Recycling fit for a Viking Warrior!

My client wanted a ring that was: ‘chunky as hell. An organic looking ring. Like it has come from the sea, made by a dwarf in a cave for a viking’’.

What a glorious brief!

‘I’m mainly interested in the gold as it all has family attachments. My family doesn’t have a tree. We have a twig and I’m the last one. I have no-one to pass anything on to.’

Among the collection of jewellery she’d inherited were her Mother’s and Grandmother’s engagement rings. Together they held six diamonds. 

She asked that the diamonds be kept together and specified that they be set flush to minimise the risk of them catching and being lost while she worked. 

The design was to be drawn from her love of Vikings and their symbols. She gave me a few of her favourites to consider. In the end I went with the Helm of Awe.  

The Helm of Awe is first written about in the 13th century. It features widely in Norse mythology both as a physical and metaphorical object.  It is depicted as a warrior’s symbol of protection and invincibility, and also as a protector. If worn it is considered to shield the bearer through tougher times in life and help them gain success and strength.   Even today it remains a popular and one of the best known Icelandic symbols. 

As I was asked to produce ‘a chunky ring’ I decided to deconstruct the Helm of Awe forms into repeating elements around the ring. 

The ring was hand carved in wax. This is where I added the symbols and the rough textures using files and ball burrs. Next the item went for casting using the client’s own gold. After a bit more texturing and finessing it was time for the diamonds. They were carefully flush-set into the front of the ring in an asymmetrical arrangement.

What a beauty

I love this chunky, strong, filled with meaning, dwarf-made ring. It was a real pleasure to create. When I take on commissions I often end up learning new things about subjects, people, objects and places that are within the story of the jewellery to be remodelled, and the intent for their renewal.

It is my feeling that the imbibed sentiment and meaning is preserved within the materials. That legacy endures even as the metal and gemstones are repurposed. A new layer of purpose and value is added to the existing story. Sometimes I find myself imagining how many other roles and forms the metal and stones had before our meeting.

Who knows. Perhaps in another life I was indeed a sea dwelling, cave dwarf goldsmith and I’ve already worked this gold in a previous time!

Are you looking to get a piece of bespoke jewellery designed for you? Although I have a bit of a waiting list – don’t hesitate to get in touch! I’ll pop you on the waiting list. 

Zoe’s Back at Glasgow’s Country Living Christmas Fair

It’s great to be back at the Country Living Christmas Fair – Glasgow.

It’s not difficult to get in the mood for Christmas when you go the Country Living Fair. Honestly, I am so looking forward to it. After a hiatus due to COVID last year, it feels great to be going back to Glasgow on 2nd -5th December.

The preparation starts a few months before. One of the first jobs is getting the design for the stand ready. It always helps me to reflect on the past year – what has changed and what new pieces I am taking this year. With a two-year break, it also reminded me how life has changed and adapted.

The other big job is creating the pieces that I am taking with me. The workshop is a hive of industry as I focus on the various collections, sizes and styles that I am taking with me. As they are all hand finished with some requiring stones to be set, it can take a wee while to bring it all together.

This year I am taking some new products which are exclusive to the fair.

The earrings are my new bespoke triple fold earrings. I love the new texture that I have introduced, with small vertical ridges.

I am also taking new bespoke necklaces with Blue Topaz and Opal. Although they are not available on the website just yet – you can see my bespoke range here for similar pieces: https://zoedavidsonjewellery.co.uk/bespoke-collection/

New to my website are two new gift sets which I think you may like. Order by 22nd December for UK delivery before Christmas. The Sculptural Swirl Pendant with London Blue Topaz and Wavelet Topaz Studs and the Sculptural Swirl Pendant and Plain Wavelet Studs. Order in time for Christmas!

If you are at the fair, please do come and say hello. I do have five pairs of tickets available if you are fast. Simply email me at made@zoedavidsonjewellery.co.uk and the first five will receive them.

Wedding Jewellery

Melding unique, traditional & new in every piece

From left to right: A cat’s eye alexandrite, a peridot, 2 white cubic zirconia , 2 sky blue topaz, blue zircon, ruby and amethyst.
Each gemstone raindrop represents a birthstone for all the relatives and siblings in the family.

