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The Peridot Gemstone

Written by : Posted on August 13, 2010 : Comments Off on The Peridot Gemstone
Compass Pendant, Compass Jewellery, Compass Necklace

Peridot framed in Gold (there's a compass on the other side...)

Today is Friday the thirteenth. I’m not really a superstitious person, but then again, when I see a lone Magpie, I often find myself looking out for the second. Better to think of Friday the thirteenth as an auspicious day, much better.

There’s a certain mystique surrounding gemstones, too. As well as being a colour palette in my creations, gemstones fascinate me. Their origins and formation, their colours, symbolism and their stories. In ancient times, gemstones were used as talismans and amulets to protect against evil and to promote and preserve health. Although scientists continue to struggle to produce hard evidence of how gemstones can influence health, I remain content to delve into the stories and beliefs that have outlasted such attempts.

Surrounded by enchanting olive groves as I am, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the olivine. Olivine is the alternative name for the peridot, used because of the olive-green colour of the gemstone.

The peridot originates from Zabargad Island, a small volcanic island in the Red Sea. In the time of the Pharaohs, well over 3000 years ago, this ancient stone was found to have been used in Egyptian jewellery.

Peridot emits a warm and friendly energy. It is said to provide a shield around the body to protect it from outside influences. Peridot helps to lessen anger and jealousy and inspires happiness in the self, and delight in the nature of one’s life.

Often referred to as the evening emerald as it holds its colour in twilight more tenderly than true emeralds. With its gentle glow, early lapidaries pronounced peridot a good talisman against terrors of the night.

Well, it’s made me feel happy just thinking about it. Hope it’s been a pleasure for you, too.  I wish you an auspicious day.

Mistakes and Miracles

Written by : Posted on August 12, 2010 : 6 Comments
Peridot Compass

The Compass of Direction (one of my compass creations)

Don’t let making a mistake get in the way of your miracle.

Recently, I met someone who had decided to change her career and who spoke about her new idea with a sparkle in her eyes. She chatted enthusiastically about her plans and listed off an impressive inventory of her latest qualifications. She had her family’s support and had already met up with some promising business contacts.

Up until now, she had been following her new direction. Everything had gone well. Without any real financial worries, she had been able to prepare herself for this new career in a safe and supportive environment.

Great, really great. However, she then told me she felt that she was in limbo; that she needed to find something so she could get started. All her enthusiasm and certainty seemed to evaporate and she even drifted on to talking about a completely different career.

She had arrived at crunch time. Ready to go live. Primed to put everything she’d learned into action. She was all set to give it a try but something was preventing it.

Here’s the thing. The shift from preparing for a new path to actually following it, requires a degree of courage. What if you make a mistake? What if it doesn’t work out they way you’d imagined? What if, after all this ground work, you’re not a success? What if, now this is a big one, what if you look silly?

So, as I said, don’t let making a mistake get in the way of your miracle.

Choose your direction. Prepare for it. Then do it. Make mistakes.

The experience of making mistakes leads inevitably to the miracle of learning.

What really great mistakes have you made lately?

The Business of Being Lucky

Written by : Posted on August 5, 2010 : 14 Comments

Four Leafed Clover in Uvarovite Drusy (Photo:Kiff Backhouse)

Luck or Choice?

Recently, a friend visiting from the UK commented on how lucky I was to be living in France and to enjoy my work. Actually, I do feel pretty lucky. When I look at my life, I love what I see. However, another friend instantly countered the idea of my situation being simply a matter of luck. He pointed out that I was living this life as a result of the choices I’d made.

You know what? He’d made a point. Yes, yes, I know that it’s a turn of phrase, but it’s also an important idea. Whereas luck is associated with things happening by chance, I’m living this life because I chose to – and took action.

Choosing to Change

Twelve years ago my life was entirely different. With a good job and a nice house, I was – in the eyes of society – successful.

Then I had an “Is this it?” moment. You ever had one of those?

