I am delighted to announce Manor House Designs will be hitting the high-street this Friday, as several local artists (who specialise in a variety of crafts whether using paint, stained-glass, felt, paper and silver) will be displaying their work at the fantastic Anne Reeves Jewellery in Shrewsbury (Shropshire).
This excellent initiative is in association with our good friends at Buy-From-Shropshire who actively encourage customers to buy handcrafted and locally-sourced products from a wealth of skilled Shropshire artisans. Please support this worthwhile endeavour and join us for the BIG LAUNCH on Friday 23rd June 2017 @ 18:30 at Anne Reeves Jewellery (127a Frankwell, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY3 8JU). You may even meet a "celebrity"? Ooh.
Each of the artists will be "manning the shop" a few days a month, so once we've sorted out our rota, and worked out how to use the till (but mostly the kettle for a nice cuppa), I'll post further details so you can meet us all. We'd love to see you.
Thank you for your support of local business.
As the final part of this month's blog about June's gemstone of the month - pearls - here's a helpful list of my do's and don't's for looking after your pearl jewellery.
Top Tips: Caring for your Pearls:
I love making jewellery using pearls, if you'd like to see some exmaples, simply click on this link - pearls - or visit my studio and try on something special.
Enjoy your pearls
Guess what I got for my birthday? It's a kit for enamelling. I've recently done some training in the skills of enamelling and have been itching to get started on some pieces in my own workshop. First things first, though. There's not a great deal of space left in my workshop (below left)... and I love the way my studio is (below centre).
So, in a subtle bid to take over the entire building and extend my silversmithing kingdom, I've moved the gym into the packing area! I now have a brilliant and bright space for drawing and enamelling. Can't wait to get started now. I've got lots of design ideas and have been scribbling away for weeks.
Eventually I want to enamel this piece. It's a work in progress. Made up of two parts, a pendant featuring Japanese ladies and a wisteria design brooch the two can be attached together to form a large and striking brooch. The sterling silver has been etched to highlight the design and I'm planning to apply some gorgeous enamel colour to really bring it to life.
I'll keep you updated
Thanks to Lana Crabb at Cooksongold and Denise McGowan (evanji.co.uk) for their tuition and inspiration.
As promised, here's the second part of my blog for June's gemstone of the month, -pearls - focusing on its many colours, shapes and interesting facts about this natural gemstone.
Pearls; their glorious colours and fantastic shape: Nearly all pearls sold today are cultured pearls and range in colour from white, ivory, lavender, black, purple, peach, pink and even gold. They get their colour from the inner elements of the oyster shell. Each one is unique and stunningly beautiful. The world's largest pearl (the Pearl of Lao Tzu) was found in 1934 in the Philippines. It is naturally occurring from a giant clam! Some pearls have fantastic shapes. Craftsmen and jewellers have created wonderful objects from pearls throughout the centuries.
Pearls: interesting things you probably didn't know?
Next week: Part three of Gemstone of the Month - Pearls, featuring my top tips on how to look after your pearl jewellery. And if you enjoy wearing pearls as much as I enjoy making pearl jewellery, take a peek at these pieces I have made.
Enjoy your pearls
Don't forget, that Father's Day is on Sunday 18th June, so if you're still trying to work out what to get your beloved dad for Father's Day, take a sneaky peek at these gorgeous treats I've hand made, which are quirky, unique and I hope you'll like.
Scroll left and right to browse a few of my items, or visit my Shop
Whether cufflinks, tie-pins or keyrings, each piece is unique, made from Sterling Silver by myself - Kate Buchanan-Dunne - in my lovely Shropshire workshop, and if you order now, I can dispatch it today, in time for Father's Day. If you'd like, I can even giftwrap it for you.
Unfortunately, with barely two weeks to go until Father's Day, that wouldn't leave enough time to design and handcraft a tailor-made silver gift, but if you have a relative who has a birthday coming up, why not get in touch? I'd love to talk to you.
Pearls are the gemstone for the month of June, therefore this month's blog will contain some fascinating facts about pearls, including where they come from and their history, as well as their colours, shapes and how to look after your pearls, in a three-part blog.
Pearls in History: Beautiful gifts from the sea, pearls have been loved throughout history and are still adored today. These lustrous treasures are associated with purity, innocence and charity and are thought to inhibit boisterous behaviour, focus the attention, relieve digestive disorders, increase fertility and aid childbirth. Known as the queen of gems, pearls are said to be the world’s oldest gem and were most probably found by our ancestors as they searched the shores for food.
For thousands of years they have been prized and collected; loved by the Romans, favoured by royalty, the fashion industry and the rich and famous. Pearls have been loved and appreciated for their beauty and intrinsic value throughout the world for decades.
Where Do Pearls Come From? Pearls are formed when a small piece of grit enters an oyster shell. The oyster senses this as an irritant and secretes a protective layer of nacre around its soft tissue. Subsequent layers are built up over months until eventually a pearl is formed. It's the translucent layers that give the pearl its shimmer. Centuries ago pearls were found in the rivers and lakes of China, salt water areas in Japan, the Persian Gulf, India and the Red Sea.
