Bespoke Jewellery Techniques
Elizabeth originally trained as a goldsmith and therefore always knows how she wants a piece to be made as she designs it. Below are some of her favourite techniques.
Wire and Granulation
Elizabeth is well known for her attention to detail and the different textures she uses for her gold work. Whilst studying on the Greek island of Crete, she learned how to make traditional gold beads known as granulation which are often used geometrically on jewellery. She wanted to use this ancient technique in a completely new way and the result is her free flowing scattered gold beads mixed with wire work designs. This is known as her wire and granulation finish and is a signature on many pieces.
Lost Wax Process
Wax is carved, melted and shaped until Elizabeth is happy with the design. The wax is then cast and hot liquid gold replaces the wax. Since the wax disappears during this process it is called the ‘lost’ wax process and each piece is one of a kind.
Achieved popularity in Europe during the sixteenth and eighteenth century. The ancient art of repoussé means the metal is hammered or shaped by working from the reverse side.
Elizabeth sometimes likes the front of her work to have a hammered finish, rather than a smooth polished one. This means the front of the piece is hammered and the marks made by the hammer remain as surface detail.
The linen finish which appears on so many of Elizabeth’s Templar rings is hand engraved to mimic the fine cross hatching of linen. Labour intensive, with great care required when the ring is polished to avoid spoiling the surface, it is an essential element to these rings.
Before a piece can be enamelled the area to be enamelled must be hand carved and the gold engraved with a design which will enhance the enamel. This is a very important part of enamelling as the way the carved metal reflects light will affect the final colour of the enamel. Enamel is finely ground glass which is carefully applied to the gold before being fired in a kiln. The heat fuses it to the gold and after cooling the surface is rubbed down with a pumice, this process is repeated 2-3 times for each colour. As different colours have different melting temperatures, some only a few degrees lower than the melting point of gold, great care needs to be taken with heating and cooling each piece. Special care needs to be taken by the goldsmith when he makes an item for enamelling because any small imperfection could shatter the enamel. Enamelling is a complicated process, as many factors can affect the final colour, so guaranteeing a specific colour is never possible.
Many people add personal messages to jewellery by engraving the back or inside of a piece, however, Elizabeth often uses these skills to enhance a design. Fine lines are engraved around stones and the dates of coins will be decoratively added.