I recently had the joy of being commissioned to create this special oak leaf brooch. It was requested by a bride to gift to her father to wear at her wedding. The oak is his favourite tree and with such symbolism around strength and wisdom it was the perfect choice.

The design concept came from the client. She wanted gemstones to lay like a raindrop on the surface of an oak leaf. Every gemstone raindrop represents a birthstone for all the relatives and siblings in the family.

Naturally it was very important to me that I create a piece to match the sentiments of the family, the importance of their day, and the importance of her father.

Weddings are of course the joining of two families. The ceremony celebrates a couple embarking on something new. I wanted the piece to reflect the melding of tradition and new, as well as the people involved.

I began with a sketch of an oak leaf which I sent to a local company called Peedie Models. They printed a 3D version which I used to form a mould and cast the silver for the basic leaf shape.

I wanted to have more texture and dimension so I used a range of high-speed rotating files which jewellery-makers called burrs. They work basically like a Dremel tool and are usually used to make stone settings within metal. I used them to sculpt bark texture, accentuate leaf veins and give the leaf more visual depth. The gemstones were set as the last details.

I think she created a beautiful representation of her close and loving family. It was a wonderful tribute to her father, and I hope will be an enduring memory of her wedding day. I needed to use a mix of traditional and new techniques to create it for her, but that seemed a fitting reflection for a wedding – something old, something new.

It was really an honour to be part of making her idea come to reality. I hope the family enjoy the brooch for years to come. Perhaps it will get worn at the Golden Wedding celebrations. Never really knowing what happens next is part of the excitement and pleasure of sending my work out from my studio.

Thank you for all your support
Zoe

Summer Giveaway and Bestsellers


As summer is drawing to a close, I wanted to say a huge ‘Thank you’ to my loyal customers by giving away a completely one off pendant. I am going to choose a winner from my newsletter subscribers on 21st  September 2021 – the official last day of summer.

The prize is a one-off Sculptural Asymmetric Pendant with London Blue Topaz. It’s an absolute stunner. London Blue Topaz is a particular favourite stone of mine. I like the deep blue colour and the way it contrasts with silver, drawing your eye into the centre of the piece.

If you are my lucky winner, just look out for an email after that date! Why don’t you get your friends and family to sign up too and see if they win, click here to enter. *


In other news, I have been updating and refreshing my website. Why not have a browse? Particular best sellers at the moment are:

They come in a variety of stones including ruby, tourmaline (green), blue and white topaz. They are also fantastic as stacking rings – so you can wear more than one at a time.

My swirl pendants have also proven popular this year including these ones.

The Lapis Lazuli Sculptural Swirl is a true statement pendant featuring a bright blue Lapis Lazuli enclosed in a 9ct yellow gold setting. A sculptural silver swirl surrounds the stone as if a wave crashing onto the shore. An utterly beautiful piece to wear.

Created entirely by hand using the silversmithing technique of fold forming, this large luxurious Saving Lives Pendant is a true style statement. Intricate sculptured layers of folded metal carefully enclose the delicate lifeboat at the centre of this piece. The stippled texture of the surrounding metal perfectly reflects the sea foam from the boat.

Thank you again for all your support and good luck in the competition!

Zoe

*Giveaway Terms and Conditions: The giveaway is open for all Zoe Davidson Jewellery Newsletter Subscribers. A winner will be drawn at random on 21st September 2021. The winner will be notified by 24th September 2021. The prize will be one Sculptural Aysemmetric Pendant with London Blue Topaz. No cash alternative is offered. The judges decision is final.

Remodelling jewellery – things to know

“The finished ring is absolutely stunning a very contemporary design, with the symbol for eternity incorporated. I absolutely love it, and more importantly so does Molly [Shelley’s daughter]… a very special gift spanning 3 generations, now much loved and cherished. I highly recommend Zoe, her standard of work is superb, she is a true creative and ever more, she is helpful and lovely. Thank you Zoe, we will be back!”

Part of testimonial by client, Shelley.

Creating new jewellery and remodelling is such a pleasure. I get to hear the stories and connections that people have with their jewellery. Often it is about generations, where stones and precious metals have been passed down. It is not just about the ring and the materials but what it symbolises that is so important. The value becomes priceless – just like the memories that are recalled when wearing these beautiful, miniature works of art.

