This is a silhouette of the logo of the Begbroke preschool as a pendant. It was a retirement present for one of the staff. A rush job, but fortunately below the minimum weight for hallmarking and so just stamped with my mark and ‘925’.
This is a first for me – I’ve never had work with the Common Control Mark applied. This means that the quality of the metal would be recognised by twenty countries.
Though to be honest, I have a couple of pieces where six hallmarks looks better than five.
This is one – the other will appear later.
More detail on the CCM here.
This is work in progress and is a one-off for me.
This post is in the hope that old websites never actually die and the information in them is available to the computers of the future. In which case, when this plaque is dug out of a cemetery sometime in the distant future, the archaeologist will read the inscription (not yet done) and search for information and find this post. The plaque is unusual in several ways. It is formed from the owner’s wedding ring and a very worn gold pendant. The wedding ring had bands of red, white and yellow gold and these have been retained in the plaque. The other option was just to melt everything down and roll the sheet, but that would lose the history.
Two examples of representations of Thor’s hammer. They are both about 50mm high and solid sterling silver – they weigh about 50g each. The design was driven by the client who wanted an ‘authentic’ look rather than refined, so you can see defects from the casting. The brief was also this style and not the shaft and head style hammer. The left hand one has a satin finish, as the client requested, whereas the right hand is shiny. The shiny one is available from my shop. I could remove more of the casting defects and satinise that if required. UK hallmarks are on the rear. I made clay models as the patterns for the castings, so I could repeat the left hand one too. These are about the limit of my modelling skills.
Suprisingly, this is probably one of the most expensive coins I have mounted. The original issue of the coin is very much a limited edition. Anyway, of the mount, the owner said
‘ Coin pendant received thank you . I am very pleased. It is more impressive than I expected . Your work is very much appreciated.’
The coin is held in a fine silver (99.9% pure) band that is burnished over the coin. Fine silver is so soft that the silver blends back into the bulk forming a tight, secure , but completely non-destructive support for the coin. Both sides are equally visible.
This bracelet has alternate bands of bright polished silver and a hammered pattern that looks vaguely like a bark effect.. It’s a design I’ve used before and can be seen on my shop bracelets page, though it is only made on request. My client saw that picture and said it was great, but could it be wider. The answer is ‘yes – of course. How wide would you like it?’
These were made to complement my cast seahorse pendant.
They are my third version of seahorse earrings. All sold.
This silver belt buckle was cast in a cuttlefish bone. The rippled texture that you see is inherent in the bone itself and therefore unique. The texture is made prominent after the basic shape is formed in the bone, but before the metal is cast. The rectangle was cast in one piece and so required a large bone. Cuttlefish bone is a good insulant allowing the silver to stay molten long enough to penetrate the relative long narrow channels by gravity.
The pearl in this ring was found whilst sea foraging in Normandy many years ago. Although it is rough and irregular, it has sentimental value. My brief was that the ring would be worn daily and so needed to protect the pearl. I suggested an anticlastic ring, which appealed to the owner as she is a mathematician and instantly knew what I meant. (It has both convex and concave curves – most rings only have one or two convex curves.)
The left hand image shows the finished ring and the right hand image before lowering the collar and setting the pearl. The pearl is well protected from casual imapcts.
‘Just to let you know that I absolutely adore the ring you made. I wear it every single day, and my family was blown away by how beautiful it is, and ‘true’ to the type of pearl it is.’
My client wanted a mimimalist band – very plain. Wide and weighty – suitable for a tall lady.
This is a piece of a bomb casing from a bomb dropped during the Vietnam war that was subsequently safely destroyed. Some edges were as sharp as a knife.
These are the cufflinks I made by cutting it in two and removing the sharp edges.
Minimalist to keep the weight down and focus on the content not the cufflink, yet safe and secure. Something to talk about at a dinner party?
My client said -“one happy customer”
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.