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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Phew! January’s Jewel of the Month sneaked in just under the wire.  Fine jewelry, like the cheese in Cheez-Its, can’t be rushed into maturity.

A jewelry designer without her own factory must work with other people’s schedules. Last year, I wrote about lost-wax casting, a process in which a design is carved in hard wax. A mold is created from the wax model, and metal is poured into that mold. Then all the work of perfecting the design, setting the stones and polishing the metal starts. An elaborate wax piece must be carved with care. Measurements are crucial. Metal has to be a certain thickness if I’m going to set stones in it. Even if I’m using an existing mold, I can’t always get the metal casting immediately. My jobs get scheduled in at a metal caster along with many other jewelers’ jobs.

There are other complicating factors. For instance, metal casters might only pour white gold twice a week (it was once a week during the worst of the recession). Sometimes I pick up the metal casting and find out the metal is porous — full of tiny holes that weaken the piece. Then that metal needs to be melted down and the process started all over again.  Rushing a gem setter can be counterproductive because a bad job shows. I’ve seen plenty of inexpensive (and even expensive) jewelry with uneven or otherwise poorly set gems. That’s something I won’t tolerate.

When Black Swan came out last month and people swooned over Natalie Portman’s performance, I thought, “I MUST do a black-diamond version of my Cleves swan ring!”

Two views of my original 18K gold and diamond Cleves ring. Click to shop.

I made the first Cleves ring, shown above, to match my onyx Cleves necklace. Both are named after Henry VIII’s fourth and smartest wife, Anne of Cleves. I proved that Anne was a damn genius in this post from 2007. Anne was born in Schwanenburg Castle — translated as Swan Castle.

The Cleves necklace. Click to shop.

I like doing variations on existing styles so I have something for a variety of tastes and budgets. I have a silver Cleves ring too.

Silver and diamond Cleves ring. Click to shop.

I made the original Cleves rings in 2008, two years after I first envisioned them.

The wax model in 2008. Click for original post.

Since I already had a mold for the ring, the black-diamond version didn’t take me as long. I got the metal for the ring cast in December, as soon as I came up with the concept, but that month was pretty much shot as far as getting any additional work done. In December, everyone is rushing to finish up their holiday orders. It’s not a good time to start something new. Considering the time I lost over the holidays, I got this ring done fairly quickly — just over two weeks.  Here is my “Black Swan” version of the Cleves ring in 18K yellow gold and black diamonds.

Cleves ring with black diamonds, $6,950. Photo by SquareMoose. Click to shop.

Cleves ring with black diamonds, $6,950. Photo by SquareMoose. Click to shop.

The perfect gift for the deranged ballerina in your life!

Natalie Portman in Black Swan.

The idea for the Black Swan ring first hit me during a conversation I was having with Laura, the lovely owner of Broken English Jewelry in Santa Monica, Calif. Thanks for the inspiration, Laura! Laura carries the original Cleves ring style. Click here to shop for it at Broken English. I’ve got one more swan-related piece on the way. Stay tuned!

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40 Responses to “Jewel of the Month: Black Swan Ring”

  1. deja pseu says:

    Stunning!! Ms. Portman should wear it to the Oscars!

  2. Omg, I LOVE it in this variation!! My favorite 🙂

  3. Ooh, love it! I’d love a version in white gold or silver with the black diamonds… mostly because I’m not a yellow gold girl. But there’s something so haunting about black diamonds…

  4. Christine says:

    Wendy, this is absolutely gorgeous!

    I love the original but I think I like this one even more!


  5. Kristin says:

    That is incredibly beautiful. I think Natalie needs one!

  6. STUNNING. I really like this variation, it’s darkly beautiful.

  7. Wendy, brilliant. Love seeing process because it just gives such depth to appreciating the end result. I absolutely think this is the most amazing design ever.

    Beautiful and wonderful.