Left: Carving the infinity design by hand. Right: Ring mount soldered together which will then be soldered to the main band.

This ring in particular brings that to the fore. A diamond ring, given to a daughter by her mother, has been re-modelled to include a hand carved infinity ring showing the endless love a mother has. Using the diamond from the original ring, the new ring captures memories and emotions in a way that is unique for her daughter.

Many people think that re-modelling is simply melting down the metals and re-setting the stones. This is far from the truth. The time taken in designing the piece and caring for the original precious elements takes much longer. Surprisingly, this can be more expensive than simply buying a new ring.

In this case, the original ring was white gold. Unfortunately, this is prone to cracking when melted down, so I was unable to use this for the final piece. Metals such as white gold and platinum are particularly prone to problems due to the alloys used.

Stones can also be re-used but again there are some limitations. Firstly, there is one of value. Re-setting diamonds is usually economical. High quality sapphires and rubies also can be worth re-modelling. With semi-precious stones the value of the piece may be less than the labour in terms of re-modelling, so it is for you to decide what would be best. This can also be true of smaller stones. Finally, some stones may not be able to be re-modelled. Emeralds, for instance, can be a little brittle especially if older.

If you would like a piece of jewellery re-modelled, such as a brooch, ring or necklace, please feel free to get in contact. We can talk about your aspirations as well as any limitations. I hope that together we can capture those precious memories, just maybe in a new package.

Capturing old memories through new pieces: Remodelling and renewal.

One of the greatest privileges I have is being let into some of the most intimate and treasured memories in people’s lives and being trusted with the objects that hold them.

We all have those pieces of sentimental jewellery we no longer wear. This client wanted to blend a ring from her Grandmother, a silver ring which held very precious memories, and a bangle given to her as a baby – all into a brand new ring. 

“When my mum suggested I use my christening bracelet to get a piece of jewellery made for my 50th birthday I had no idea where to start looking for a designer. I came across Zoe’s website and was wowed by her beautiful unique designs so contacted her.”

The Brief

The brief was delightful: something a bit unusual, a gold and silver blend, a hint of sparkle, with two pinkish morganites and a grey diamond. 

We exchanged emails until I felt I really sure I understood her style and likes. I was able then to send her several hand drawn designs for consideration until we landed on the final design. It included sourcing a salt and pepper diamond to add that ‘unusual’ element she wanted.

Her [Zoe’s] enthusiasm to make me something very special was evident from our first contact and throughout the entire process.” 

Remodelling

The moment must come when much loved pieces are melted down. Before I do, I always acknowledge the memories each piece represents and remind myself of my responsibility to care for those memories throughout the whole process. 

A rolling mill is used to turn silver into sheets, and gold into wire.

A band is made from the sheet of silver

Texture is added through a process known as retriculation. The top layer of silver is heated until just melted which creates a ‘molten-like’ texture and gives the metal a really organic look and feel.

Two lengths of remodelled gold wire were shaped around the ring and soldered. Three tubes also made from the client’s gold were soldered onto the front of the ring.

New Treasure

The whole ring gets a thorough sand and polish ready for the gemstones and then presentation to the client. It nearly brought me to tears when she put it on. It is in these moments I remember why I do what I do.

Many thanks to Zoe for making a new treasure out of old treasures and memories”

Orkney bound – happy couple create their own wedding rings

I can’t hide it – I absolutely love designing jewellery when the heart is involved. It could be engagements, anniversaries, the birth of a child – or in this case – for a wedding.

But this was not a commission. The couple wanted to come to Orkney and spend a day making their wedding bands.

I was delighted – but worried as it was not something I had done before however for this beautiful couple I was honoured to be part of their journey.

As it was February 2020, none of us really knew what the world had in store for us. We hadn’t really yet understood what COVID meant – or the length and number of times we would hear the word ‘Lockdown’. So, I write this blog without pictures of the finished rings. They will be revealed at another time – hopefully later this year when the couple finally get to be married.

Having a wee tipple to celebrate after the pair completed their wedding rings.

The planning process for the workshop started off with us discussing their designs over the phone and email – what they wanted to feature and what they wanted from the day. Whilst I wanted to keep things simple, I was also determined to help them create rings they would be proud of for years to come.