Right now, I’m sat in the garden of our ancient home in the Languedoc region of France. Our Labrador is at my feet, our Terrier is transfixed by the lizards that come out at this hour and the air is filled with the unrelenting “noise” of the cicadas. My glass of cold white wine has left a watery circle on the slate table top we brought with us when we moved here from the UK. I’ve had an absorbing day in my jewellery workshop making one of my unique compass creations.  I am content.

Inspiration to Choose

Perhaps today’s compass jewellery creation will inspire someone somewhere to choose their direction and be as “lucky” as I am. I hope so.

Isn’t it great that we can choose our direction and that it’s not all down to luck?

Life is an Adventure

Written by : Posted on July 27, 2010 : 8 Comments
Fire Opal Gold Pendant

Fire Opal - An Inner Flame of Vitality (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

The term “adventure” is often associated with risk and danger. My own interpretation of adventure is that it’s a fun and exciting opportunity to live a great life – with some risk and danger thrown in for good measure!

Patterns of Success

Once upon a time, I had the trappings of a successful career woman, living very comfortably. Heavenly holidays, sumptuous restaurants, new clothes – you know the sort of thing. I’d achieved respectable qualifications and secured senior roles through results based merits. My life had a pattern that it’s easy to associate with success.

However, I didn’t feel fulfilled. Many of the really fun things, the adventures, had to be squished into the small spaces that were left after I’d given enough of myself to my work. The balance wasn’t right.

I met several inspirational people along the way, some of whom are now my closest friends. However, whilst I was interested in doing my job well, I wasn’t passionate about the work itself.

Choose Your Direction

So I took a risk and changed direction! Now, in truth, I can’t tell you that this happened in a calm and timely way – rather, my impulsive nature stepped in and things began to happen. I left my work and changed course. As part of that, my husband Chris and I also moved to France!

Be Yourself

I’m now doing what I love. Creative and mechanically inclined, I’m fascinated by the challenges and rewards of being a goldsmith; and there will always be challenges as I’m someone who wants to keep exploring and trying out new ideas. When I’m in my workshop, I lose track of time. I’m fulfilled. My designs are inspired by the fascinating path of life, the secret patterns of who we are. We are each of us unique and my creations celebrate that individuality.

These days, my work and my adventures are now bound together, they have become one. I’m living my life the way I choose to and take delight in meeting interesting people from all over the world.

Each piece of jewellery that I create is made with a passion. A passion for life – my passion for life.

Stone Setting

Written by : Posted on July 25, 2010 : 2 Comments
Setting a Stone

Traditional Stone Setting

Bringing Jewellery to Life

Setting the stone unites the stone with the jewellery creation for which it was designed. This is usually the last process involved in creating a piece of jewellery.

The union of the stone and its setting brings the jewellery creation to life. So much so, in fact, that it’s sometimes difficult to resist just popping the stone in for a sneak peek before all the work on the actual creation is complete! However, the risk of the stone getting stuck is too great and it needs to be kept away from many of the processes preceding the setting. Each jewellery creation calls for the transformation of gold and silver using a variety of skills, tools and techniques, many of which would harm the stone.

Traditional Skills

When incorporating a stone, I favour what is known as the “rubover” setting. With this setting, the stone is held in place securely by a continuous band of gold which is, literally, “rubbed” over the the edge of the stone. In my workshop, this “rubbing over” is achieved the traditional way using a setting punch and a chasing hammer.

Sensing the Rhythm

Firstly, the band is pushed gently over the stone in four points equally spaced around the stone. Then, a series of continuous and rhythmic taps of the chasing hammer deliver the required force to the smooth tip of the punch, easing the gold over the entire outer edge of the stone. Manipulating gold in this way, little by little, is one of the many satisfying aspects of being a goldsmith. Seeing and feeling how gold responds to the forces applied means I can make fine adjustments for a perfect finish.

A Creation to Cherish

After a final polish, the creation is complete and ready to be cherished!