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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One of my all-time favorite designs is my onyx and tsavorite skull ring …


Gotta love a skull. Click to see on my website.

… with diamonds hidden inside.



I’ve wanted to do a variation on this design for years — one that would be different enough for the onyx skull to keep its “one of a kind” status, but special in its own right. This spring, I decided that the special element would be vibrant color, and I put aside time to tackle the project.

I started early in April by asking a German gem carver to create a skull from “Sleeping Beauty” turquoise. I received the finished product at the end of May, loved it, spent about two weeks studying it … aaaand then I sent it back to the carver for some touch-ups. Neither the carver nor I were thrilled about the extra labor and shipping costs, but I couldn’t go forward with the ring knowing that my center stone need a few subtle tweaks to be perfect. This is the kind of thing that can happen when a jeweler is working on one-of-a-kind pieces, whether those are for inventory or specific customers. There is no factory stamping uniform parts out of molds. Each one-off element is in the hands of an individual artisan. For me, there’s no such thing as trying to pass off a piece that’s merely “good enough” to a customer down the line. I keep striving for perfection.

When the revised skull arrived in the summer, I brought it to my favorite goldsmith for the next steps. First, a wax model was made of the twisty, vine-y setting that’s become a signature of mine. Even though I’ve used this kind of setting before, one had to be specially made to fit the dimensions of the turquoise skull.


The skull in the wax setting.

Using the lost-wax casting technique, the wax model was used to create a mold, into which molten gold was poured to create the setting. Then came the rest of the color in the form of rubies.


The rubies in the setting, before the final addition of the skull.

Ultimately, 192 rubies, totaling 1.84 carats, went into this piece — December’s Jewel of the Month. These pictures were taken by Ed Parrinello of SquareMoose Photography.


Click to view on my website.

Here is the front view.


Click to view on my website.

I like it when a piece inspires my photographer to send an extra photo. Unlike the onyx ring, this skull didn’t need an inside shot because it doesn’t have hidden diamonds, so Ed gave me a version with a black background.

TurquoiseSkull Blackresize

Nice, right?

The black background is fabulous, isn’t it? Makes me wish I could shoot all my jewelry on black, but retailers and press always require white backgrounds, so I stick to the basics.  One person who requested a white-background shot was jewelry expert Cheryl Kremkow. I was honored when she included my ring on her Halloween list of “The Thirteen Best Skull Jewels.” I was blown away by the other pieces on the list, particularly the last one.


Click for source.

It turned out that that one is part of a 16th-century German rosary that’s owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Look at the amazing detail! This is the kind of artifact that’s on my mind when I’m creating one of my skull pieces. When people say skulls are trendy or not trendy … well, I just don’t care either way. To me, skulls are a motif for the ages, as I indicated in this post from 2007.

For my turquoise skull, as with many of my ultra-luxurious pieces, the price is available upon request. (What does that mean? Click here to find out.) If you do buy this as a holiday gift for someone you love or yourself — hey, who can buy you a better gift than you? — rest assured I’ll never make another one exactly like it. Your ring will always be unique. It is size 6.  To inquire, email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com.

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22 Responses to “Jewel of the Month: Turquoise and Ruby Skull Ring”

  1. Jennifer Schultz says:

    This has always been my favorite design of yours, and I’m excited to see it is still alive in the mind of the artist! js

  2. Marguerite (@chicspace) says:

    The vines look like fire on this one, it is simply amazing! (The onyx one is also fantastic, they are so different for being so similar.)

    Someday, Marie Antoinette….someday.

  3. stacy says:

    Nice? Nice doesn’t even begin to describe it! That ring is cramazing!
    I love it love it love it. And the onyx skull too. Covet them both.

  4. Ah, yes, another one to add to my wish list for when we win the lottery! I adore the black skull, and LOVE it in turquoise! Wonderful, Wendy, you’ve done it again.

  5. Poochie says:

    The colors are pretty spectacular!

  6. Cheryl says:

    For me it’s the combo of rubies and turquoise in yellow gold that makes this so spectacular. And to have that quality of turquoise carved into a skull is insane. In a good way, of course.

    • WendyB says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the carver has gone into the German equivalent of the Witness Protection Program to avoid having to do this again!

  7. Eryn says:

    I remember reviewing the skull over a late brunch with you and Stacy (before I officially worked for you)! So fun to see the final design. I never would have guessed that the setting was going to include rubies. Definitely a favorite.

    Also, can we just talk about how fitting it is that my “Anti-spam word” was “eminem”? Obviously they generate these based on your trending blog/design topics. 😉

  8. HelOnWheels says:

    WOW!!! That is a remarkable and spectacular ring. The color combination of the rubies and turquoise is so unusual and stunning. The amount of detail is unbelievable! It’s a work of art, Ms. Wendy. I’m coming for it, the Marie Antoinette, and the black onyx skull!!

  9. Tina says:


  10. futurelint says:

    Holy crap! That is beyond awesome! I’m a huge skull fan, and it’s hard to find ones that are sophisticated rather than being too juvenile or goth.

  11. Melanie says:

    Stunning. The bright blue is arresting. I love this.