This ring was really just a test piece for a commission which mixed silver and gold. It enabled me to determine the sizes of the various elements and develop the manufacturing process. The real thing will have garnets instead of the domes and all the beads and beading are gold.
I’ve been asked twice in the last year to make a chalky paper tester. It’s a piece of fine silver wire that is rubbed on the perforation of a stamp and apparently indicates whether the paper is chalky or not. It must be something akin to silverpoint drawing. I decided to make one for my shop.
Should you feel the need then this is the link.
As a Christmas present, I was asked to make a pair of crosses for husband and wife each engraved with their names and date of their wedding. So far, so good.
There was a further requirement that the two crosses could be worn together. This was achieved by having silightly different chain rings, both offset to the rear. Gravity then causes the two to hang together. Simple idea, but requiring more precision than normal for me!
The crosses are both hallmarked on their rear face.
Of the 80 or so pieces of silver I’ve made this year this has to be my zenith for the year – the challenge of making covers for two horses hooves. A common Victorian activity – very often as inkwells.
Each top is engraved with the name of the horse. A really interesting challenge to match the irregular shape, but both the owner and I are very pleased with the result. Fully UK hallmarked at the London Assay Office. The shoes are iron.
This is a gift for my wife. The book on chains I used as the basis for the design calls it ‘jeweller’s delight’, because it looks good and is relatively easy to make. True – especially as the way I made it was simpler and more effective than the method in the book. Here’s the chain and a close up showing the plate whose sole function is somewhere to put the hallmarks.
Each link is about 25mm long. The links and the plate are fine silver, but the lobster catch is sterling. That’s why the links are brighter than the catch. However it is only hallmarked as sterling silver.
This request was for a substantial bookmark – longer and heavier than my norm. Also less maintenance required, so I used 1mm silver rather than 0.6 and argentium rather than sterling. Also the hallmark placing is different. Here it is as sent and then in use.
My client said “I think it looks very lovely, and it has a real heft in the hand which is nice.”
Always happy to accomodate variations if I can.
I was asked to make a silver yantra to my client’s design. It remind me of the Buddha. With this sort of wire bending, I can’t make two exactly the same. My client preferred the right hand side one. The main body is about 5cm high. The available one is in the process of being assayed, though it is below the minimum weight.
These Spanish real coins had been purchased as a set of cufflinks, where the cufflink part had been soldered directly on to the coins. I was asked to make 9ct gold settings instead with the design to be similar to an existing set with half-real coins. Good access to the back was required. I used commercial cufflink components in the design which holds the coins securely, but undamaged.
This sterling silver paten is destined for St Aldates Church in Oxford. A paten is used for communion bread.
“What an exquisite piece of silverware. It’s absolutely beautiful. “ St Aldates
It is 16 cm in diameter and has been hand made by sinking the silver into a wooden former.
The domed disk sits on a thin silver base ring – wide for stability. You can see the hallmarking on the image above.
I made a copper version first to check the size and design suited the donor. It’s an object of beauty in its own right and now resides in our house.
I have made other silver for ecclesiastical use. A morse for St Helens Church in Abingdon, a pectoral cross and ring for the Bishop of Hertfordshire and a pectoral cross for Abbot Thomas of Mucknell Abbey.
I made a twisted wire edged surround for a cameo. The cameo was far from flat, indeed the base had to be shaped like a certain potato based snack that comes in tins. Unfortuntately, I didn’t get the clearances quite right. I’ve mananged to repurpose the base by flattening it and forming a layer of turquoise chips.
It’s quite a statement piece as the oval is about 55 by 40mm. There are two morals to this story – reuse before recycle and never throw anything away. I’ve had that jar of turquoise chips for over 40 years! A unique piece available from my shop.
This is for me! II’ve finally finished it. It’s been a project long in the gestation since I was asked if I had any Cowrie shell snuff boxes several years ago. So I thought I would have a go at a shell topped box. I had to slice the top of the shell and then fabricate the base from silver. It’s about 10cm long.
This one wouldn’t work for snuff or other powders as the flap isn’t a tight enough seal, but fine for other small knick-knacks. You can see that the London Assay Office has applied part marks on the flap for me.
It seems to be my year for mounting coins!
I’m not sure of the denomination of the coin, but it’s bigger than the denarius I recently mounted. Silver, about 20mm across and 2mm thick. It has a swivel so that both sides are easily viewed and a heavy trace chain consistent with the coin size. The mount is a fine silver band moulded non-destructively to the coin.
This is 2mm thick copper and longer than I would normally make especially for a big lad. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it engraved in time, but that should be possible now.
This coin mount for 1605 James the 6th Shilling – great to get the chance to hold something that old. The owner says that If you look at the coin you’ll see a fleur de lis around the edge, that’s the mint mark and means the coin was minted in the Tower of London in 1605, the very year Guy Fawkes tried to kill James the 6th.
