Chocolates. Soma is an artisanal chocolate maker, handcrafting their chocolates in small batches. This allows them to maintain a very high level of quality and the freedom to make some quirky and creative combinations, chocolate covered cornuts anyone! (they are delicious!)
I am pretty sure I have tried almost everything in the shop and can tell you that there are virtually no wrong turns. On my personal favourite list are the Amaretti cookies, the almond clusters, and the brown butter truffle!
But the jewel in the crown, their Mona Lisa, has to be the Mayan hot chocolate, also known as the "drink of the gods" But to compare this to "hot chocolate" is an insult. This is a elixir of molten chocolate, with a hint of spice and undertones of ginger, vanilla, and orange. It's complex and simple at the same time. It's not uncommon to see people unabashedly licking the inside of the cup... giving serious thought to getting another. I try to limit my exposure, it can be hazardous to the waistline working 100 ft from such pure, uncut awesomeness!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Move over diamond, make room for sapphire

Over the last few months, since the engagement of William and Kate was announced, I've been seeing increased interest in sapphire engagement rings (just see my last two blog posts).

While sapphire has always been a popular engagement ring choice, and one of my personal favourites (I proposed to my wife with a sapphire engagement ring), diamond has been the more traditional stone used over the last few decades. However, jewellers saw an increase in sapphire interest when Charles and Diana got engaged in '81, and we're seeing that spike in interest again now that Kate Middleton is wearing the sapphire ring.  
Sapphires are an excellent choice for engagement rings for many reasons, they refract light very well making them sparkly, and they have a Mohs hardness of 9 (, making them very tough and resistant to breaking, chipping and scratching.
Sapphires also come in many different colours, hues and saturations, with the most spectacular being blue, pink and yellow. While natural coloured diamonds are also found, they are roughly 100 times the price of a similar sized sapphire. And when compared to white diamonds sapphires cost about 75% less. This allows a customer to save a bit of money or get a bigger stone... often they decide to do a bit of both!
And if you still like the idea of having diamonds as part of your engagement ring, not to worry, sapphires look amazing when paired with white diamond accents. Just check out some of the pictures of sapphire rings that I have made over the last couple of months. Gorgeous... if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sapphire and diamond engagement ring

It's taken a bit of doing but I have finally finished the sapphire ring. I have to confess that I got caught up in making it and didn't document the process for you. I finished it and pulled a Homer Simpson... D'oh! One of my favourite things about my job is that I can lose entire afternoons working on a piece. I will finish lunch, get back to work and then look up and it's 5:00... I promise to do a better job for you next time and remember to take pictures! I have a couple of really great stones that I just got from the dealer so stay tuned for some cool projects coming up. I also want to continue my tour of the Distillery with my next stop being Soma. Mmmm Chocolate...

Friday, March 25, 2011

sapphire cocktail ring

I love covert projects. I am very good at playing dumb so we are batting a thousand in the not giving away surprises department! This is a ring commissioned by my great customer Mark for his amazing wife Christa. It's a 3.5 ct reddish-pinkish-orange sapphire. It's one of the most unusual shades I have ever seen. We made it into this bold cocktail ring in 18k yellow gold. Spectacular, thanks Mark!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Diamonds... and coffee?

This week I wanted to post another entry to my "Distillery must see" list. As we all know, every visit to the Distillery should start in my studio where you should come and get decked out in sparkly things... But your next stop might be for a club sandwich at Brick Street, or if you're not ready for lunch and more in a coffee mood, a stop at Balzac's Coffee - the perfect place to grab a latte, cappuccino or macchiato and a little something sweet. Balzac's in the Distillery is by far the coolest coffee shop I have ever been in, with atmosphere to spare, and features micro roasted fairtrade coffee beans.

Originally from Stratford, Balzac's was one of the Distillery districts first tenants and helped to set the tone for the quality and character that businesses in the district have become known for. It helped sell me on setting up shop here 8 years ago when construction was in full swing and the district was still an unknown, out of the way spot.
Having sampled their wares some 2500 times, I would consider myself an expert... or addict! Either way, my morning coffee from Balzac's is a small pleasure that enriches my life. So next time you are in the Distillery seeing me for that special project, grab a great coffee afterwards and see for yourself...

