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Chapter 1: The story of an "outdoorsy" cufflinks commission!

I thought I would share with you the story of my latest commission as it involves a friend asking me for "something with an outdoorsy-feel" in a pair of cuff links as present for her husband who although he spends his days in an office, likes to be reminded of holidays and the great outdoors whilst at work. Perhaps a tall order you may think? But I like a challenge and a story when it comes to jewellery making so we were off to a good start!

We discussed themes to explore in semi precious stones. I identified some possible candidates including picture jasper which resembles a miniature sandy landscape or perhaps a sandy beach? (Photos of these stones: Credit to Jacqueline Austin of Kingsclere Gems on Facebook)

Or perhaps Apache tears (a variation on obsidian - black volcanic glass with shiny silhouettes that can look like a mountain range) or Turitella fossil, an agate featuring numerous miniature fossilised spiral-shaped snail shells, all interesting stones in their own right!

On further discussion the colours "green and especially blues, and walks on the moors" emerged, and would perhaps making them from glass be an option? Now I really enjoy making glass so I made sample pieces at Rainbow Glass Studios with this in mind, and cut and fire-polished my own cabochons from them.

Some came out with a very autumnal feel and others like looking into rock pools or the fresh colours of the sky and clouds when walking on the hills. I have to say I loved making them and having shown them to my friend we agreed I'd work on setting the paler light blue, white and green cabochons into sterling silver bezels to mount onto the cuff link settings.

I think these glass stones will work well against the mirror-polished silver. I've been busy making the bezels (the little silver cups shown below) prior to mounting the cabochons in them.

So far so good!

It's important to note which setting belongs to which "stone" as they are very similar but I make each silver bezel individually to fit the glass cabochon in question.

My next step is to polish the bezel mounts before setting my glass into them as this will be more easily achieved before the final assembly!

I am hoping to complete the cufflinks this week and will report back with pictures of the finished commission shortly.

What a privilege to be working on this very personal gift and to be building in an "outdoorsy" story into them at the same time.

Watch this space for chapter two next week - thank you for your interest! Eleanor

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