The sterling silver mount holds the coin non-destructively and is hallmarked 2020.
The review posted on my Google page says ‘I received my item from John today and to say I’m happy with it would be an understatement. ‘
A special request for a ring with a groove around it. With time the groove should tarnish whereas the main surface will stay silvery. This will be the desired effect.
These were requested by a previous client for a friend who likes reading. My client provided a sketch, which I followed closely except that I replaced a chain by a twisted square wire to keep the book facing outward. There is still plenty of movement as there are two hinges. Another piece for my ‘unusual requests’ folder.
A solid silver spiral or helix on a belcher chain. Just a simple day to day pendant. Available from my shop.
This one’s mine, though I can and have made copies.
It consists of a sequence of silver, copper and brass links with a silver t-bar and loop clasp. Of course, yellow, red and white gold is another option, but may not have the claimed beneficial effect of copper.
These pendants are a special commission for three daughters
They are all the same size, about 35mm across, and build on earlier work in this style. The thistle is fabricated , but the rose and sweet pea are both cut in one piece from sheet – a challenge to my sawing skills. The textured background enhances the shiny surface of the flower. Each is hallmarked on the rear.
I was asked to make a silver near copy of a base metal pendant that had a special meaning for my client. I actually made two and the one on the left is the client’s and it has been slightly ‘aged’ on request. You can see it and the original here on Instagram. I quote
‘it’s arrived and frankly I am bowled over by how brilliant it looks. What an amazing job, it’s pretty much exactly how I imagined it. Thank you so much for the great work’
The right hand side one has a different fixing and is on sale in my shop. They are the same size – about 3cm by 3cm.
I’ve made many fused silver pendants before of a whole range of sizes, but this is my first attempt at fusing gold. I was unsure it would work with low carat silver but it’s come out fine and has been hgallmarked as 9ct gold. If you look carefully, you will see the two tones where the red and yellow gold pieces have blended together. This weighs 4g and is about 3cm tall. It’s available from my shop.
I helped to clear out the workshop of a silversmith who had passed away. In a tobacco tin, I found a dried out seahorse. I’ve no idea how old it was. I thought it would be fragile, but it has survived me making two delft clay casts from the body.
They have come out really well and are available for purchase from my shop.
The date letter for 2020 is a ‘V’.
You can see all the date letters for the last 40+ years here. I made one for me every year and the one on the left is this year’s one. All 42, so far, are slightly different. The one on the right below is for sale in my shop, but I can make them pretty much any size or weight.
This piece is really a test piece as it’s the first I’ve made. I’ve been thinking about making a padlock for some time, but, at this scale, making even a basic key mechanism is outside my skills. Then I saw a knitting stitch marker and that method of closure seemed to be the answer. This one is about 4cm tall, 2cm wide and 5mm thick. It weighs 12g.
This was a challenge of a commission – a long time in the gestation, but a satisfying result. The brief was for a locket with space for two photographs. My client and I went through a number of iterations in the design to finally decide on this teardrop shape with gold embellishments.
The upper surface is hammered and domed with 9ct gold balls to increase the visual and tactile effect. The inside has two chambers where a photograph can be stored. The photos are held in by a silver circlip.
The hallmarks are on the inside and show not only the traditional London hallmarks, but the crown and 375 marks to acknowledge the gold component.
From the left: my sponsor’s mark (JH), traditional sterling silver mark, silver fineness mark (925), the London Assay Office Mark (Leopard), the date letter (U for 2019), the traditional gold mark and the gold fineness mark (375 or 9 carat).
My client wanted a glider as a keyfob, but, as gliders are designed to be streamlined and aerodynamic, a glider shape would be easily bent and also uncomfortable in the pocket. We decided that a silhouette would be more practical. Also, it has a satin finish as a bright polished finish would soon be scratched.
I’m pleased with these. I was asked to make a pair of earrings in a similar style to the remaining one of a pair. That one had an opal doublet, but I couldn’t source anything the right size. I decided to experiment with powered plastic ‘enamel’ and made these which are a blue background with a sprinkling of green and orange powder to fake the iridescence of an opal.
(Almost) always up for a new challenge, I was asked to make a ring with a phrase stamped on the outside and engraving on the inside. The ring is 2mm thick, which is tricky to bend into shape . The sequencing to get the engraving, sizing, stamping, assay, fabrication and polishing inside and out required thought and scheduling, but it worked and my customer is delighted. Definitely not something to be done in a rush. Sam James Ltd did the engraving for me. I had to practice punching to get the lettering (nearly) in a straight line.
Another addition to my ‘seeds’ range of cufflinks. Each acorn is about 18mm long, Available from my shop. I also have pendants of a similar size available in the shop.
