New Work: Gold and Silver Barnacle Earrings

I was recently fortunate to participate in a jewelry show, along with 4 other jewelers, at Designer Gold in Hanover, NH where I also work. In the months prior to the show I was caught up in a wave of activity that took hold of the studio. The atmosphere of creativity and hard work was infectious. I find it hard to work in a vacuum and crave the communal aspect of making jewelry. The show presented an opportunity to take design chances and finally realize ideas that had been kicking around my head for months. Also, a recent visit from a stone dealer left me with some incredible stones I wanted to incorporate into the barnacle collection. Despite my best efforts to plan ahead, I worked up to the last possible minute. I got up early the day of the show, did some rowing pieces on my erg at home and set the last two stones in a pair of barnacle earrings. Deadlines tend to stress me out, but without them I don’t know if I would ever finish a project!

Below are images of the steps taken to complete the last 3 pairs of barnacle earrings for the show:

The first earrings included a pair of cobalto calcite druzies with sterling silver barnacles. I created bezels to match the uneven surface of the stones and soldered on silver back plates imprinted with a leaf texture.

jewelry making process photo of sterling silver barnacle earrings with cobalt calcite druse drops

The final product:

Sterling silver single barnacle earrings with cobalt calcite druse

The next pair were 14 karat yellow gold barnacle cluster earrings with natural surface lapis and 22 karat yellow gold bezels.

The first step was to create bezels to fit the stones out of 22 karat gold. The lapis had a irregular surface. I then cut the top of the bezels to match the asymmetries of the stones.

process photo bezel earrings with 14 karat yellow 3 barnacle earrings with lapis

I then soldered both bezels to a flat sheet of 14 karat yellow gold to create the back plate for the stones.

Soldering bezel to gold sheet (3 barnacle lapis earrings)

In order to finish the bezel, I cut away the extra metal from the outside and sawed out designs on the interior. This added extra detail to the back and had the additional benefit of reducing the weight of the earring and saving on the cost of gold.

jewelry process photo: sawing out designs on back plate (3 barnacle lapis)

I filed the outside of the bezels and attached them to the barnacle stud earrings using a laser welder.

jewelry making process creating Bezels for lapis stones (3 barnacle lapis)      jewelry making process attaching bezels to earrings studs (3 barnacle lapis)

The last steps were a final polish and to set the lapis.

Polishing 3 barnacle cluster earrings with natural surface lapis      Front and back (3 barnacle lapis)

Finished!

3-barnacle-14ky-lapis-earrings

The last pair of earrings combined some beautiful light blue smithsonite druzy with 14 karat yellow gold barnacle clusters. These process followed similar steps as above, but the goal was to create a hanging earrings similar to the first silver and cobalto calcite pair.

22k bezels (barnacle cluster smithsonite)     saw (barnacle cluster smithsonite)

Once I soldered the bezels onto the base plate and cut out the interior of the bezel, I connected the barnacle earrings to the bezels with a half jump ring. I chose to laser weld the jump ring to minimize the risk of melting the bezel while soldering.

assemble components (barnacle cluster smithsonite)

The last step was to set the stones. The crystalline surface of the smithsonite made them particularly brittle and special attention was given to not chipping off any of the druse.

set stones (barnacle cluster smithsonite)   back view (barnacle cluster smithsonite)

Completed without a minute to spare!

Barnacle Cluster 14 karat yellow gold smithsonite druse earrings

I have one more pair of natural surface lapis stones. My intention is to make one more pair of dangle earrings, maybe with tiny diamond sent into the barnacles. What do you think?

3 barnacle drops w.lapis

(The blue in the photo, besides the lapis, is wax. Hopefully is will look shinier in gold!)