Personal Entries

Blue Sapphire Ring

There is so much I want to tell you.  I want to tell you all about sapphires, and I want to respond to Crystal’s comment saying that she’d like to hear more about my new blended family, and I want to tell you all about what I am doing in the studio.  But I am working like a crazy woman to get Vaka rolling again, and I am cooked.  I kinda love this working so hard I fall into bed at the end of the day thing, though, so I’m not complaining. It feels so good to be working again!

So here is a ring I finished today (are you sick of looking at jewelry yet?).  It is a lovely 5 x 7mm cornflower blue sapphire set in 18k.  And, as usual, I am fickle and so this is now my favorite piece. 

Look!  Look!  Are you looking?



Dutch friends, new bling


Aquamarine and sapphire pendant, about 1 1/4 x 7/8 inches

My mom loves the Netherlands.  She loves the wide-open green flatness, the canals, the skinny city houses,  the Noordzee, and the spring flowers.  But most of all, she loves the Dutch.  There was never a Friday when she left the office without her Dutch coworkers making sure she had plans, never a moment when she didn’t feel welcomed and included.  While she’s enjoyed the people most everywhere she’s worked around the world, the Dutch became family.

After years spent living and working in The Hague,  my mom has come home for a job in San Diego.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make.  While there were many compelling reasons to move back to the States, it was so very hard for her to leave her friends; her Dutch family.

As my mom readied herself for the move to San Diego, her beautiful friend Susanne emailed–on behalf of all the Dutch friends– to ask me for ideas for a parting gift.  I suggested they take her for a tattoo, but the Dutch are way classier than me: they opted for jewelry, and ordered my Aquamarine Waterfall Pendant.

aquamarine and moonstone Waterfall Pendant

And that would have worked out just fine, if my mother wasn’t so damn full of damn opinions.  Luckily, her Dutch friends know that she’s a veritable opinion piñata.

Mom asked that I use a stone she already had  instead of the aquamarine cabochon (above) my design called for.  Her stone was a big, gorgeous, faceted aquamarine she had purchased from a British friend in The Hague  shortly before he died (we’re going to call that the new aquamarine from here on).

The challenges? The new aquamarine wasn’t interchangeable with the stone in my design, and a new design was needed to account for the stone’s unique attributes.  I did, however, need to keep with the two-stone look of the pendant I had been asked to make.

Where the original aquamarine cab in the design was all about watery relaxation, the faceted aquamarine was all sparkle and glamour, and just didn’t work well with the laid-back moonstone cabochon of the original pairing.  I opted to pair the new aquamarine with a gorgeous cornflower blue, flower-cut sapphire.

Another challenge was the cut of the new aquamarine: the stone was incredibly deep--half as deep as it was wide– and I needed my design to creatively account for that depth; to allow the face of the sapphire to be on the same plane as the face of the aqua, without looking awkward.

My  solution: A medieval-looking b0x setting,  stones set with prongs to keep them open and airy.

I hope all of my mother’s Dutch friends love what I came up with, I’m really pleased with my design, and my mom loved it.  After gasping, she declared, “I’m going to get mugged wearing this!”

And that is high praise from the Bling Jedi Master.

*Thanks Mom, for the image!



What were you thinking!?

Oh my gosh, did you forget to enter the Monsterbling Contest?  You did, didn’t you?  Because you’re drunk again, right?  That’s what I thought.   OK, you need to stop that and we can talk about that some other time, but in the meantime you seriously need to submit a monster, ok?  Seriously.  Only one day left and all.

OK, as you were.


Monster time!

Monsterbling time! 

Yes, yes, I know.  I haven’t posted pics of the pendant, and I will.  Cripes.  Nagging naggers.

For those of you riddled with self-doubt, let me go all Art Mommy on you for a moment. Ready?  Close your eyes and picture me holding a plate of brownies and wearing an apron.  In person I look just like a young Sophia Loren,  or maybe Penelope Cruz.  Go with that image.  And for those of you who have sent me emails telling my how hot I am?  Make sure I’m fully clothed under that apron, K?:


Pookiepants, of course you can draw/sculpt/photoshop/sew/knit/needlepoint a monster!  You’ve always been so talented!  Remember when you were little and you used to play with Legos for hours and hours?  So creative!  And I know I had to take your crayons away because you wouldn’t stop eating them, but before that?  You drew the most beautiful pictures!  Remember how we had one of your pictures made into a Christmas card, and everyone just raved about my little Picasso?  I was so proud!  You’re brilliant! 


