Designing a piece of jewelry is different for every jeweler. Some people are good sketch artists and can visualize and draw up ideas beforehand. Some people are good with the computer and can use Cad/Cam programs to build designs with that. Personally I just like to get in there and muck around with the metal. Sometimes I'll do a rough scribble of what I would like to do (I particularly like to do this on the walls of my workshop) but usually I just like to go to work. The gemstone I'm working around, and the metal I'm working with, often dictate where my designs will end up. Factors like durability, wearability and cost also enter the picture, especially when I'm working with large stones.
Every once in awhile I have an ah ha moment. For some reason it's almost always when I'm in bed (often asleep--hence the bags under my eyes all the time). One of the dominant themes that runs through a lot of my work came to me that way over 20 years ago when I was trying to do a new piece for my wife, Kathy, with a mobe pearl and some diamonds she had gotten in a piece before she knew me.
I had the same thing happen with the drusy chrysocola pictured in my first post (although it wasn't quite so meaningful). I woke up with the concept that I wanted to make it fit into a basket of sorts and that I wanted to cover up and use the brown part of the stone as the base for the design element while allowing the drusy part of the stone to speak for itself. The basket idea worked from an economic standpoint as well as I didn't have to build a large heavy bezel and back for a rather large stone.
Creating the actual piece, of course, was not nearly as simple as I anticipated at first, especially once I decided to add the diamonds. Soldering pieces onto an open wire basket without the whole thing falling apart is always fun. Trying to set stones into bezels (the piece that holds the stones) when there is no real support (I had to do it before I set the chrysocola) is also a lot of fun. Since I still handcraft so much of my jewelry, a lot of the things that I do are still a bit tricky, but a little challenge is always far more interesting than doing the same thing over and over again. And, as it happens, I made something up that I really liked.
In my next post I'll talk about actually selling the piece.