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Complete Refurb of Family Earrings

Maria had these family earrings. They were very old, and originally belonged to her Great Grandmother. They were Italian in origin.

Many parts of each gold earring were missing, there were also diamonds and pearls missing. Maria had been looking for a jeweller to refurbish these since 2005 but no one she asked was able to do the job.

A few months ago, she came across our Facebook page and messaged Louise about fixing them. Louise asked Maria to come to our Shaftesbury Design Studio because she wanted to have a really good look at them and talk about what was possible.

Unfortunately, at some point someone had tried to repair them with a lead solder. This contaminates the gold, so certain parts couldn’t be reworked.

Maria’s family history is very important to her, she wanted retain as much of the original materials, look and feel of the earrings as possible, she also wanted to be able to pass these earrings onto current and future generations of her family.

The fittings for the earrings – the clips at the back – were still in good working order and could definitely be reused. Sadly the lead solder had rendered some of the other gold parts unusable.

You can clearly see that these earrings needed a full refurbishment job; they were beyond repairing.

Louise recommended that we would start by creating a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file, so Maria could see some photo-realistic images as a visual reference point. Maria would also be able to see how we would assemble her earrings.

Louise started by taking lots of measurements and then disassembled her earrings to be able to start re-creating them.

CAD is a powerful computer program that enables us to create intricate jewellery inside of a computer, modern day 3D printing allows us to print resin copies that can be viewed prior to any precious metal being cast.

Maria was over the moon with her CAD images – she had almost given up hope that there was a company out there that could refurbish this precious family heirloom for her.

In the third image below, you can see three different shades of green, these are the different parts that will be cast in gold, and then assembled to make the earrings.

Maria had a family wedding band that she wanted incorporated into these earrings. Louise suggested that we hand make the spokes that the pearls would be threaded onto, from this wedding band.

The main parts of the earrings were cast in new gold, directly from her CAD file – making them exactly the same as the images she had seen and approved.

We 3D printed a resin copy of Maria’s CAD file, you can this above. The grey version is exactly what these earrings will look like when they are finished. We cast the front parts of Maria’s earrings in yellow gold. The wedding ring would make the spokes for the pearls and the original clip fittings would be re-used.

You can see Maria’s freshly cast gold above. The wax for these pieces was also 3D printed from her CAD file – so its exactly the same as the photo-realistic images and resin print that she saw and approved.

This gold has a slight fingerprint-like texture to it from the casting process. It needs ‘cleaning up’ this is where our Goldsmiths use needle files, different grits of very fine sandpaper, and our polishing wheel to bring the gold up to a high shine.

Louise wanted to leave some slight texture on the inner parts of the leaves to give them an organic and natural look and feel.

Louise selected some pearls to match Maria’s original ones. Not all of her pearls were reusable, and both middle ones were missing.

Louise also hand picked some diamonds to replace the missing ones. A couple of Maria’s diamonds were badly chipped, and wouldn’t have survived being reset, these were also replaced.

There were many different creation techniques involved in re-creating these earrings. Maria’s family wedding ring was used to hand make the spokes that the pearls would go onto, plus the posts that would actually go through her ears. Her original fittings (clips on the back) were re-used and would be soldered into place.

We discussed where to hallmark Maria’s new earrings, we agreed to laser hallmark them around the edges – where the pink marks are. Birmingham Assay Office did a brilliant job of this, and included the King Charles ||| Coronation Mark.

The gold pieces were soldered together, and Maria’s original earrings hooks were fitted. Lastly, the diamonds and pearls were set into place. The broken pearls, damaged diamonds and contaminated gold that we couldn’t reuse were returned to Maria.

It was a compete delight to welcome Maria back to our Design Studio to collect her earrings – it was a very happy and emotional experience for all!

We are happy to report that these are currently being worn and enjoyed by Maria in Italy.

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