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New Milton
Hampshire
England

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Workbench Blog

Welcome to my workbench blog!

If you are interested in what happens behind the scenes in my studio and the stories behind some of my latest custom designs then hopefully you will find this fruitful!

If you are thinking about working with me on something unique then I would strongly recommend you give this a read as it details my clients individual stories, form all around the globe!

'Ol Snake Eyes'

FRAN BARKER

 
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— Alisha Dudas ~ California

This little chap has been on quite a journey! I made a new friend from a cross the pond in my client, Alisha, during the making of this ring and its been a long process! A process I have thoroughly enjoyed!

'Ol Snake Eyes' (so he became named) started out as a lone Oval Champagne Diamond Alisha won many years back. Inspired by my Sinners collection and passionate about jewellery she emailed me about incorporating her diamond into a custom design.... Sinners style! With the many miles between us we emailed back and forth ideas until the initial designs were born! Neither of us knew how different the end result would be from these designs.... seeing the diamond in the flesh was to make all the difference! At this stage I had started to get to know Alisha's cat quite well and that she has exceptional taste in antique jewels!

Alisha posted me her diamond. Well.... weeks passed, UK customs had our bling... oh no!!! To say that UK customs can be a little slow, in this case, was an understatement!! I really felt for her, she had sent her precious stone to a stranger in another country  so the time did not pass quickly! Needless to say it finally arrived and we 'virtually' shared a large glass of red wine. The champagne diamond beauty now in my hands, Stunning, crying out to be cradled by yellow gold and crying out for a completely different design! By this point I felt I knew Alisha just well enough (along with her cat) to know that this diamond was not destined for the ring we had designed. I pinged across another sketch of what I would do with it if I had free reign. I'm thankful to say that we were both delighted with our vision of a little serpent with charming green/blue eyes! (It was all about the eyes). Alisha now knows my cat quite well and is starting to learn about my random phrases!

Final design

Final design

 
Initial designs

Initial designs

...And so the hunt began. 2x perfectly pear shaped, vivid blue/green, tiny tiny gemstones just perfect for our friends eyes..... not easy, but I like a challenge, these stones needed a 'pow' kinda colour. Our shared vision was so crystal clear that no compromise would do, this had to be done right so, after a few more weeks of searching, I decided to have them cut especially from just the right tourmaline that had just the right colour. They were perfectly pear shaped, vivid blue/green, tiny tiny Tourmalines, just right! Joy!

Having already found the right Ruby for the nape of his neck, during the cutting of the eyes, the work had commenced. The original Sinners collection had its scales etched onto the surface of the metal, a lovely organic finish which we did not want to loose, so this ring was made in silver first enabling this process to be free and non restrictive, as the gold would have been. Once I was happy a mold was made and an exact replica was cast in 18ct gold just awaiting all the finer detailing around the head that would bring him to life! All the while Alisha wanted to be kept in the loop so I had been sending her pictures of the stones and the work in progress so at this stage it was looking pretty close to a finished piece and we were both excited! I am now thinking... perhaps I'll just hop on a flight to the US and deliver this ring in person.... I'd like to meet this cat that rides in cars!

Well, sadly the reality of getting over to the US wasn't as idealistic as it sounded so I would settle for shipping this ring out to her in time for her birthday!

The ring is polished, the diamond set, next up the ruby.... the ruby is set (lovely). Next up the eyes. Perfectly formed little housings for these perfectly pear shaped, vivid blue/green, tiny tiny Tourmalines which were just right! One down... one to go... tap, tap, rub..... NOOOOOOOO!! I can honestly say that in my 13 years of making I have only broken 2 stones (this being the second) something I have always felt quite proud of. Why it broke I have no idea but my heart sank like a lead weight. Poor Alisha, this wasn't going to make it in time for her birthday! What on earth must she be thinking!?

Alisha is the most patient person I have ever 'not' met. I know one day I will meet her. She was very graceful and completely understanding of life and how sometimes things just go wrong. I have never sent someone I've never met flowers before but the 'Oooopsy daisies' did, however, arrive in time for her Birthday and we shared another large glass of red wine to that!

Two brand new sparkling, perfectly pear shaped, vivid green/blue, tiny tiny Tourmalines that were not 'just' right but perfectly right... in actual fact better than before... finally arrived to my studio by a very talented gemstone cutter! They set like a dream.... 'Ol Snake Eyes'... here you are, good to see you!

Alisha did eventually get her ring! She and her works receptionist were seen chasing after the delivery driver after waiting patiently all day..... he thought they were out to lunch... 'no you dont! I'm wearing this ring today!!!'... and so she did! And so we decided that a large glass of red could make way for a bottle of fizz, which we shared 'virtually'.

Working with Alisha on this little fella has really made me appreciate how lucky I am to be able to work so closely with my clients. With an increasing global clientele, I have come to appreciate that it just goes to show that you don't have to be able to visit the designer to be able to get want you want. You can sill obtain that personal service and build that trust and relationship that is enjoyed when it comes to custom design. 

What is next for me and Alisha..... a 'bad ass' big cat ring!