Emanuela Duca – The Ruins of Rome

Yet another maker whose work I’ve admired for a long time, Emanuela Duca is the queen of texture and blackened silver as far as I’m concerned. Born in Rome and currently based there and in New York’s Hudson Valley, her pieces are beautifully minimal and ohhhh so tactile; ‘evocative of volcanic ash and the ancient ruins of her native Rome‘. Check out her lovely minimal website here.

ED49R Roccia ring, 18k yellow gold, blackened sterling silver, white diamond
ED49R Roccia Ring. 18k yellow gold, blackened sterling silver, white diamond
ED96B Burst Cuff Blackened sterling silver. 23k Keum boo, 18k yellow gold, rose cut diamond
ED96B Burst Cuff. Blackened sterling silver, 23k keum boo, 18k yellow gold, rose cut diamond
ED96R Floating in the Dark ring. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED96R Floating in the Dark Ring. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED104B Hudson VAlley bracelet. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED104B Hudson Valley Bracelet. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED22N Sand Necklace. sterling silver
ED22N Sand Necklace, sterling silver


Luke Maninov Hammond

Have you ever wondered what the Biophilia Hypothesis is and what it has to do with jewellery? No? Me neither. But when I came across the work of Luke Maninov Hammond I decided to find out.

The word biophilia was first coined by the German social phychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and humanist philosopher Erich Fromm and it means ones’ innate ‘love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom‘. In other words, we humans are naturally drawn to the life force, to survival itself. It’s a concept that Luke likes to explore in his jewellery and I’m guessing that’s because apart from his work as a jeweller he’s also a neuroscience imaging technician who spends a lot of time in the realm of high resolution 3D microscopic imagery of cellular forms within the brain. So while his scientific side facilitates the study of things like sleep and consciousness along with diseases such as Alzheimers and Schizophrenia, his artistic side ‘is focused on reimagining biological form to explore themes of impermanence, consciousness and the connection between all living things. Through the study of organic structures that define life his novel creations instil a sense of wonder whilst also connecting complex biological and metaphysical ideas’.

Take a look and see what you think…because thinking is what it’s all about 😉

-gold-shield-ring_ 18ct white and yellow gold, austalian parti shapphire
Gold Shield Ring. 18ct white and yellow gold, austalian parti sapphire
cerulean-odyssey- object. sterling silver, gold plating australian spphirrs, london blue topaz blue apphites white saphhires 300 mm tall
Cerulean Odyssey Object. sterling silver, gold plating, australian sapphires, london blue topaz, blue sapphires, white sapphires. 300 mm tall
silver-cajal-ring_.jpgsterling silver,patina yellow australian sapphire
Silver Cajal Ring. sterling silver, patina, yellow australian sapphire
upright-towers-ring_9ct rose gold and white diamond 31mm x 10mm x 2.7mm
Upright Towers Ring. 9ct rose gold, diamond
LMH_Surfacing-earringsblue green sapphires 14 ct gold
Surfacing Earrings. blue green sapphires, 14ct gold
luke-maninov-hammond--graceful inner-islands-cufflinks_oxidized silver fused gold leaf
Graceful Inner Islands Cufflinks. oxidized silver, fused gold leaf

The Morphing Ring

I love raw stones and have always wanted to learn how to set them using lost wax. The trick in working with the wax is to be able to form the wax around the stone and more importantly to be able to remove the stone without messing up the model before casting. This purple wax is quite stiff compared to blue or pink wax so I decided to build up the setting to a certain point and add prongs AFTER the casting was done. That was the plan.

Wax with Jelly Opal

After casting the stone fit easily into it’s setting but it needed those strategically placed prongs to hold it securely in place.

The jelly opal resting in it’s silver setting after casting

Now, this is where things got ugly and I must admit it’s because I’d been impatient at this point (ie; I didn’t take the time to properly file clean joints between the ring and the new prongs and I used way too much heat). But I was also liking the reticulation happening on all the once-smooth droplets so I kept going.

Addition of 3 new prongs to set the opal

Now…if you’ve ever worked with solder you’ll know it reaches a split-second magic moment in time when it glows and then flows through a joint. If you’re not paying attention for even a second you can miss that moment.  And as you continue to apply heat the metal does what metal does as it changes from solid to almost molten – it shrinks into itself, with droplets coalescing into other droplets nearby, forming random lumps. Soooo…now my carefully carved ring was reticulated (nice) but had 2 ugly lumps in it. I figured I could still work with it though. Plan B was to saw off the prongs, anneal the shank and see if I could magically secure the opal this time using only the lumps and droplets to hold it.

Of course I split the jelly opal trying to pry open one of the cracked prongs (fffffff…) and plan B morphed into plan C which was to find a new stone…a sun stone that seemed to fit in it’s place. So I annealed the shank and got to work coaxing the existing blobs and droplets around the sun stone.

Removal of 3 new prongs with a new stone

Yeah, no. It wasn’t meant to be. I could NOT get the stone to sit securely in the end because the blobs were too thick to move. So…I thought – what the hell, I’ll add some more blobs to this blobby ring and use the existing caverns between them to set some CZs, a total 180 degree shift from using a lovely raw stone.

Blobs with 3 CZs

But now I couldn’t get beyond the look of the ring with those gigantic blobs. It was off balance, sooo…out came the CZs as I contemplated throwing the shank into my crucible in absolute defeat. That was when plan D came into focus which was to attack the shank with the toothiest burr I could find, maybe out of anger, I don’t know. So now all those carefully melted and placed wax droplets I’d placed on the ring in the first place were chewed down. At last I set a white topaz into it which is a million miles from the raw stone(s) I’d started with.

I’ll leave it on the shelf for a while so I can work on other pieces. It’ll sit in that limbo between ‘work in progress’ and ‘done!’ so that in a few weeks I can see it with fresh eyes, this wretched morphed ring.

White Topaz 

Update: after some fiddling and a sore back from bending over my vice here is the finished ring…set with a mixture of 7 faceted stones including the white topaz, and assorted CZs from my random collection. Amen.