Diamond Solitaire Pendant

Here’s a Christ­mas gift meant to say some­thing spe­cial to that spe­cial someone.

Ricco Diamond Pendant

Artisan-made Exclu­sive Design Dia­mond Pen­dant by Ricco

The dia­mond is top grade D color (col­or­less) and VVS1, mean­ing Very Very Small Inclu­sions first cat­e­gory (not vis­i­ble to the naked eye.)  A cer­tifi­cate stat­ing the spec­i­fi­ca­tions is included.  Sat­is­fac­tion is guar­an­teed in every respect.

The design is sim­ple, yet elegant–an ode to the circle–very fem­i­nine, easy to wear, classy, suit­able for dress-up or casual wear.  Not over the top, but def­i­nitely noticeable. This is a gift that will be trea­sured for a life­time and a solid investment.

Order now for Christ­mas.  First come first served on this one of a kind pendant.

I have other dia­monds with sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics, avail­able to be set in any color or carat metal, includ­ing plat­inum, with any chain style and length you may desire, but you need to call quickly:  toll-free  888 635 4975

If you want to buy this one online, go to https://squareup.com/market/ricco-gallery/k-diamond-solitaire-pendant

 

 

 

 

 

Gold

About Gold Jewelry

What is it about gold that has made it a favorite of jew­el­ers since antiq­uity?  And why is it so sought after still today?

Both ques­tions have a sim­ple answer: because gold is beau­ti­ful.  But there is more to the allure of gold than its appeal to the eye.  Gold is a rare ele­ment mak­ing it a sta­tus sym­bol to own.  In antiq­uity, only kings and rulers wore gold.  By Roman times, gold own­er­ship was more dis­trib­uted in the pop­u­la­tion, but as now, cost fac­tors nar­rowed own­er­ship to the wealthy.

From the jeweler’s point of view, gold is a joy to work with–it can be fused, sol­dered, formed, forged and shaped with rel­a­tively great ease com­pared with other met­als like sil­ver, and espe­cially cop­per.  Gold has the down­side of being rel­a­tively soft and eas­ily deformed when in its pure state.  By mix­ing gold with another metal, like cop­per or sil­ver, soft­ness can be con­trolled.  The mix­ture is an alloy.  For exam­ple, 14K gold is an alloy con­tain­ing 14 parts of pure gold mixed with 10 parts of another metal (or com­bi­na­tion of met­als.)  See my post about karats for more details.

Red Spinel in 22K Gold

22K Gold Ring with Red Spinel Cabochon

Another way to com­pen­sate for the soft­ness of gold lies in a spe­cial way of form­ing metal called “anti­clas­tic rais­ing” (see details here.)  With this tech­nique, metal is shaped so that the forces that cause metal to deform are in oppo­si­tion, result­ing in a form that is very strong and resis­tant to change even when there is not much thickness.

The ring shown here is made by this method.  Achiev­ing results like this requires patience and time because the edges of the cylin­der (the ring)  must be raised up con­trary to its axis of rota­tion.  Try this your­self:  make a cylin­der from a piece of paper by putting one edge against another.  Now try to raise the edges of the cylin­der up and over in the con­trary direc­tion.  With paper this is not pos­si­ble; metal will stretch to achieve the result although it requires great care and dili­gence, not to men­tion know-how.

See Ricco’s 22K Gold Jew­elry in his Etsy shop

Handmade

What Does “Hand­made” Mean?

Forged Silver Earrings

Forged Sil­ver Earrings

The words “hand­made,” “hand­crafted,” and “arti­san made”, which appear in many prod­uct descrip­tions on sites such as etsy.com, have dif­fer­ent appli­ca­tions. These range from prod­ucts assem­bled from man­u­fac­tured ele­ments to pieces crafted from scratch using basic mate­ri­als such as wire, sheet metal, stones, etc.

One can argue that a per­son who makes things from wire and sheet metal is also using mate­ri­als that are pre-formed since the artist did not make the wire or sheet metal from ore, so in a sense the word “hand­made” applies equally to both kinds of prod­ucts.  But I would argue that there is in fact a world of dif­fer­ence between string­ing beads–to take one example—and forg­ing a metal bracelet from sheet, because the skill sets are vastly different.

