Thursday, October 31, 2013 6:29:36 PM
The My Opera news is quite a disappointment.
Sunday, October 20, 2013 9:11:50 PM
The weather forecast didn't say it was going to rain in Cape Town tonight, so whats with this rain may I ask ?.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:12:11 PM
A retail jeweller client of mine, of many years also has many clients who have been buying jewellery from him for generations. One such lady's husband bought her a very large Tanzanite gem. Set into a pendant and surrounded by brilliant white diamonds for the colour contrast. To imagine a Tanzanite, think of deep violet velvet with a slight sparkle to it, they are beautiful and rare gemstones.
Now because this lady was such a special client, she was sometimes invited by the retail jeweller to come to my jewellery manufacturing workshop to see the actual making of a piece of jewellery she had ordered. This Tanzanite pendant was one such piece. When the lady arrived at the workshop, the pendant was nearing completion and was being polished in the polishing room, where we have various types of machinery. A lot of rouge is used in polishing the jewellery and apart from shining up the metal, a lot of rouge dust gets all over the piece of jewellery in the process. The excess dust is then cleaned off of the jewellery with a specifically designed steam cleaning machine which can be adjusted to clean a two millimeter square spot when necessary. This accuracy is necessary when working with large gemstones so that you can steam clean the gold right next to the stone without changing the temperature of the gemstone too much or too quickly. A rapid heating or cooling can be fatal to some gemstones. Tanzanites included.
About a month after this at her home, the lady was showing her friends her new piece of jewellery and everyone was handling it to admire and hold close, so it became dull with everyones fingerprints all over it. She decided to clean it, and instead of just wiping it clean with a soft cloth, she went to her cappuccino machine in her kitchen and held the Tanzanite directly under the steam nozzle for a few minutes, making it nice and clean and shiny and Hot. Then she rinsed it under the cold tap.
That broke it !
Right down the middle, so she now had two Tanzanites.
She phoned the jeweller immediately and asked him to find her a replacement Tanzanite identical to the one she had just broken. She wanted it as quickly as possible so that she could replace it before her husband found out about it. A replacement stone was found and re-set into the pendant. The stone was obviously not identical, but very close. The two pieces of the original stone were kept in the Jewellers safe for sometime in the future.
I think that someone at a good lapidary workshop could cut them into a matching pair for a pair of earrings for her or she could have them made up into pendants for her daughters to wear.
Something will be done with them. She does own them after all.
Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:56:34 PM
There is a long association between Diamonds and Bentleys in that Barney Barnarto's money, derived from the diamond mines of Kimberley, South Africa, bailed out the Company Bentley from bankruptcy, re-capitalising them successfully. It is due to this fact that many a new Bentley model has had its 'world launch' in that little old town of Kimberley.
But this story of Diamonds and Bentleys has got nothing to do with that really.
I knew this man personally. He worked for a company which specialised in diamond setting within the jewellery trade. In Johannesburg, in 1983. A boom time in the financial Capitol of South Africa.
This man was an expert amongst experts, his skills were quite likely the best in the world at the time and he worked very hard for long hours every day, working half days on Saturdays and Sundays. He earned a fortune setting diamonds into jewellery. He played hard too. For his personal use he had a Mercedes Sport, a Mustang and a Bentley. Every day he would park the car he went to work in - in the parking building of the Carlton Centre in the central business district of Johannesburg. When he decided to stop working for the day, which was usually between 9 and 10pm, he would walk across the road to the five star Carlton Hotel and have a few drinks before going home. Sometimes a few too many. On this particular occasion, I would say, he had definately had too many Dimple Scotch Wiskeys before getting into his Bentley to drive home.
At the bottom of the parking building exit ramp, was a boom which he did not stop at but knocked out of the way as he drove through. Then, having just driven down a steep ramp, he was doing quite a speed and turned into Commissioner Street, but a Bentley is not a nimble car and can't take a 90 degree corner at 90 kilometers per hour, so he careered into cars parked on the opposite side of the street. Wiping out three of them.
It was at this stage, I suppose, that he "awoke" to what had just happened, whereupon he slammed his foot flat down on the accelerator of this very powerful motorcar. The car shunted another two cars out of its path, then crossed the road again and plowed into five more parked cars before coming to a standstill. Now a wreck itself.
He was not injured at all and neither was anyone else. The police drove him to his home and the whole incident never even made it into the newspapers.