But I guess if you  had your eyes closed you couldn’t read all that, huh?  And you wouldn’t be reading this, either.  Hmmm. 

I’m monstrously excited about the contest (see what I did there?), and I’m looking forward to plastering the walls of my studio with the images everyone sends in, so….get sending!

Enter early and often, and the more the merrier!

The rundown on the contest is here.

Personal Entries

Canada, let’s work this out

Canada, Canada, Canada.  I’m shaking my head already, and you haven’t even done anything.  Yet.

Yesterday, Shmarla commented that the upcoming Monsterbling Contest might offer you a chance to redeem yourself.  You know what I’m talking about Canada, don’t you? I’m referring to The Bad Ring Contest of last spring, when I didn’t see a single entry from the entire country of Canada.

That wasn’t nice, Canada.  It was as if I threw a neighborhood picnic and you, my next door neighbors, didn’t attend.  Not only did you not attend, you didn’t even RSVP, and then you came outside and sat on your patio and pretended my picnic wasn’t going on.

I know you’re there, Canada.  My blog stats tell me you’re reading this blog, and another, less well-adjusted goldsmith might have taken your lack of participation personally.  I don’t tend to take things personally; I think this is a Canada-owned problem.   It’s not me, it’s you.

In the spring, one Canadian reader wrote to suggest that maybe Canada was just too nice to enter The Bad Ring contest.  OK.  I hear you.  You are an exceedingly well-mannered nation, and perhaps it was too much to ask you to condemn and insult a piece of jewelry in order to participate in the contest.  Perhaps your Canadian minds just don’t think like that (but Australia?  Wow!  Wowwy wow, wow, wow).

But Canada, I do want you to know I was thinking of you when I created the Monsterbling Contest.  All you need to do is draw a monster, sculpt a monster, paint a monster; whatever!  And you’re in.  Drawing monsters is in your lexicon of acceptable behaviors, isn’t it?

I did my research and found that Canadian folklore is full of monsters!  Monsters everywhere!  You can’t throw a hockey puck without hitting a monster!  You have lutins in Quebec, furry fish sea and lake  serpentsOld Yellow Top and Waheela.  You’ve done quite well for yourselves in the monster department, and so I know you have it in you, Canada.

Let’s put The Bad Ring contest behind us and work together.  I have a pretty pendant, you have a wealth of Canuk-y minds full of monster-creativity; let’s make a little magic, ok?

I love you Canada.  Let’s work this out.


Monsterbling Contest!

It’s time for the Monsterbling Contest! Yay!

The lowdown: Submit an image of a monster between November 5 and November 15, and may the best monster win.

Draw it, collage it, paint it, Photoshop it.   Sew it, build it, sculpt it and take a picture of it!   Use whatever medium you like, and send me an image of it when you’re done.  Keep it simple or make it a masterpiece; sophistication is not necessary, and I hope to see work of all levels of expertise.  Scary monsters, funny monsters, sad monsters…..all are welcome.

The prize?  A 14k gold, handforged sapphire necklace: the Roman Sapphire Necklace.

It’ll be like the necklace below, but you know, with a sapphire.  A pretty blue sapphire. It will be so pretty you will cry, and so I will send the winner some tissues with their pendant.  I’m still waiting for that stinker to come in, but I will have the necklace done by the time the contest begins, and I will post it then.  That’s why I’m not taking entries until November 5th: because the rat bastard sapphire hasn’t come in yet.

L: pretty sapphire which is taking its sweet time getting here. R: The Roman Pendant

Monsterbling Contest Rules

1. Email entries to:   Entries will be accepted from November 5, 2009 through November 15, 2009.   I will announce the winner on November 18, 2009.

2. There is no limit to how many monsters you may enter into the contest.

3.  All work must be original and your own.

4.  All ages are invited to enter, but if you are under the age of 18 you may not enter without the permission of your parent or guardian.

5.  The winning entry is decided at my personal discretion with the help of friends and a bottle of Chianti.  The winner is final.

