Artgems News

A ring restoration for the emerald month of May.

As a maker and designer for nearly 30 years, it is always great when a new challenge hits the bench that pushes you into untried territories of production and construction, and this month has done just that.

I was entrusted by a very dear client and friend Wendy, to remake an emerald and diamond ring which had become a much-loved family heirloom from the time of her grandmother.

Wendy, whose birthstone is emerald had been given this ring by her mother to celebrate a special birthday who in turn had been gifted it by Wendy’s grandmother for her 21st birthday in 1937.

After a little research looking at similar rings of this style, it definitely became apparent that this was from the Art Deco period and therefore made and designed in the 1920’s.

A wonderful photograph survives showing Wendy’s mum wearing the ring sitting alongside her two sisters and her own mother during the 30’s.

As you can see from the photos below, the ring was extremely worn and fragile. The square body was perilously thin all the way around making the diamonds vulnerable to falling out and being lost, the main emerald setting was chipped and missing in places and the emerald itself was extremely battered and frosted through years of wear. The entire ring shank had become very narrow making the setting distorted and very precarious. In other words, the ring had done its time. So, the challenge was to reconstruct this special ring, retaining as much of its original essence and charm and making it wearable for many decades to come.

First of all, I removed all the stones for examination, the baguette diamonds were carefully cleaned and the emerald was repolished.

The before and after shot of the emerald is quite something. Due to the cage like construction of the setting, the base of the emerald had been perfectly preserved so when the top was repolished its true beauty was revealed.

 As you can see above, the back of the ring was extremely complex, the emerald definitely not symmetrical and the baguette diamonds either side not matching. I decided to take a modern approach to reconstruction and arranged to get the entire ring digitally scanned creating a three-dimensional computer file showing every side of the ring. Also, this meant that the original stones could be scanned and measured to fit exactly in the settings. This was a completely new departure for me, CAD designing and printing not an area I had delved into before but it proved to be the perfect route for this commission.

There was much to and froing with the technical experts to get parts of the ring restrengthened in the design while retaining the delicacy of the original ring. There was no point reproducing a ring as fragile as the one we already had. We were trying to return it to how it would have been designed and constructed in the 1920’s. This meant thickening up the setting and giving proper support to all the stones and widening the ring shank to its original thickness.

Gradually an image of the ring started to take shape and the excitement was building for me and Wendy.

The next step was to order a three-dimensional resin print of how the ring would eventually be. This was an important stage as it is one thing to have a CAD drawing but quite another to hold the actual ring in your hands. Being a jeweller who always works in materials after preliminary sketches, this was starting to feel more like home turf. The resin print needed a little adjustment and then we were there!

The final step of creating the wax from the cad drawing for casting took place and the ring was cast in platinum using the original metal from the ring and some extra platinum needed for the new firmed up version. It was a lovely thought that the metal of original ring would be in the new casting.

The casting arrived, I gave it a super clean up and polish and Wendy had her first fitting minus the stones to check the sizing.

Finally, the stones were set, a few newer diamonds purchased for the outer ring and it was complete.

It was quite an emotional moment when Wendy put the restored ring back on her finger. It still had its original delicacy, its cleaned and restored baguette diamonds and beautifully repolished emerald and of course the metal of the previous ring deep in its construction.

It is a wonderful thought that this ring has journeyed through time for over 100 years, worn and treasured by three generations to its reincarnation harnessing the technical advances of the 21st century to continue hopefully for the next 100 years. For me it was a real privilege to have been entrusted with this journey, thankyou Wendy!