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?
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
Jewellery made in memory.
Jewellery has contained symbolism and has been part of the rituals in life for as far back as history has been recorded.
Adornments and jewellery have been used to represent and remember those who have died.
The ancient Egyptians valued personal adornment highly. The deceased were adorned for their send off into the afterlife. The symbols within these adornments were equally important to those alive and in memory for those who had died. The rarer the gemstones and materials the better, as this was a sign of great wealth and success. Gemstones where carved to emulate symbolic forms like scarab beetles which conveyed renewal, regeneration and endurance of the soul. Snakes were used as a representation of spirit guardians and the spirit, and also a symbol of ever lasting love.
Memento Mori jewellery (16th-18th Century) was created to remind us of the inevitability of death. This often contained skulls, coffins and skeletons, and were often worn in remembrance. Also the wearing of such jewellery would be regarded as a kind of talisman and was worn as protection and a constant reminder.
This idea has been modernised in line with contemporary life. One can now have jewellery made containing your loved ones ashes, and even have their remains made into diamonds.
It is possible that a jewellery was comparable to a photograph in todays society. To commission a painting may well have been too costly where as a token piece of jewellery might have been a more achievable price.
In present times we think of the Victorians being most noted for their mourning jewellery. White enamel would represent a single person, black a wife or husband and the use of pearls in a piece of mourning jewellery represented the death of a child. Inscriptions were often included in these pieces of jewellery. The mourning period during Victorians times had strict rules and etiquette. Both women and men wore mourning jewellery.
Different stages of mourning were represented by different colours. After a period of time the mourner could progress to colours other than black or white. The colours of Blue, Grey and Purple would have been reflected in the jewellery that was worn.
Often money was left in a will for the purpose of creating morning rings for specified list of mourners. Jewellery often contained a piece of the relatives hair.
I have had the honour of making several pieces of jewellery which were commissioned in memory of someone who had died.
Turquoise is know as a stone of protection.
Wow, it’s December 2017 on Friday. I simply don’t know where this year has vanished. My life seems to be steered by work and life, and trying to keep both on an even keel.
Chaos reins at this time of year in my studio, it’s never orderly, but it really does get in to one big mess as I try to keep on top of all the orders and commissions.
This time of year the exhibitions and sales seem to be all or nothing, next week I’m taking part in three different events, all helping to celebrate buying local, supporting small businesses, and opting to buy hand made unique gifts for Christmas.
We don’t need to buy oodles of plastic, electronic or designer gear. Why not give your loved one a gift that no one else in the whole wide world has. All the while know that you are supporting a local business. That business is probably run buy someone who loves what they do, they love to create, it’s what they do best. However, the only way they can make that lifestyle choice work is if they actually sell their work. Artists and makers are very privileged to be able to earn a crust creating, but it’s tough. You have to be a Jack of all trades, and on a steep learning curve. Being a sales person, a business manager, a procurement officer and a creator all at once.
Just think though you are purchasing a one off gift, quite often for a very small price. You are saving resources, buying original designs and getting something really special.
On reflection it’s been great for me, with so many new designs and potential new clients. I’m really looking forward to next year, and seeing where it takes me!
People, very often, find there own symbolism and meaning for a piece of jewellery. Items of jewellery are predisposed to having sentimental values and memories attached to them. Jewellery is sometimes the only belonging people will keep as a keep sake if someone dies, or someone gives to another as a sign or love or affection.
I was inspired by a visit to The Pre-Raphaelite exhibition I visited a couple of years ago, and by participation in an exhibition which was names the Language of Flowers, with the Society Of Botanical Artists.
The Victorians created a secret language which could be used in art and jewellery to send a message.
An inclusion of a piece of turquoise in a piece of jewellery would mean ‘Forget-me-not’, rosemary would mean remember, Oak symbolises strength, Ivy represents fidelity and loyalty and adding an emerald to a work could symbolise hope.
At the start of this year I took some time out to create a new collection/body of work to celebrate British Wildlife. When I started researching I noticed two things. The first that people tend to have an be attracted to or have an affinity to different animals, whether its to do with a memory or experience or they simply just ‘like’ that particular animal. Secondly, animals have symbolism.
So, here is what I discovered and examples of my new work.
Bee: immortality, rebirth, order, purity, secret wisdom, honesty
Owl: wisdom, truth and patience
Goose: guardian, inspiration and happiness
Fox: the provider, feminine magic, diplomacy
Wren: spirit, witchcraft
Rabbit: safety, overcoming limiting beliefs, nurturing
Seagull: carefree, versatility, freedom
Squirrel: gathering, protection, trust
Hare: fertility and sensuality
Swallow: Love, care, affection, strength
These pieces are on sale direct from my studio or at the Open house exhibitions I will be taking part in this summer
People often ask when did I start making jewellery. I often answer when I was little.
Now you may think that little children can’t make jewellery, or indeed that they shouldn’t even be allowed in to a jewellery workshop! When me and my younger sister were little we lived in a house which had a purpose built studio attached to the back.
As my Dad, a jeweller, worked from home we spent many hours with him in his studio when he was working.
I have vivid memories of hammering metal, creating melted blobs of silver from scraps and drilling holes with a hand drill. This was all before the age of ten!
I do often feel guilty that I haven’t offered this opportunity to my own children. The only time they actually entered into my studio, before the aged of ten, the boys grabbed hammers and began to whack them onto the anvil. Once they had left I found a sweet had been mashed into the cogs of my prized rolling mills. So that was the end of that!
When I was ten years old we moved from Steyning high street to a farm just outside the town. My dad set up a new workshop in the old farm buildings.
I would often spend time ‘playing’ with bits of metal in his workshop.
When I got to secondary school I manage to incorporate some of my designs into my coursework. I also found that my friends would actually pay me to make them pieces of jewellery, so it was a great way to earn some pocket money.
By the age of 17, I concentrated on working a piece from design through to finished product.I took part in Young Craftsman of the Year Competition, which was part of the South of England Show in June. I came third and won first place over a couple of years. Winning quite a nice pot of money! My winning piece’s design was derived from a poppy seed head.
At sixth form college I designed and made portable work bench. I think by this point I still regarded jewellery making as a hobby, but I did have several customers!
In 1993, once again following in my father’s footsteps, I went on to complete a foundation course at the Union Place campus of Northbrook College.
Thank you to The Worthing Sociey for this image of the building in 1995, it has since been replaced with housing.
I wasn’t very creative student, and my tutors were a little concerned that I didn’t have what it takes to go to Art College. I worked hard and learnt how to draw, paint, work in clay and develop photos. Than came the time where students had to decide which course to apply to next. My tutors took me to one side, and asked why I was applying for Jewellery and silversmithing courses. Obviously, I had forgotten to mention my hobby to them. I took my jewellery to show them, and I they were impressed!
I applied to the Surrey Institute of Arts and Design and completed a two year HND. From there I decide I was not yet ready to hit the real world, so I became a student at Edinburgh College of Art.
In 1997 reality hit, I left college and took over my Father’s studio, which had moved from the Cowshed to the Stable. I have been working there ever since.
© 2021 Katherine Lawrie Jewellery