Of all the different aspects involved in being a jeweller custom designing is my favourite. This is the part of the business where I can really allow the creativity to flow and let my imagination take over. An idea can be sparked anywhere at any time. Quite often I get my ideas from looking at pieces of artwork. This could be anything from watercolours to Aboriginal paintings. I find the textures to be what really draws me in and gets me thinking about how texture and shape can be used in different types of metals and stones. Other times, I may just sit down at my work bench and begin carving a shape out of wax and go from there. Most of the time, however, it’s good to have some sort of a visual idea to work off of. I have also had times when I’ve received some gems or diamonds and been inspired to create something that will compliment them. In this case, I know that whatever I design will have to work with the shapes of the stones I have.
Once I have an idea I often sketch it out on paper. Other times I might decide to go straight to my work bench where I will draw out a shape on the wax and begin carving. My goal, at this stage, is simply to carve out a well balanced, three dimensional shape. It may or may not be a symmetrical design, but it has to have balance. This stage can be extremely fertile with producing other ideas as sometimes when I am seeing a design take shape all sorts of possibilities will present themselves! When this happens I often leave the half finished design for later and start on my new idea so that it doesn’t run away on me. Ideas are very elusive things and you have to catch them when they arise; otherwise they can slip away forever!
Once the wax is finished it’s very rewarding because it gives me an idea of what the finished piece will actually look like. At this stage quality control is paramount and I will proceed only if I am absolutely sure that it will turn out to be something amazing. Sometimes at this stage I may feel that finer details can be added such as halos or settings for smaller diamonds. In this case I may use a CAD (computer aided design). This can help me achieve things that are not possible by hand. Once I decide to go ahead, the design will be cast in gold (or platinum) and the stones will be set. This stage is done by my expert goldsmith, whom I have known for 25 years, and I always have complete faith that he will do my design justice.
Getting the finished product back is a great moment of pride and joy for me. Although I know that I’ll have to part with my creation soon I always make sure to show it to my wife and son first. Then, at this point, the design is ready to go to the person it is meant for so that he or she can enjoy it for a lifetime; wearing it with the same pride that I had in making it. There is no greater reward for me as a designer than seeing clients years later and finding that they are still wearing my design!