I’ve made this style of ingot before, but this was a gift for an 18th birthday this year and hence it has this year’s date letter ‘U’. This does require a little planning to get the timing right. Unless I have a suitable item in stock, date letters cannot be applied retrospectively – it would make them a bit meaningless really.
Here are a couple of sets of cufflinks I have made recently for customers who had a specific item they wanted mounted.
These are both variants of the mount I usually use for UK 3d pieces, though the carnelian ones are much bigger stones and hence have six claws each for extra security. The coins have standard backs and the carnelians the whale tail variant.
This doesn’t look that exciting. It’s a silver tip or ferrule to replace one lost from an officer’s swagger stick. This is 25mm long and 10mm internal diameter. I’ve done the same sort of thing in different forms and styles for walking and riding sticks.
These are the latest additions to my ammonite range – still the same ammonites – just different forms of jewellery.
I made this pendant a while ago, but forgot to load it into my shop – but it is now.
It’s a piece of quite thick amber in a teardrop shape. I made this surround as a freehand casting using the ‘cuttlefish casting’ method. It is assayed on the rear.
Half round or ‘d’ section rings of silver and 9 carat red gold have been soldered together for this discrete, but different ring.
Apart from the soldering challenge, the exciting aspect of this piece for me is that, in over 40 years of sending work to be assayed, this is my first piece that is marked as ‘mixed metal’. I’ve worked silver and gold before, but this is the first piece that qualified as mixed metal, because the two metals are discrete enough to have different hallmarks. If the metals are not sufficiently clear, then the whole work is marked at the lower standard, which in this case would have been sterling silver.
Here is an expanded and rotated image of the marks.
Because my work is assayed at London, it has the traditional silver and gold marks as well as the modern fineness mark applied as standard. The marks were applied by laser.
My sponsors mark, traditional sterling silver, fineness mark for sterling silver, London Assay Office and the 2019 date letter.
Traditional gold mark and modern 9 carat fineness mark.
Assay and marking does not distinguish the colour of the gold.
This is an example of a 2019 marked ingot.
If you look carefully, you can see the distortion of the metal around the punch marks, particularly by my sponsor’s mark at the top. Laser applied marks do not cause any distortion, but then they are nothing like as deep. Please contact me if you would like something similar. I am only making them to commission, though there are some of earlier years available in my shop.
My client provided the stones for this pair of earrings.
They are small – no more than a centimetre high. The brief was a simple setting with secure ear wires. The client and recipient are delighted with the result. There’s something extra about a gift that where the giver has provided strong input to the design.
This brooch is about 6cm long and has a steel pin on the rear with a pin protector. It ws something of an experiment in embossing patterns by rolling. Tp get this result an oak leaf was rolled between two sheets of annealed copper. The leaf was then sulphided to enhance the detail and then a very thin gold plate was applied. I intend to let the copper border tarnish naturally – we shall see what it looks like in time.
The picture below is an enlargement of the embossing to show the fine detail of the leaf in the copper.
Each brooch will be unique as, although there may be a mirror image available, the leaf is destroyed during the process.
A three strand, twisted and rolled bracelet that is closed, but adjustable. It has heavier gauge wire than I normally use, at the client’s request, to make it a substantial piece of silver jewellery.
These are small pendants 1.5-2 cm – solid silver and full hallmarked, though they are below the minimum requirements. They were cast from a shell found by the client.
This set of cufflinks were a special and thoughtful presents to three brothers. The clients selected and sourced the coins. They are from the reigns of Caracalla, Trajan, Philip, Alexander, Valerian and Gordian.
The support for the coins are domed so that both sides can be examined. The mounts hold the coins securely but non destructively.
These blue mosaic tessera based earrings have been very popular. The story behind them is here. A year or so back, I bought a pack of other colours. This is the sample sheet.
Now to add increased flexibility, I have made stud mounts for the tessera and why not other materials? The rght hand side below has some paua shell I cut to size.
Wikipedia has just told me that paua is the New Zealand name, abalone the US name and ormer the UK name for the same genus.
I have some stock, but contact me with your choice.
This style of ring is made to measure and can be made with any of my available ammonites. Or indeed other objects you may wish to have immortalised in silver.
The key fob of this key ring is cast from a bolt from a bicycle that has special memories for the recipient.
The fob is hallmarked on the head of the bolt. This is an example of the commissioned work I undertake where there is a memory or other connection between the giver and the recipient There is also the pleasure of giving (and for me making) a present that will last many, many years.
The silver cuff I made earlier in the year was very well received and so I was asked to make a gold version. Fortunately, and unusually for me, I kept detailled instructions, so the two cuffs are pretty much identical.
Normally ring hallmarks are on the inside of a ring, requiring a special ‘swan-necked’ punch, but I was asked to produce one with the hallmarks on the outside.
Here the London Assay Office have applied ‘display’ marks that are deep and durable. I’ve also been able to employ one of my slightly larger straight punches.