  8. K-Line says:

    Ooooh, it’s so dramatic. I love black diamonds. Really, I love diamonds any way you do them.

  9. Tina says:

    I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

  10. Lexie says:

    is it possible to send this to natalie to wear when she accepts her oscar?! seriously, it’s perfection.

  11. Very chic and mysterious!

  12. Eli says:

    Simply stunning! how do the diamonds stay in the setting, I can’t really tell from the photo myself but do they have tiny prongs like a ring would?

  13. Jacqueline says:

    Beautiful. I have a non-deranged ballerina in my life who would love this but her 6 year old hands are not nearly big enough. I hope you keep on creating gorgeous pieces for years to come.

  14. Yes, that Henry picked some really smart women to marry, didn’t he? (Apart from that poor Catherine Howard!) And you always do honor those women really well! This ring, for example, is gorgeous. But so much more fab with the black diamonds! Good work, WendyB. As usual!

  15. Lynn says:

    The black diamonds make the piece enigmatic and almost whimsical. LOVE! Good job, yet again, Wendy!

  16. Lenya Jones says:

    Oh no, something else I need to have in my collection. I love it.

  17. Style Eyes says:

    beautiful ring, I love it! Really interesting to hear how it is made too.

  18. Both the ring and the necklace are gorgeous. As a deranged ballerina, heh heh, I’d wear them anytime. Still waiting for that movie to make it to Paris.

  19. Beautiful ring – and Deja Pseu is absolutely right, Natalie Portman needs one! We’re off to see Black Swan this afternoon.

  20. mystyle says:

    Hi my dear-I’ve always adored the silver Cleves ring, the Black Swan is just so stunning and beautiful, very well done-your creativity never ceases to amaze me! xx

  21. Well that ring is divine anyway so now it must be uberdivine!!

  22. Marissa says:

    Gah! You’ve got to stop making all this lust-worthy jewelry. My pocketbook can’t handle it. 😉

  23. Marian says:

    oh I love it in the black stones.It adds a dark drama to it

  24. Marian says:

    p.s I love the new header!

  25. It’s really beautiful. Saw the film tonight and liked it. I think it captures the darkness beautifully.

  26. sofi says:

    I didn’t see Black Swan, but I heard such good things about it. I can’t believe you actually made those rings. They are amazing. WOW. Each one I saw as I scrolled down I was thinking, “Now THAT one is my favorite!” I really like the silver one a LOT, but the black diamonds one, wow. I didn’t even know there was such thing as black diamonds….Very impressive. Cool blog.

  27. Natalie MUST have this ring! I feel sure she would win the Oscar if she wore it. It was my favorite film of the year( and beyond) and Iove your swantastic designs. Brilliant!!

  28. I saw Black Swan yesterday and loved it. And that ring is absolutely gorgeous! Such a great design.

  29. Mardel says:

    This version is utterly fantastic, but perhaps I am just partial to black diamonds. I like it better than the original version.

  30. Kalee says:

    I look at your pieces often and think, someday, maybe 10 years from now I’ll have saved up enough for one. This ring just moved to near the top of the list!

  31. Lovely! I really like the silver ring, simply because I am very partial to silver (well platinum too). And the anti-spam word was “amethyst” which is my favorite stone and birth stone, not that that really matters to this comment LOL

  32. drollgirl says:

    very pretty! and elegant! lovely!

  33. Lyddiegal says:

    simply gorgeous!
    I actually just saw black swan this past weekend. what a disturbing movie, ah ahah.

  34. kirsty says:

    that ring is gorgeous xxxx

  35. ali says:

    In my Henry VIII wife obsession days (8th grade?) Anne of Cleves was my favorite!!!

    Boleyn being a close second because she’s so witchy and tragic.

    These jewelry making posts are my favorite. I was left curious about the wax carving part of this process in your earlier posts!

  36. Natalie should wear this during her Oscar acceptance speech. Just gorgeous.

  37. Al says:

    oh I absolutly love your rings !