Birthstones, meaning a particular gemstone for each month of the year, have been in existence for many years. Many think that its marketing hype. Many believe deeply that one should adhere to the allotted stone for your birth month. When you start to look, many different stones are assigned to one month or one sign of the zodiac.
I love the notion that a specific gem stone signifies different spiritual powers and could enhances the wearers life in some way.
In this blog I have studied twelve gemstones in particular. Depending on what you read, you may come across other gem stones to represent the month in which you were born.
Garnet: The name is derives from granatum, which means seed, in this instance the red juicy seed of a pomegranate. Garnets are thought to keep travellers safe when travelling.
Amethyst: The name derives from the word methustos which roughly translates to the word intoxicated. Amethysts are thought to aid sobriety.
Aquamarine: The name derives from aqua meaning water and marina meaning sea. Aquamarines are thought to protect those at sea.
Diamond: The name derives from adamas meaning unbreakable, proper or unalterable. Diamonds are thought to be a symbol for ever lasting love and courage.
Emerald: The name derives from the word smaragdos which translates to the word green. Emeralds are thought to symbolise wisdom, growth and patience.
Pearl: The name derives from perle which means leg, it is thought this because of the ham or mutton leg looking shape of the bivalve the pearls can be found in. Pearls are thought to symbolise purity.
Ruby: The name derives from the latin word for red, rubeus. Rubies are thought to protect the wearer from evil and symbolised love and passion.
Peridot: The names derives from the either the Greek word peridona which means giving plenty or the Arabic word faridat meaning gem. Peridots are thought to protect the wearer from nightmares.
Sapphire: The name derives from the Latin word sapphirus meaning blue stone. Sapphires are thought to impart purity and wisdom.
Opal: The name derives from the Greek word opallis which means to see a change in colour. Opals are thought to repel evil and protect the wearers eyesight.
Citrine: The name derives from the French word for lemon, citron. Citrines are thought to stimulate mental power and helps focus.
Turquoise: The name derives from the French for Turkish, Turquois. Turquoise is said to instil good future, success, to relax the mind.
I insist that learning a new craft should involve, learning to design too. This is not an easy skill, but once learnt becomes habitual. This skill cannot happen without input. Its a complex process that isn’t replicated in ‘normal’ life, and is not taught as a linear process. It’s almost learnt by osmosis at Art College.
Everyone’s design process is different. And many do, just think of a design and then make it! Others lean on their skills and process of technique to design. In my own work, I can’t help but be inspired by the area I live in, the countryside that surrounds my studio and the wildlife that lives there.
I recently joined my friend, Artist, Sarah Duffield on a walk around the Knepp Castle Estate, which is going to be featured in one of her paintings for a commission she has as part of Horsham Districts Year of Culture 2019.
I am inspired by a walk like this, but it also confirms ideas too.
During this walk I decided I will extend my local land marks range this year, which already includes Chanctonbury Ring. Adding the old Castle at Knepp, and the remains at Bramber Castle too. Can you think of any other icons I could add?
My working life is divided into making, teaching and selling what I have made.
Teaching goes on all year round apart from a break over the summer and Christmas.
Making tends to go in peaks and troughs throughout the year, but reaches its busiest in the months leading up to winter and in the spring. Previous to big selling seasons there is a lull in sales which gives which gives me the opportunity to reboot, stock take, design new work, try and predict what will sell in the next selling season and then make it. That is where we are now!
My busy selling seasons tend to be May-July and then November -December. All the while working on bespoke pieces and commissions for direct customers.
So the Christmas selling season is so very important to my business, and around 30% of sales are made between November and December.
So where can you find my work between now and Christmas?
From the 31st October my work will be on display in a Pop-up Gallery in Worthing its called The Montague Gallery.
Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm until the end of December (Closed Christmas day and Boxing day)
The Gallery will be displaying the work by 33 local and Sussex based artists. The venue has been painstakingly decorated to achieve a gallery finish which will really set off the work from the Artists and Makers.
