10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Picking favorites is not one of my favorite things because there are too many good choices. So to come up with a list of much loved back issues of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, I decided to pick one issue from each year of the last decade.

ABOVE: John Heusler’s “jessite” agate cuff was inset on the January/February 2014 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist; photo: Jim Lawson

Based primarily on the piece that’s on the cover, here are my favorites from 2007 to 2016:
10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Michael Good Earrings, July 2007

I have spent decades admiring the jewelry and sculpture of Michael Good, and was in awe when he agreed to share his demo on anticlastic raising with LJJA readers in July 2007. Michael Good isn’t just an artist who does this, he developed the technique for jewelry making and his name is synonymous with it. I don’t know what the magic is in bending metal into opposing curves, but I am captivated by the results of this technique. Other jewelry designers use anticlastic forming to great effect, but Michael Good is the master. I could just follow the lines of these earrings all day long, watching them flow up and around and back down, inside/outside highlighted by the changing patinated bronze and 22K gold surfaces, tapering right down to the ear wires that are inseparable from the jewelry design itself.

Also interesting in this issue, ear wire design and watermelon tourmaline; but those earrings . . .

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Michael Boyd Cuff, September 2008

After all that swooning over Michael Good’s earrings, you might think I’d be setting out cover after cover of subtle finesse — but while I believe less can be more, I also love more. Michael Boyd layers the coolest, strangest stones, one on top of another, into outstanding pieces that look different from every angle. He often throws in a little movement for fun, as in the rolling bead ends of this super-layered cuff. In discussing the basics of design and demonstrating how to develop a design one idea at a time, Michael explains how he manages to pull so much together so harmoniously.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Brian Meek’s married metal fan brooch; photo: Jim Lawson

Other highlights: ultimate wire jewelry designs by Alexander Calder; learn to marry metals making a delicate fan brooch

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Marilyn Mack Pendant, February 2009

This cut and set project is one of everybody’s favorite jewelry designs because it’s just so pretty. I also love the extremely special stone that everything else revolves around: not just a sparkly drusy gem, but drusy kinoite, a mineral that is seldom set in jewelry whatever kind of surface it has.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Panamanian artisans carved these New World orchid and lily designs into New World shell, making them distinct from traditional cameo subjects and materials; photo: Jim Lawson.

Also of note: flex-shaft burs and an emerging cottage industry in cameo carving in Panama using local shells.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

John Iverson Pin, December 2010

So graceful and quiet, this autumn leaf is poised to drift toward the ground as light and gentle as air. Since it’s actually sterling silver and sizable, though, it’s just as well the leaf has been made into a pin with an appropriately strong finding. A friend of mine has one of these pins and it is absolutely stunning on the lapel of her winter coat, as if it had just landed there from an oak tree above. Iverson was featured in a Trends report on why certain jewelers favor silver.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

How to Solder Jewelry ran as a series in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist starting in December 2010; photo: Jim Lawson

Also: the first installment of our celebrated How to Solder Jewelry series by Lexi Erickson, and a demo on turning any cabochon into a carved gem with a flex shaft by Roger Halas.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

George Sawyer Rings, November 2011

Mokumé gané, the Japanese metalsmithing technique that creates patterned metal using differently colored metal layers, might seem complex enough, but no, George Sawyer, known for his mokumé jewelry designs for many years, had to take it further. After creating his own patterned sheet, he etches away some of the upper layers to create 3D mokumé. Featured as part of a look at noted jewelry artists and their signature techniques.

Also: all about files, studio organization, small torches.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Ethiopian Opal and John Heusler Ring, January/February 2012

!!!!!!! Not one but two very distinct deposits of a dazzling gemstone: that’s the news from Ethiopia.
See how the gold lines of the ring play off the lines in the stone’s pattern? Nice touch from John Heusler in this cut and fabricate project using opal from Shewa Province. That Ethiopian opal, available sporadically for maybe 25 years, displays its flashes of red and more on high-contrast, chocolatey ground. In 2008, a highly translucent opal, often with a yellow base and brilliant fire, was discovered in Ethiopia’s Welo district. By 2011, beautiful, facetable Welo opal showed great promise of considerable output and becoming a market staple. It’s still on the market today.

Also: coquina, a graphically patterned stone, and no-solder tab setting.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg Ring, May/June 2013

As dynamic and unexpected as this ring design is, what’s most interesting about it is how its creation was driven by 3D printing. Designed with a CAD program, the ring was cast in silver from a mold created from a printed wax model. As described in this feature story, 3D printing directly in precious metals remains challenging today, but it is increasingly used for jewelry wax modeling and printing in other materials, even in small studios.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Sam Patania’s turquoise and silver cuff; photo: Jim Lawson

And for classic hands-on lapidary and fabrication, a Sam Patania turquoise cabochon in a silver cuff.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Lexi Erickson Bolo, January/February 2014

Fun one! I asked Lexi to do a project for a ladies’ bolo tie, and she went all out with a glittering red heart, golden colored drusy accents, and a partial bezel overflowing into ribbons of silver: a perfect package for the Valentine’s Day timing.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

John Heusler’s tiered agate cuff; photo: Jim Lawson

Other pretty sweet projects: Bill Fretz’s bangle with rolling beads that won’t fall out, and John Heusler’s tiered cuff with a knockout new agate.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Bill Fretz Ring, March 2015

Simple all the way around, this mountain ring, named for its center peak, is a circle of silver wire that’s a little bent, a little textured, and can be made with a few tools in as little 45 minutes — or half that if you make a few at a time. I couldn’t wear the Valentine bolo too often, but I could wear this ring every day and still find its slopes and hammered surface interesting.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Lexi Erickson’s black drusy pendant; photo: Jim Lawson

Also: titanium-coated drusy quartz that’s really black and really sparkly, and an elegant pendant project featuring it.

10 Favorite Jewelry Designs, 10 Favorite Issues

Roger Halas Pendant, May/June 2016

Ever inventive, here Roger Halas looks at the meandering lines of mokumé gané metal and sees not the traditional inspiration of wood grain but the rippling patterns of sunlight in water, dappling a stingray as it slides above the wave-induced ridges of the seabed. Making his own mokumé sheet, Roger knows how to custom design a pattern for the effect he wants and lets everyone else in on the secret.

Also: underappreciated sphene gems and cool new ways to incorporate photography into jewelry designs.

Merle White

Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

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