Adventurous travellers can even dive for their own! Although a number of oyster beds close to shore have been damaged or destroyed by oil spillage and land reclamation, more than 1,000sq km of fertile oyster beds still flourish in the warm waters further afield.For centuries pearls were rare, often dangerous to find and therefore extremely expensive and exclusive to the wealthy. Research was undertaken to find ways for man to cultivate and farm pearls so that they could become available to anyone. Scientists were able to simulate the natural process by introducing a small piece of pearl or mantle tissue into the mollusc. The process meant that pearls could now be cultivated in their thousands rather than gathered individually by divers.
Next week: Part two of Gemstone of the Month - Pearls (colours, shapes and facts)
And, if you love pearls as much as I do, why not take a little peek at the pearl jewellery I have made. I hope you enjoy wearing them as much as I have enjoyed making them.
Enjoy your pearls
Emerald is the gemstone for May (and my birthstone) so I’m planning to indulge myself and make a piece of silver jewellery with velvety emeralds. Not quite sure what yet, so watch this space.
Apparently the name comes from the Greek “Smaragdos”, meaning green stone. It is part of the beryl family and ranges in colour from light to a deep green depending on how much chromium oxide and vanadium it contains. Most stones contain inclusions which occur naturally during their growth as crystals. Throughout history, the emerald’s green colour is said to have “entranced humankind.” Its colour is a symbol of new life and the promise of spring, which is why it is the birthstone of May.
The Ancient Romans dedicated the emerald to the goddess of love, Venus thinking it represented the reproductive forces of nature. Early Christians used it as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ and in the Middle Ages it was thought to have the power to foretell the future. Throughout the ages it has been used as a cure for epilepsy, to stop bleeding, protect from panic, as a treatment for dysentery and to protect seafarers from drowning. I’m not sure about any of the above, I just know that I love its colour and sparkle! Records show that the stone was known and sold in markets in Babylon as early as 4000 BC and today a fine emerald may be two to three times as valuable as a diamond.
Spanish Flamenco dancer Anita Delgado, who became Princess in Kapurthala, owned a beautiful necklace with emeralds and diamonds, previously an adornment for the Maharaja’s favourite elephant and was valued at £100,000. Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale (based on the relative ease or difficulty with which one mineral can be scratched by another) which means that it is a fairly hard stone and is suitable for setting in rings. Not only is emerald the birthstone for May it is also the anniversary gemstone for 20 years (sadly I’d forgotten that a few years ago!)
For my top tips on caring for your Emerald jewellery, simply click here, or for all my tips, click "Jewellery Care" in the Category section (right) of this blog page.
If you look after your jewellery, it will last forever, so - as a silversmith and jewellery designer with a wealth of experience with gemstones - I thought I'd pass on to you a few very important do's and don't's on how to care for your Topaz jewellery. I hope you like it.
Top Tips for Caring for your Topaz
Although topaz is a hard stone (Mohs 8) it is not very tough and is prone to chipping or forming a flaw if banged hard. Topaz is more likely to remain in good condition if set into pendants, brooches and earrings rather than bracelets and rings. (Stones are best set in a bezel setting which will offer some protection rather than prongs - especially if you are choosing a ring that you want to wear regularly).
It is a great privilege to be asked to design and make a bespoke and unique piece of jewellery. It's also a responsibility as it is so important to get it right! I'm very aware that the creation of such a special thing means putting into life the dreams and aspirations of someone, so this needs to be done very carefully.
There's a lot to consider. Not just the size and shape but how that relates to the wearer - is it proportionately correct? What about their style? Jewellery needs to reflect this accurately and I think that a positive outcome is not only that the wearer loves their jewellery, but that they feel fabulous and special when they wear it.
If you look after your jewellery, it will last forever, so - as a silversmith and jewellery designer with a wealth of experience with gemstones - I thought I'd pass on to you a few very important do's and don't's on how to care for your Opal jewellery. I hope you like it.
Caring for your opals: Opals are soft stones, similar in hardness to turquoise, lapis lazuli and labradorite and are actually not quite as fragile as some people think. However cleaning and caring for your jewellery depends on the type of opal you own, so here's some tips:
Solid Opals have the same hardness of glass and unlike doublets and triplets cannot be damaged by water. It is therefore safe to clean them with warm water, a mild detergent and a soft toothbrush or cloth.
Doublets and Triplets are made from layers which have been glued together prolonged exposure to water will cause a lifting of these layers. Your opal will then become grey or foggy in appearance. Just to reassure you that it is prolonged exposure that causes the damage and washing your hands or wearing your jewellery in the shower or the rain will be okay. To clean, just wipe with a damp cloth. Never soak or immerse in water. But, whatever type of opal you own...
If you need to store your opal for a long period of time just wrap in cotton wool which has been soaked in a few drops of water and place in a sealed plastic bag. (The water will prevent water coming out of the stone should it be exposed to environments with very low humidity). The good news is that opals should be worn as often as possible. Humidity from the atmosphere and from the skin of the wearer provides the moisture this precious gem needs.
I hope that helps
Kate Buchanan-Dunne is an artist, designer and silversmith based in Shropshire.