I do know however, that it cost him a hang of a lot of money to fix.
Friday, January 6, 2012 8:58:21 PM
On Christmas Eve, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, broadcast (live) The Pope saying Christmas Mass.
Gold, gold everywhere ! Not gold leaf either, but solid gold ! They don't mess about there.
The Chalice which The Pope held up was encrusted with thousands of diamonds. Very old ones. They (the diamonds) are flat at the bottom and faceted on top only, they are not round as modern cut diamonds are but rather follow the natural shape of the rough diamond. Common practice at the time was to cut eight facets on one side of a cleaved rough stone, and they are still sparkling ! A modern cut stone, cut round, has fifty-eight facets and is called a brilliant cut. They give you all the colours of the rainbow in quite spectacular fashion.
A piece of jewellery I made for my Mother is a Crucifix which she still wears every day. The cross itself is 18ct yellow gold. In the middle is an oval caboshon star ruby, trailing out over the bars of the cross are golden topaz stones calibrated in colour from deep dark gold colour right next to the ruby, to a light gold colour at the ends of the bars. On the very top of the cross is a swivelling triangular link which allows both sides of the cross to be seen because on the other side, is a platinum figure of Christ with the INRI sign at the top, also in platinum. It's not a very big piece of jewellery, so not gawdy, but subtle in presentation and impressive in the detail. If I say so myself.
An extremely odd piece of 'jewellery' I made for my Mother a million years ago is a hand carved relief in wood of the Madonna and Child with diamonds embedded into the wood as halos around their heads. Six around the Christ childs and twelve around the Madonnas' . . . . odd indeed.
Gay customers, celebrating an anniversary of being together. That would have been a wedding anniversary today. but anyway, they wanted silver 'chalices' or goblets (matching) with gemstones they had bought on their travels around the world. All sorts shapes and colours, and nothing small. Now those pieces of 'jewellery' were big and flashy, nothing subtle there, and as you know by now, I like flashy too, but I don't personally wear flash.
Sunday, December 18, 2011 10:47:33 PM
Five meters (sixteen feet) of eighteen carat white gold handmade chain to drape around the Christmas tree.
I made that for a German couple who live here in Cape Town. They were / are quite eccentric people, both long since retired. They only ever wore black clothing and their choice of daily commute was a rather grand black Mercedes Benz. A collectors car. Very pleasant people indeed. They still use the chain to decorate their Christmas tree.
That's all I can remember having made specifically for Christmas. Of course there have been a lot of things people have given each other in celebration of Christmas. Beautiful jewellery, very extravagant pieces and ordinary pieces. Many people choose this time of year to present each other with jewellery. In fact probably more so than any other time of year.
What's on my mind though is all the glitter, the gold and silver baubles, the tinsel. . . I think I must be a "closet-glitter-queen" because I love it all.
What puts it all to shame though is the interior decorations of The Hermitage in St Petersburg Russia. I still have my entrance ticket. To say that it is grand is an understatement. It is a mind blowingly over the top in your face grandiose display of excessive and unlimited wealth. ! And I love it ! Let them eat cake !There, you see, I am what I said earlier. I admit it. Just as well, considering the trade I'm in.
On a slightly philosophical and introspective note, the house looks plain from the outside, but inside is an avalanche of senses which can only be taken in, one room at a time.
Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:41:33 PM
An upmarket retail jeweller approached me to take on a complicated and delicate job, requiring 'superior skills'. The job was; to set square cut emeralds flush into an 18ct yellow gold halfround shaped wide band (ring)
Emeralds are so delicate that pressure from your finger-nail can break one, especially the smaller ones. There is no such thing as a flawless emerald. That's just how they are.
The ring was brought to me made up and with the square holes already fretted out by the jeweller who made the band. Only problem was, the jeweller had cut all the holes skew. The squares were not square but sort-of-square and not lined up, all at different angles. I thought Oh well, an inexperienced young jeweller or one who just doesn't care. No wonder they can't find anyone else to do this job. I put the ring and emeralds neatly on the bench and left them there for a while to let the job sink into my mind, mulling over it subcociously for a few hours while doing other things. Then I was ready.
I sat down and started carving out the holes to the correct dimensions, dragging them this way and that, all handwork. One works to fractions of a millimeter, then fitting each emerald into its own specific seating, one can begin to mould the gold over the edges of the hole, making it 'travel' till tiny tiny bits of it touch the emeralds top facets. Very gently and one hundred percent equal pressure on all four sides of the stone, but not touching the corners. The corners of the stone have to float inside the gold because they can't take any pressure at all.