Steyning Arts at Christmas which I have participated in from its inaugural year. Its such a great show withwork from local artists and Makers, accompanied with Tea and Cake which is sold to raise precious funds for SAfer (Steyning Area First Emergency Responders) A one stop place to buy all your special gifts!
And last but not least, I will be holding and Open Studio 8th -16th December. 11am to 4pm.
This year is my 20th year in business, and I just though I’d mark this milestone by inviting nine local artists and makers to exhibit in my studio, which was a former stable. It seems quite fitting given the time of year. So, please, do join us in the Stable for a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, and to enjoy the variety of goods on display for purchase.
Call 07866835640 or EMAIL for more details.
Selling direct to the public and via my online shop at Folksy Shop I generally make stock pieces which are one offs or limited edition designs. Quite often a client will want something a little different from the item on sale. It might be that they’d like a different gemstone, a different style of ring or pendant with the same gemstone or something completely different all together.
Artists and Makers are very accustomed to working with their customers or clients to create bespoke pieces of art work. It is something that is done a lot.
The process by which these bespoke pieces are created is called commissioning. Many well know artists only work to commission. Others would never take a commission as it adds an additional pressure to their job.
The process can often be a lengthy one. If you were to commission a painting or sculpture that is going to cost thousands of pounds, you may wish to be involved at every step of the process. This could involve offering a source of inspiration, viewing initial
sketches which must then be signed off on and then being involved with choosing the media, mounts, frames, scale and so on. This can all take place over many months, and in some cases years.
When I’m working with a client its a lot less convoluted.
I’m always open to receiving commissions, but will only work with my own remit and artistic style. I will never work from another jewellers design, but I’m happy to work from a customers original design.
In the images below go through the process using a recent client who has ordered a ring as an example. She was very lucky to receive a gift voucher for her birthday at the beginning of the month, her appointment lasted approximately 45minutes. She had seen my work on my Website and at several open house exhibitions.
My Client knew she wanted a ring. We looked at several examples that I had in stock, and she tried them all on. The first decision was which finger to wear the ring on! Then we narrowed down the design. And then looked at stones. Sometimes a client might choose a gem stone first.
My client whittled down the choice of gem stone between a sugar loaf cut pink tourmaline, and an oval tanzanite.
There are lots of things to consider when choosing a stone for a ring. If the ring is for every day wear the stone must be hard wearing. The design and fit is down to personal preference.
During our conversation I write down notes for myself. These will always include taking the ring size and giving the client an estimate of time, i.e. how long will it take me to fulfil the order. Also an idea of the price. In this case that is top secret!
I can work to all budgets. This may, however, preclude some gemstones or metals.
If you’d like to commission me to create you a piece of jewellery please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The Society was founded by a group of Botanical artists over 30 years ago, and now comprises of over 120 members. As a Society we hold one large exhibition every year, and members are currently working on an pieces for an exhibition which will be held at the Palmengarten in Frankfurt, Germany. We hold an exhibition biennially in Central London too. This calendar is interwoven with regional and themed exhibitions all over the country and abroad.
Applying to be a member of the SBA was something I had never even considered until I had a conversation with my neighbour, Alice Harman SBA. Being a jeweller I assumed that an artist’s society was no place for me.
My plant inspired work has always been botanically inspired, and often very correct as quite often I use the botanical specimen to create the imprint on my silver. I use a technique called roller texturing which I learnt at college, as every jewellery student does. Once I left college this technique became the main focus for my work, I usually concentrated on leaves and flowers.
I offered my work for selection for the Open Exhibition and a few years down the line, my work having been selected every year, I was very pleased to be offered Associate and then Full membership. Over time I have seen the Societies’ exhibitions as a focus to create slightly more challenging and sculptural pieces. These have been very well received both by the Society, and my customers.
I was very honoured to be asked to design and make Sandra Wall-Armitage our President’s leaving present earlier this year. Which was presented to her at the Society’s AGM.
I am constantly looking for new inspiration in my surroundings, a walk in the countryside, around the garden or at the beach is always an excuse for a photo shoot to seek out the next piece of inspiration.