6.  Let’s keep our monsters PG-Rated, ok?

7.  The prize necklace is not for resale.

8. Entries must be in JPEG format or included in the body of the email.  Please include your full name, and the email address where I may reach you to confirm shipping information should you win. If you are unable to be reached within 3 days of winning, you forfeit your win. Your last name and email will be kept private, and this information will neither be shared nor used for solicitation purposes.

9.  Images may be posted on this blog or on Vakadesign’s Flickr page, and by entering your image into the contest you give Vakadesign permission to make public your monster image in this manner.

10.  By submitting an entry to the Monsterbling Contest, you agree to these rules and understand the spirit of this fun, friendly competition. You will not hold me responsible if you lose this give-away,  or appeal for a new decision.  This is a give-away everyone, so let’s not get all hard-core.  If I am asked to clarify any of these rules, I will do so on the Monsterbling Contest page of the blog.

Monster questions, anyone?


Monster update!

Blogosphere, keep your pants on!

Some readers have already sent me monster images, including two pictures of mothers-in-law.  Naughty!  For those of you who sent those?   Your secrets will go to the grave with me, my cheeky little ducklings. 

But I don’t want you to waste all that creative fabulousness.

Tomorrow I will post the Official Everything about the Monster Bling contest: dates, rules, ideas, parameters, the whole McGillicutty, enchilada and shabang.

So, what am I waiting for?  I’m waiting for two stones to come in so that I may choose which one to dangle like a carrot in front of your wee little noses.  I’m also trying to figure out the best way to receive submissions… snail mail?  Attached images in email?  A group flickr pool?  I’d like to avoid contracting computer VD by opening attachments. 

So, hold tight while I puzzle the details out!  But keep thinking about monsters while you hold tight….


Monsters and free rings

So, I’ve been thinking about monsters. 

After I had a glass of wine the other night I decided that I REALLY need a faux fur rug.  But like a muppet faux fur rug.  As if the local menfolk hunted down a scary yet wildly beautiful large muppet monster who was terrorizing the local villagers, and then made a trophy rug out of it.  Feet sticking out the sides, claws still on.  Head attached, you know the drill.  Big enough that I can lay it in front of my fireplace and maybe seduce the sweet man upon it, but that is none of your business, blogosphere.

And then, because my brain goes willy-nilly in twelve directions at all times, thoughts shot out from the original thought like spokes from the hub of a wheel.

My thoughts:


I haven’t done a contest in a while, and contests are like parties.  I like parties.

Maybe I could do a contest where I swap a ring for a rug…..

No, too complicated.  Forget the rug.

Maybe I should ask readers to create new monsters, and then I’ll have tons of monster pictures and I can collage them all together to make one giant wall-sized monster picture to hang in my studio. I would LOVE that!

I’ll give the ring to the creator of the best monster!


When I call Karen the next day to tell her of my idea, she is very supportive. “Now, what kind of wine were you drinking?”

Chianti, and Karen is just jealous because I’m a fawn.

And so my ducklings, I think we’re going to do this, but I’d love your input. 

My idea:  A pretty sapphire ring goes to the creator of the best, most creative monster.  Entrants email me images of the monsters they’ve created: drawn, photoshopped, photos of modeling clay monsters, stuffed monsters…..

So, what do you think?   Guide me, my little Obi Wans.


Double sapphire dangles

double sapphires

I came up with this design when a client asked for sapphire earrings for his wife.  As you might have noticed,  my collection is a bit light on the earrings.  And I love earrings!  I really do,  but the problem with earrings is that they are going to need to be priced at almost twice what a ring would be.  Gem earrings require  double the gems, double the work, double the gold of the average ring, and so I need to be sure I create earrings which can support the higher price I need to charge.   They need to be good reach-for-them-all-the-time earrings, the kind of thing your daughter tries to steal from you when she goes off to college because they’re timeless and she digs them, too. They need to work hard and be hard wearing.

I think this design is a great foundation design:  feminine and simple, and a great jumping off point for lots of different combinations of gems.  Elegant, but can be dressed up or down, and allows the stones to take center stage.  A colorful cabochon up top, and a twinkly faceted stone below to catch the light as they move.    I’ve ordered some lovely cabochon/twinkler combinations, and I’m eager to get them set: citrine and warm brown zircon,  jade and peridot,  ruby and iolite, garnet and sapphire.

I’ve set this pair with a 2 ct blue sapphire on top and a super-sparkly .5 ct white sapphire on the bottom.