Friday, March 4, 2011

custom process

This week I thought I would discuss the custom design process I have developed and use to work with clients from first visit to completed piece. Custom design is a lot of fun, and working with each client to develop a style and design that will reflect both their taste and my design esthetic is just the kind of challenge I love. Through meetings, sketches, renderings and prototypes, we work through the process until both our visions for the piece are realized. Each item of custom-designed jewellery is a true collaboration and unique in its own way. The process usually begins with the client reviewing my portfolio and looking at pieces in my display cases. We'll then have a conversation about their favourites, and what is attracting them to these pieces. From these conversations, I can get a pretty good feel for where the design is going. The next step is selecting the gems. In this example, sapphire and diamonds!
Once the gems have been chosen, I'll create a series of quick concept sketches so the client can see 5 to 6 variations on the theme, and start narrowing down the design possibilities. We then work to eliminate the designs until we get down to the one the client likes best.
Once we have chosen our top design we proceed to rendering. This is done on the computer and a 3-D model is made so the client can see the piece in detail, and from many angles.
From here, the hope is that we have gotten the design close, maybe even perfect. If not, then this is the stage where we can easily make modifications to the design and really refine it to the clients taste.
We keep working on the rendering until the client loves it and then we proceed to prototyping... But that's for next week! Stay tuned as we will cover prototyping, casting, grinding and polishing, and then setting the stones...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rutilated quartz

Things are hopping down at the studio with lots of interesting custom projects coming through. We are starting to see the wedding band season take off already, a little earlier than usual. Getting an early start on things can only be good!
This pendant is one I have been working on (on and off) for a while. With all the custom work we do, it can be challenging to find a block of time to work on speculative pieces like this. I usually get an hour here or there, sometimes weeks apart. But when it's finished, I get to put it in the case and see/ hear what people think. It can be quite satisfying.
This pendant is made of 18k white gold, with pavé set diamonds. The center stone is rutilated quartz. It's a clear quartz crystal that has Titanium Dioxide inclusions called "rutile needles." This one also has some cloud crystal inclusions that give it a real landscape quality, making it a real conversation piece!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jewellery maintenance

This week I want to talk about maintaining your jewellery. Every custom piece of jewellery that I make is built to last. I use a slightly heavier gauge of metal in my work and it not only gives the piece a very luxurious feel, but also makes the rings more durable and gives them more longevity. I offer free, yearly maintenance on every piece that I make. What this allows me to do is clean the gems and buff out any scratches, it also allows me to check for any wear and tear issues that could be coming up because of lifestyle or other factors. I find that a little preventative maintenance goes further than trying to solve problems after they happen.
A lot of my clients find that it's a nice anniversary tradition. They come down for a visit, drop off their rings, grab a coffee or lunch in the Distillery and then pick them up 20-30 minutes later all sparkly and polished. I love it as I get to see all the rings that I have made over the years come back, and I get to re-connect with clients and chat. The pictures to the left are of a set that I made a couple of years ago that recently came back for maintenance. With the minor scratches gone and a little clean for the diamond they look as good as the day they said
"I do"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Distillery must see

For those of you who have never visited my studio, I am located in Toronto's Historic Distillery District - a collection of old Victorian buildings once home of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, turned into a funky collection of shops, galleries, and restaurants. I consider myself very lucky to work in such an inspirational place, full of artists and creative people. When it first opened in 2003 there was a bit of a touristy feel to the district, but over the last couple of years the area has really come into its own, settling in and starting to feel like a community. With recent additions of new condominiums, there are more and more people calling the Distillery home, helping to foster the neighbourhood feeling.

There is also construction going on right across the street, where they are building the Athlete's Village for the Pan Am Games that Toronto is hosting in 2015. I think the plan after the games is to retrofit the buildings into condos. What that means for me, is that the city and province are fast-tracking a plan to develop the area around the distillery, and that's great news as it will bring more people, and better transit to the area, which is currently most easily accessible by car...

So that's the back-story, but my real intention with this post, and in some future posts, is to tell you about some of my favourite places and things that can be found in the Distillery. Or to put it a different way, the 3-4 things a person should do to have a great Distillery experience. Your first stop should be my studio of course, where you need to come in and get decked out in diamonds and sapphires, I mean positively dripping with gems... once you've done that, your ready for lunch!
Next stop is the Brick Street Bakery for the best sandwich ever made - the "Brick Street Club." Let me set the scene... Warm, marinated chicken breast, thick sliced bacon, chipotle mayo with a hint of spice to it, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on Brick Street's very own chibata buns... This sandwich is so good, I get a little sad when I'm half-way through and I know that it's almost over. Brick Street has a board full of sandwiches (along with breads and sweets) and there are a few close seconds - the Lamb Kofta, and the Boxing Day Sandwiches are amazing in their own right... but the Club goes to eleven on my scale of ten!!!