Three working days later, I was finished. There were between fifteen and twenty emeralds in the ring, all the way around. The green stones in contrast to the yellow gold is beautiful. Having done the job, I decided to take it back to the client myself. I walked there, just around the block. Then, sitting down at his desk in his office, I took it out of my pocket and gave it to him. He looked at it very closely and from every angle and said "I see you've lined up all the emeralds," I said Yes ! And as I was taking in a breath to start talking about what an extremely difficult job it was to do that, he said "We wanted them all at different angles"
Then after a period of silence between us, he said "but you've done a stunning setting job here, it's really good what you've done," then there was another period of silence and he said "I'm going to show this to my client"
So much for me and my 'superior skills', what I had done in fact was change his design and mess up his job completely. . . I was devastated.
Two days later, he came to visit me at my workshop. Smiling. He told me that his client absolutely loved her new ring. He gave me more work after that and we always spoke with each other personally, instead of sending messengers to and fro.
I still wonder what he said to his client. I never asked. Too embarrased.
Friday, November 11, 2011 11:26:36 PM
At the beginning of 1973, if I remember correctly, I started my jewellery apprenticeship with my late Father. In those years an apprenticeship consisted of four years training and study and one year internship outside the company. Then you were qualified. Towards the end of each year one was allowed (if able) to advance to a more complicated set of tasks. Something which one looked forward to of course. During the last year of my apprenticeship, my Dad dangled a carrot of achievement in front of me. He told me that at the end of the year he would allow me to re-make my Moms Platinum Engagement Ring. It was in need of refurbishment. Platinum is a particularly difficult metal to work with. It is not as easily malleable as gold. Came the time, it took me a week to remake, with some aborted attempts. Then on the Friday evening, I presented it to my Mom. She loved it and praised me and my workmanship, she even examined it with a jewellers loupe. We were all still sitting around with smiles on our faces when my Mom said to my Dad "Justin, that's not my diamond." . . . Well, I can politely say that that had some effect !. . . My Dad took the ring from my Mom and looking at me, said "You come with me" We went out to his workshop at home. Not a jewellery workshop, just an ordinary handy-mans home workshop with more sophistiated tools than one would normally find in a home workshop. When we were there, he took a fine pointed nosed plier, gripped the stone / diamond by its girdle and twisted it a fraction, one facet, to the right. He then gave it to me and in a very cross tone said "Here, give this to your Mother" Which I did. Then my Mom looked at it again with the loupe and said "Yes, now thats my diamond" then asking my Dad, how did that happen, what did you do? . . So he had to tell her. You see, all the years, the diamond had been set in such a way that the one and only tiny flaw in the stone was hidden under a claw. I hadn't known that till that moment and niether had my Mom. When my Dad turned the stone in the setting, the flaw disappeared again, under the claw. There was a lot of silence between my parents after that for quite a long time. It felt like forever but was probably only two days. I learned quite a few lessons from that. Quite a few.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 9:53:03 PM
All that glitters is not gold and all that is gold does not glitter.
Monday, August 29, 2011 7:30:30 PM
When I was a little lad, and my Mom was a 'housewife' she used sometimes to attend to the family's washing needs by using the FuchsWare fully automatic front loading washing machine. It must have been one of the first such machines available because it was about fifty years ago now. . . . At some stages of it's life, the machine would make odd noises which my late Father would attend to, because even though he was a jeweller, he could fix absolutely anything. So one of the times that the machine was playimg up, my Mom told my Dad that it was making a loud high pitched grrrrrrrrr sound every now and then, but not when he listened to it of course. Over a short while it became much louder and so did my Mom's pleading with my Dad to look into it. He started taking the inards apart more and more until he came across the problem. Inside the mechanical filter housing, just before the water exhaust pump was. . . A One Carat Diamond ! There it was devouring the metal housing of the filter. . . My Father had left it in a shirt pocket and that was where it ended up. Back at his factory, he found a job packet in an in box waiting to be made up into an engagement ring for someone without the required diamond. Nobody, least of all him had missed it yet. Had that job packet been on one of the worker's benches, there would have been hell for the staff with accusations flying back and forth, but luckily, the man who owned it, lost it and found it before he even knew that he had lost it. . . . Only in a jeweller's home.
1 2 Next »