Follow me on Instagram to see what inspiration I’ve found recently!
Over the years jewellers have invented new tools to ‘do the job’. Many items remain the same as they simply can’t be improved upon, and are still similar in design to those that were used in mediaeval times. Some are redesigned and just don’t work as well as the original. Other redesigns were a huge success.
I have a mixture of second hand and ‘new to me’ tools. My Father’s studio was left fully stocked when he immigrated to America, so I was very lucky to inherit several wonderful bits of kit.
These are my favourite pliers designed for bending rings; I assume were second hand when my dad bought them as I believe they were manufactured in the 1940/50s. I also like using a big chunky pair of Maun parallels. (www.maunindustries.com)
I have two rolling mills, one is a Durston (www.durston.co.uk) and the other older set is probably as old as my pliers, not sure of the manufacturer. I assume they are both made in the UK. They made things to last back then. I use the bigger one for doing all my roller texturing work. Its survived being miss treated by students, and having sweets crushed in the cogs by me kids when they were small. The kids are now older enough to know better, but they were banned from entering for a few years.
I have several saw frames, but my two favourites are:
One which I bought new when I was at college, can you believe that’s over twenty years ago? And the other lovely rose wood handled frame which is great for slightly bigger work, which I bought at a car boot sale.
My polishing machine has seen better days, but is still going strong. This was purchased new from Hatton Garden back in the 1070s when my mum was pregnant with me. I’d love to update it, but there’s really no need whilst it hangs in there.
My newest piece of equipment was a birthday gift from my dad. It’s an amazing all singing and dancing setting clamp. Which makes setting a lot easier. It comes off the bench and then is replaced by my peg when not in use so is multifunctional too. (www.grs.com)
Lastly, but not least, is my ‘can never be replaced’ setting tool. Made from a jewellery tool handle and a screw! I can’t use anything else, as it just doesn’t work. This little mushroom sits in the palm of my hand and is just right.
Tools are like old friends, you pick up from where you left off, and they support you no matter what!
If you fancy learning how to use some of these wonderful tools or just come to visit my studio and showroom over the summer all my details are available on my website:
Jewellery Workshops or simply message me via Contact
Since the busy summer I have taken a look at life! Getting divorced is part of this but also the intricacies of just juggling every day life. My autumn resolution is to do more exercise.
Part of this has involved sticking to my Zumba classes with Clare in Steyning on a Monday and Thursday night, but I have upped the anti by also taking a walk for an hour or so three times a week. Some days are harder than others.
However, it has meant that I’m exploring the country side, trying to go on a different walk at least once a week. Walking in the fresh air is great. I also love taking photos whilst there.
Above are some of my favourites.
I have also started to look more, just to slow down a bit and actually see things. We are all very good at rushing from A to B without actually seeing the world around us. Rain drops and dew drops are a new fad for me! Just wondering if I can replicate this in my jewellery!!!!
Generally between January and April is a quiet work time for me. I continue to teach my Jewellery making workshops but use the rest of the working week to source new outlets to sell my jewellery, apply to exhibitions like Made- Brighton 2013 and to generally promote my work. I have been a little hammpered by the weather this year which has meant that I have had to put off trips to galleries and cancel some classes, but all in all I’m happy with the progress I’ve made this year so far.
I have too new outlets, The Tollhouse in Lindfield and Whispers in Steyning and continued having my work in Created in Chesterfield, Heart Gallery in Hebdon Bridge and Julian Stephens in Brighton.
I have had my work accepted for the Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition in Central Hall, I am a member of the Society, but still have to have the work selected to take part in this fantastic Flowery Exhibition in the heart of London!!
A couple of weeks ago I took a little bit of time out to design and make some earrings. Normally, I always leave earring making to the last minute, before an exhibition. I decided to do things differently this year!!! I now have plenty of earrings ready for Christmas sales ranging from £20-65. My favourites are the hydrangea studs, I did these in a drop earring too. These may not make it general consumption, they might get smuggled out of the workshop!!!!
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