A bead stringer may pro­duce an orig­i­nal prod­uct, in the sense that the pre­cise com­bi­na­tion of beads in the design has never been seen before (not hard to accept due to the enor­mous vari­ety of beads avail­able.)  But the method, the string­ing itself, relies on a sim­ple set of oper­a­tions: putting a wire or cord through a hole in a bead and attach­ing a pur­chased find­ing (such as a clasp or pin) to fin­ish the piece.  In many cases, a piece of jew­elry pro­duced this way car­ries the label “handmade.”

By con­trast, an arti­san who forges a piece of flat metal into a sculp­tural shape must have a more com­plete knowl­edge base, such as  how metal moves when stretched or com­pacted and how dif­fer­ent metal alloys behave when heated or hammered—and must have mas­tered the tech­niques for con­trol­ling the shape of the form.  The more knowl­edge the arti­san has, the more advanced the result­ing form can be, and the process of learn­ing can be end­less.  This is why it seems ludi­crous to me to apply the word “hand­made” to both prod­ucts equally.

In between these two extremes are inter­me­di­ate cases where the process of cre­at­ing a piece of jew­elry is heav­ily depen­dent on machines.  One exam­ple is lost-wax cast­ing, a process that involves melt­ing a wax model out of a plas­ter sur­round and fill­ing the space with molten metal.  What results is a metal copy of the wax model.  It’s pos­si­ble to make copies of the orig­i­nal wax using a rub­ber mold of the result­ing metal piece.  The wax copies are then assem­bled into “trees” of up to 50 or 100 waxes and cast into metal by the lost-wax method, as before.  The artistry, the “hand­made” part, lies in mak­ing the wax model.  The ques­tion is, can each of the repli­cas be jus­ti­fi­ably called “handmade?”

When eval­u­at­ing a piece of jew­elry (or other “hand­made” item), con­sider the skills and knowl­edge that go into its mak­ing.  Some­times it’s not easy to see, but if you look care­fully you can usu­ally detect dif­fer­ences. Under­stand that a one-of-a-kind piece of jew­elry has more intrin­sic value than a piece that is one of many copies, in the same way that an orig­i­nal work of art is more valu­able than a print.

 See Ricco’s hand­made, one-of-a-kind jew­elry on Etsy

Man versus Machine

14K hammered bands

14K ham­mered bands

Man

ver­sus

Machine:

Who Wins?

From time to time I check out what’s being offered on QVC  and other shop­ping chan­nels and I’m amazed at how low the prices are.  Because they sell tens of  thou­sands and some­times hun­dreds of thou­sands of pieces of the same thing in an hour or so, profit mar­gins are wafer-thin. This sug­gests that every­body goes home a win­ner, includ­ing the consumer.

The machine wins, because once you set up a machine to pro­duce the first item, the next hun­dred thou­sand are pro­duced at min­i­mal extra cost per item.  There’s no way that a human being can com­pete with the machine, so why bother mak­ing some­thing by hand that a machine does cheaper?

But wait a minute: The machine can only pro­duce iden­ti­cal ver­sions of the same thing while a human being pro­duces pieces that dif­fer at least slightly, pre­cisely because a human being is not a machine. In short, the hand-made piece reflects human­ity, or soul, while the machine-made piece is, by def­i­n­i­tion, soulless.

The ques­tion becomes: Is the dif­fer­ence between a hand-made item and a machine-made item enough to jus­tify the dif­fer­ence in price?  Of course that’s a per­sonal deci­sion. What I can tell you, from the per­spec­tive of some­one who has made jew­elry for over 40 years, is that the choice is an impor­tant one.  The jew­elry that one wears reveals a lot  person’s taste and sophis­ti­ca­tion. Hand-made jew­elry projects the energy of its maker. Machine-made jew­elry projects the energy of the machine.  Many peo­ple won’t see the dif­fer­ence, but many will and thank god for them.

My advice is to select your jew­elry care­fully and to buy only pieces that have soul and last­ing beauty. Those are pieces that you will love and cher­ish your whole life, and even if they cost more to buy they have greater value—both to you and to a per­son to whom you may pass them on. Qual­ity hand-made jew­elry is a plea­sure to wear from the start and ends up being less expen­sive than mass-produced items that often end up being put away.

Think about the mean­ing of the jew­elry that you wear and you’ll see that the machine loses.

