Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jewellery, gems and skulls

The next stage in my jewellery making career journey is learning to set stones. This doesn’t require much fire (phew) but it does demand strict precision skills. Oh gawd.

Khun Gim found me an oval piece of rhodonite, a pretty pink and black stone to begin with. You measure the circumference with wire and then cut the metal a little bit longer than your wire. I cut it too long so I had to saw some of the extra mm off. Yes, and then I cut too much off and had to send it through the mangle to lengthen it again. Sigh.

Anyway, this ring is the result. Next I’m moving on to this resin (?) disk. This is the crown setting for it. Inside the crown setting we’ll I’ll solder a piece of wire to hold the disc at the top. Last week I asked Khun Gim ‘how do we keep the wire in the right place while I solder?’ Apparently the wire will hold itself because I’ll have cut it with such precision that it will just, erm, fit.

So this is the plan: I have to buy some stones to practice my setting skills. Bangkok is a good place to buy stones. Even though I’ve never been in the market for them you can’t help but see the shops around (and hear of the scams.) I’ve often stopped and peered into windows to look at the rubies, graded, sized and sitting in little see through trays. It’s another world to buy them though. Do a Google of Bangkok tourist scams, and the gem ones are right at the top. It has always struck me that if you’re on holiday and stupid enough to spend hundreds of pounds or dollars on rubies without the help of an independent expert, you’re kind of asking to be ripped off. Okay, this isn’t the way things should be but, sadly, it is the way it is.

Now clearly I’m not after ‘gem’ gems. I’m after something pretty or strikingly coloured and well, cheap. Remember, I might butcher it. K, who does jewellery at the same time as I do it, is a gemologist and she’s confirmed that as a foreigner the prices will rise the second I walk into the shop but she’s given me some advice. She’s advised me to reverse my normal approach; instead of ‘how much is that one?’ I should ask ‘what can I get for a 500 baht?’ (£10ish)

I shall let you know how I get on.

PS: isn't this rhodonite skull just divine? I love how his stylised look makes him appear to be wearing glasses. I want... (Source)


Anonymous said...

I love the skull too. I only just read about the scam last week, we were looking at updating my wedding bands for our 10th anniversary ....

Jenny Beattie said...

That's so weird. I was on your blog commenting when I got your comment email from blogger!

You can still do it; just don't do it without help. I had a ring made in the early days with the help of two gemologist friends. Quite a lot of people do the GIA gemologist training here...

Ragged Thread Cartographer said...

First skull I've ever seen that looks benign! Rhodonite ring is pretty impressive. x