Firstly I would like to introduce myself to you, my name is Holly, I am 23 years old and last week I started my jeweller’s apprenticeship with Sam at Eskae Private Jeweller.
So far it has been a very exciting week and a half. I have been lucky enough to start not only making jewellery straight away but begin creating and designing my own pieces of jewellery too.
My first day began with making probably the most exciting piece – a silver gents wedding style band. This is my first ring and piece of jewellery I have ever made, which made it even more special and exciting.
I started creating the ring by rolling out a piece of silver on a machine called a ‘rolling mill’, I then used a handsaw to cut the metal to size, I then learnt a very important technique in making jewellery – ‘soldering’. This is where you are able to join two or more pieces of metal together, in this case the ends of metal are soldered together to form one flowing circle. After soldering, I was shown how to file the metal to make it even and smooth. Lastly I put a bevelled edge on each side of the ring, which gives the ring interest and definition. All I need to do now to finish the piece is to polish it so that it comes up nice and shiny.
One of the other pieces of jewellery I hand-made was a pair of 18ct yellow gold and Akoya salt water pearl earrings. Sam gave me a design to create – a smooth shepard hook of fine wire, with one Akoya pearl suspended on the end of each pair. I found this piece quite challenging, as I had to begin by rolling and drawing out a piece of gold into very thin wire. (I must say, muscles are definitely required for this kind of work). Another reason why the earrings were challenging to make was that earrings of course need to be completely matching. And as the hooks were hand made individually, it was tricky matching and bending them into the same shapes. During the making of the earrings, I was able to learn a lot about using pliers and which directions and positions to place them, in order to achieve a particular curve.
This week the most important technique I learnt was what sort of flame to use on various heating techniques e.g. if I am soldering something I need to use a stronger smaller flame, which has more blue in the tip of the flame, as opposed to a technique called ‘annealing’ which is where you heat up the metal to make it more malleable. In annealing I need to use what Sam calls a ‘fluffy’ flame, which not only has a blue flame, but the tip of the flame has an orange colour to it, it is softer and less aggressive than a soldering flame, which allows me to achieve a more even heat across the length of the gold or silver I am working with.
All in all, last week has been great! I met suppliers, began my journey as a jeweller and even got to create some fun pieces of jewellery.
I can’t wait to tell you what this week entails.