Blogosphere, one of you who I won’t name (her name rhymes with Shmarla) has had ants in her pants about the black diamond I purchased a while back, and rightfully so. It’s a beautiful stone, and it’s been hanging on my wall for ages. Shmarla wrote to ask after the black diamond’s health recently, a subtle nudge and one that makes me wonder if Shmarla might be Catholic, because she guilted me just right.
I wanted to do right by this gorgeous diamond; I wanted to create a diamond pendant which would be the antithesis of the generic white diamond solitaire pendants I see far too many of. A sparkly thing to wear on your pretty neck, but a rich and interesting, warm and elegant sparkly thing.
I mulled and mulled until I came up with this design, and it took several attempts before I got it right. It’s the gold granules. Let’s talk about them.
Before alloying was discovered, granulation was done differently than it is today. 24k does not require solder because it tacks to itself with heat. Ancient goldsmiths would set the granules in place and heat the base layer from underneath, causing the granules to delicately bond to the piece. Clustered granules were the norm because they provided support and strength for each other; the bond of each individual granule was to fragile for it to stand alone.
Today, in karated gold, solder is used, and it’s this additional ingredient which can make granulation so tricky. Strong and wearable, but tricky. Solder needs flux, either applied separately or mixed with the solder as paste solder, and the solder and the flux move when heated. Granules are tiny little suckers, and as the flux bubbles and settles, the granule rides the flux like a buoy rides a wave. The best way to apply granulation is to melt the solder and flux first, and then add the granule. The molten solder still “grabs” the granule and moves it, but you have much more control. Unless, of course, the tiny pieces you’re working with overheat and collapse into a big ball of goo, which they tend to do if you’ve skipped lunch and are thinking about dating while you work. Because you’re still as boy-crazy as you were at 15.
So Shmarla, thank you for your gentle nudging, because I needed it to make me get this finished! I thought of you while making this piece, and I hope you like it as much as I do. I like it so much I want to marry it, but I’ve already committed myself to the Aquamarine Waterfall Pendant and that would make me a jewelry bigamist.