Helen's Malachite Earrings
Malachite, Sterling Silver, 24k Gold.
Helen of Troy Collection
Helen of Troy was considered the most beautiful woman on earth and over the millennia, the image we have of her has inspired art, sculpture, poetry/epics, theatre, and during her time a war. That war was the Trojan War between the Greeks and Trojans that was written about by Homer in The Iliad and The Odyssey. These pieces are inspired by her and what I imagine her wearing.
I recently took a workshop-type class on a technique called Keum-Boo which is an ancient Korean technique where I can apply 24k gold foil to a sterling silver surface. I cut out my designs and apply each design to the metal by hand and the metals fuse together by exchanging atoms. It’s a strong bond that is done on a microscopic level so the gold remains permanently on the silver surface. I darken the silver to a matte black (called oxidation or patina) and that makes the gold really stand out! It’s a super beautiful—and addictive—process and I’m so excited to use it in my work.
How to care for your piece
As with all handmade jewelry, the care of it is paramount. I do guarantee all of my work and am willing to fix any issue you may find but to prevent there being any serious damage to your item, here’s a few suggestions to keep in mind.
Don’t wear your piece in the shower or to bed. I know that I used to wear my jewelry ALL THE TIME and the very idea of removing it, felt like I was removing my permanent makeup. What happens to your jewelry when you do this? It wears down the metal in unsuspected ways. Metal is softer than you think and when it gets constant use, it begins to wear down over time. To preserve the longevity of your piece, save it for the daytime and for times when you’re not exposing it to water.
Gemstones are also very soft and can get easily scratched. If a diamond, which is the hardest gemstone in the world, can crack and chip, you can bet ANY other gemstone can do the same. This is the same for beads, some of the beads I use are glass, others are wood, some are gemstones. I try to find gemstones and beads that are cut in a shape that makes it ideal for jewelry, I arrange them in a way so that they are protected from possible abuse, but I always encourage my collectors to be careful.
I’ve done a ton of research and experimentation to make sure every thread is secure, that the gemstones are set perfectly and to eliminate the chance of them falling out, to ensure that every part of the piece can take the occasional abuse, but as the wearer, you also have to do your part and care for the pieces you’re investing in. This doesn’t just go for my work, this goes for ALL jewelry.
Set up an appointment online
I’m very open to arranging a Skype or FaceTime appointment with anyone who needs a little extra convincing before purchasing a piece. This is a good way for you to see how a piece fits, I can explain how I made it, what makes every item unique, and address any questions or concerns you may have about the piece you’re interested in. Please email Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.
How handmade is each piece?
I buy the gemstone beads and gemstone cabochons as they are. I DO NOT do any lapidary work. I buy my metal in sheets or as wires and DO NOT alloy my own metals, nor do I mill any of the metal (pressing into sheets, rolling into wires).
I saw every part of the piece. If you see a spacer, a clasp, the metal around the gemstone cabochon, an intricate part of saw work, that’s me. I do create silver and copper beads myself through fabrication, NOT casting, which means that I saw, form, solder, drill each part of the bead myself. I sew and string the beads together myself, so anything with beadwork, is something where I’ve sewn or woven each bead one by one to create the piece of jewelry. I create the designs myself by doing hours of research and reading and taking classes to improve my technique and craft and to expand my artistic knowledge. Every item is made by hand and by me. I apply the finishes onto the metal surface be it enamel, or gilding, or the oxidation/patina, or the polished, shiny surface, to the matte finish. Whatever the design/piece calls for, is something I address by hand. I love fabricating and working with my hands and I also love designing each piece individually.