I was delighted that on the day they took to it really well – which was a relief as there was saw-piercing, soldering, polishing and not as gentle hammering as you would believe. It was a great feeling to be able to share the process with them. They couldn’t believe how much time it took to create jewellery. It was an interesting perspective and one I don’t really think about when I am absorbed in my work.

They thoroughly enjoyed their day – and we all enjoyed the glass of Prosecco at the end. I am so glad that we managed to do it.

We genuinely had the best day

“It is lovely to have seen where the jewellery that Zoe makes is made but also to feel like you were being a ‘real’ jeweller yourself. We genuinely had the best day, and are so excited to wear our jewellery for ever, and completely proud that we got to make it for each other – thank you Zoe for saying yes to my request you’ve made it possible for us to have the rings we wanted in the way we wanted them.”
– Feedback from the lovely pair

When we are allowed to mix socially again, I plan to make this workshop available to book via my website. If you or someone you know would like to create their wedding bands, then please feel free to get in contact.

Digging up the past – Recreating the Whitecleugh Chain

One of the best parts of my job is creating commissions for my clients. This year I was fortunate enough to be asked to make another Whitecleugh chain. It is a really spectacular piece, not least because it contains nearly 1kg of silver but more on that later…..

The origin of this chain dates back to Pictish times, from around 400 to 800AD. Named after the place in which it was discovered in Lanarkshire, 1869. Found in the ground, exposed by erosion in a drainage ditch. I wonder how it felt to happen upon such a piece. After all that time buried, it would have tarnished, so when did the finder realise that it was actually a 1.8kg ceremonial silver chain?

whitecleugh chain argentium zoe davidson jewellery

It is likely to have been worn as a choker neck ornament for ceremonial purposes. I like to think of feasts or ceremonies where the wearer sits in pride of place. It certainly wasn’t an everyday piece and not sure that it would be an everyday person as well. There are conflicting views of who the Picts were. Fierce warriors who fought off the Romans or farmers who were deeply rooted to their lands? As always am sure the truth sits somewhere in between.

The chain itself has 44 sliver rings, interlinked into 22 pairs. A penannular ring, acting as a clasp, completes the chain. 

The design for this ring was inspired by the swan, my client’s Celtic zodiac sign. The swan is called “Eala” in Scots Gaelic and is known for its majestic grace and mystical beauty. They considered the swan to mean great power and longevity could be attained once a person realised their inner beauty and power. 

The engraving on the penannular ring was done by Andrew Ashcroft. It’s such a specialist process. I am lucky to be able to work with him to create the spectacular finish to the clasp.

The entire piece is made from Argentium Silver, another request from my client. A special type of hallmark represents Argentium: the “winged unicorn”. Come upon this mark and you are guaranteed the finest silver. This silver is bright and pure. It is tarnish resistant, so easier to care for.If this was buried for over 1,000 years, would it be as tarnished as the original, I suspect perhaps a little.

It took me weeks to make and the hardest part was the wire bending! This piece certainly isn’t an exact replica of the original Whitecleugh chain, but heavily inspired by it. Would I make another one? Yes, I think I would.

zoe silver whitecleugh chain

This piece will always be one of my memorable commissions. I am very thankful to my client for allowing me to share a little of its story.

Creating a Sea Fever inspired commission

sea-blue-waves-crashing

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying

Excerpt from Sea Fever

John Masefield

It is a feeling that we all know well in Orkney. The freedom of being on the sea. No hustle, no bustle, just you, the sea, and your thoughts. The exhilaration of the spray on your cheeks and in that moment, not a care.

My customers know it well. They have a vintage speedboat and as a unique present for his wife, we created these statement earrings to evoke that memory.

The swirl of the ocean wave contains a small speedboat nestled in the fold. The gemstones are sapphires. To be precise they are Sri Lanka Diamond Cut AAA. “AAA” grade is assigned to a gemstone that is considered to “being near perfect.” Though these stones do show some variation in colour, they are clean, well cut and polished. This grade is the most sought out as the cut is perfect and the colour is vibrant. I have placed them slightly off centre, drawing your eye into the swirl.