See my hand-made rings, like the one in the pic­ture above, at www.etsy.com/shop/riccogallery

 

White Gold

White Gold

A ring with a large colored stone set in 18K palladium white gold

18K Pal­la­dium White Gold and Beryl Ring

Pure gold, or 24 karat gold, is famously called “the yel­low metal,” so how do you make white gold from it? It’s done by adding a white metal to the pure gold.

While nickel is com­monly used to pro­duce com­mer­cial white gold, pal­la­dium is a pre­ferred white metal because some peo­ple (about one in eight) have  aller­gic reac­tions to nickel.

Com­mer­cial white gold jew­elry is often plated with rhodium to hide traces of yel­low that remain after adding nickel to pure gold. The plat­ing is sub­ject to wear­ing through, reveal­ing the under­ly­ing color in patches and requir­ing replat­ing to make the orig­i­nal white color of the rhodium.

Pal­la­dium white gold com­po­si­tions are not as white as rhodium plated met­als, but they are white enough with­out plat­ing to sat­isfy most peo­ple. And they have no nickel.

Ricco uses 18K pal­la­dium white gold alloys exclu­sively for his jew­elry, as shown in the image above, espe­cially when set­ting col­ored stones.  The color of the stone is more accu­rately seen against white metal than it would be against yel­low gold.

See this ring in my Etsy shop.

Serendipity 3

Another Mixed Met­als Ring
Gold and copper fused together on silver ring

Mixed met­als 3

 

Notice the rolled edges on this ring and how they “cap­ture” the fused met­als within.  This gives rigid­ity to the ring and pro­vides more com­fort at the same time.

Com­par­ing the three ver­sions of Serendip­ity designs shows you that the effects can vary greatly.  They are all equally inter­est­ing, in my opin­ion.  How about yours?  Please leave a comment.

Serendipity 2

Another ver­sion of a fused mixed met­als ring show­ing a slightly dif­fer­ent effect and method. Here you can clearly see the inter­face between the gold and cop­per result­ing from the dif­fer­ent melt­ing points of these two metals.

The com­bi­na­tion of gold and cop­per is quite beau­ti­ful and it’s a shame that we don’t see it more often due to the idea that cop­per is not wor­thy. Sil­ver is a per­fect neu­tral foil for the two more col­ored metals.

Serendipity 1

 Mixed Met­als Ring

 

Ring with gold and copper fused to silver

Serendip­ity in fused metals

This ring com­bines 14K gold, cop­per, and sil­ver by fus­ing them together on top of the sil­ver base.  This requires skill because each metal melts at a dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­ture. The process is like paint­ing with flame, and you must take care that you don’t end up with a blob of molten metal at the end.

Serendip­ity plays a role in the process because you only have a cer­tain degree of con­trol in how the met­als fuse and melt together–the rest is up to the gods.  The design is thus a mix of my artistry and the artistry of nature, and it has end­less inter­est because you can con­tin­u­ally see new things in the abstract forms. The cop­per reacts with chem­i­cals in the air and changes color, another fea­ture that makes the ring more dynamic and interesting.

Rings are a favorite form in my reper­toire. I like mak­ing them because they are a con­strained can­vas yet they allow a range of expression.

 

 

Diamond and Sapphire Engagement Ring

Original Design Engagement Ring by Ricco

Orig­i­nal Design Engage­ment Ring by Ricco

Recycling Jewelry

Jew­elry is one of mankind’ sol­dest obses­sions. It is found in the old­est arche­o­log­i­cal digs and we assume, there­fore, that the desire to adorn our­selves is part of being human. This can be seen in the action of the new­born baby instinc­tively reach­ing out to grab the ear­ring dan­gling from Mom’s ear­lobe. (By the way, many a lobe has been torn by this action, so  new moms should take care.)

But mod­ern jew­elry man­u­fac­tur­ing has a seedy under­belly, from the envi­ron­men­tal dam­age that accom­pa­nies min­ing gold and other pre­cious met­als, to the well– known issues con­nected with the min­ing of dia­monds and other gem­stones. The plat­ing of met­als with gold and sil­ver also pro­duces some nasty waste prod­ucts, and there are hor­ror sto­ries of sweat­shops using child labor.

But all’s not lost. You can recy­cle your exist­ing jew­elry and help the planet at the same time. Ricco can help you do this. Get in touch and let’s talk about it.