The earrings are shaped by hand. I take a single flat sheet of gold and use a technique called fold forming. It means I carefully fold the sheet of gold inside a vice, then go on to hammer and shape a swirl on an anvil. Once I have created the perfect shape, I cut it in two along the fold line– allowing for both sides to be identical. Not only does this create a wonderful contemporary look but it also means that on one of the earrings you can see the soft textures of those hammer marks.

The speedboats are tiny, they are about 4mm long. I love shaping them, but it can be quite fiddly and requires a steady hand. Sometimes I catch myself holding my breath, to ensure I do not file too deep.

For an extra sense of ownership, I have inscribed her initials in the back of the earrings.

It is such a pleasure to create such personal items of jewellery. I hope the owner loves them for years to come and whenever she looks at them, remembers her husband and those shared days on their boat, flying across the ocean.

Bespoke ‘Out To Sea’ Swirl Earrings.
Made in 9ct Yellow Gold and 9ct White Gold featuring Sri Lanka AAA Sapphires.
swirl-earrings-sapphire-blue-boats
Completely hand formed and made in Zoe’s studio in Stromness, Orkney.

Tis The Season… To Support Your Local Makers

As we all know, 2020 has been a strange year. To add to it, we’re now facing a very different festive season too. After the events of 2020, it has never been more important to support your local makers and in turn, we can help you make this Christmas extra special.

Supporting local is so important – not only does it help them reinvest in their own business but the local community.

Gift shopping, I think, is a bit ‘marmite’. People either love it or hate it! Either way, I can help to make it easy for you. I have a range of stunning sets and individual pieces which will suit everyone and every occasion.

A gorgeous set with hints of gold from the Spring Tides Range is striking yet elegant to wear.
Jewellery set link: Large Gold Pebbles Pendant and Small Spring Tide Studs with Gold Pebbles

Jewellery sets make it easy for the recipient to be sure that they always have a matching look which is simple to choose and effortless to wear. My designs are bold, individual and give the ‘wow’ factor that the special people in your life deserve. Choose from the Spring Tides collection, offering sculptural and striking pendant and earring sets which are inspired by walks along the shore, or from the Barriers collection which features architectural, textured pieces inspired by the stacked placement of large blocks which make up the iconic Churchill Barriers.

Jewellery sets make a perfect gift for your loved one.
Left: Narrow Barriers Pendant with London Blue Topaz and Block Gemstone Earrings
Right: Large Ridge Pendant with Gemstones and Small Spring Tide Earrings with London Blue Topaz

For something extra special and completely unique, a gift from the Bespoke Collection really hits the mark. These are exclusive and customisable pieces made just for you. Truly distinctive jewellery crafted with your choice of stones.

A range of Bespoke Jewellery – some available to ship right away.

When you buy from me, or any local maker, you are not only purchasing exclusive handmade items, you are investing in that business and in turn, supporting and growing the local community. You are backing friends, neighbours and families. You might have seen the image which says, “every time you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance”? I’d like to confirm that this is true! Buying from local companies enables growth, creates jobs and develops connections. Each item I sell allows me to reinvest in my own business and in other people too. In addition, when you buy from smaller companies, you also get a much more personal touch.

When you buy from small, you usually get a more personalised service and wee perks.

From help choosing your items to creating plush packaging, local makers can help you directly. When you reach the checkout on my website, you can select ‘Free Gift Wrapping’ if you’d like your items to arrive with style! I can even write a personalised note or card to make it extra special – saving you time! Being eco-friendly is really important to me; using card, tissue paper and recycled items helps to create stunning and unique wrapping. I always keep it classy by finishing with a beautiful ribbon. Wrapping can be tailored to any occasion; think confetti for birthdays and snowflakes made from old music books for Christmas. Let me know what you need and I will ensure your gift looks magnificent.

Eco-friendly gift wrapping to make your purchase extra special.

If you’d like some help with your gift buying this Christmas, I’m here to help you select something truly memorable which will be treasured for a lifetime. You can browse the website HERE or you can contact me HERE for further assistance. Please note that due to Covid-19, things are taking a bit longer than usual so it’s wise to plan well in advance if you can and get your order in quickly. And remember… sometimes the best gift can be to you, from you!

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