Monday, May 3, 2010

Making Pairs

Those of you that work with gemstones know what I mean when I say, "I'm making pairs".  For those of you that don't work with gemstones, here's the scoop.

Gemstones are generally sold by the strand.  With pretty little tassels on each end.  These tassels can be quite the distraction, so I try to ignore them.  See what I mean?

When purchasing said strands of beads, I try to examine the beads for uniformity of color, shape and size.  Inevitably, my inspection is far from perfect.  In all fairness to me (the inspector), it is difficult, if not impossible, to look at each and every bead on a strand.  This beautiful strand of peridot is a perfect example. There are too many beads for a complete inspection.

Once the strand is home in my studio, I cut it and start to make pairs for earrings.  Unless of course the strand is too gorgeous to cut right away.  In that case I let it remain "a strand" for maybe a few months before cutting it. I have a strand of multi-colored, graduated sapphires from Tucson, uncut.  And it will remain uncut until I wake up with an amazing design idea someday.  It will be worth waiting for.  But I digress.

Making pairs starts out kind of fun.  I use small snippets of wire to view the prospective pairs, placing the beads on the wire.  This helps determine if two beads are the same length.  It continues to amaze me that a strand which looked so uniform before being cut, can be so varied once it is actually cut.  And somewhat disappointing.  My friend Carol says I'm being too picky.  Until she tried it.  She got bored after making 2 pairs.  She nearly threw those labradorite briolettes back in their compartment and demanded that I make necklaces only.  Sheesh.

Here's what my work table looks like after several hours of pair-making.

See the little bowl in the upper left hand corner?  That's for the silver scrap that eventually gets sent in for credit.  Credit is good.

Notice that I have no room left to work.  This is tricky business.  As I use the pairs for earrings, I move the pairs further away from the actual work area.  When the first row is empty of pairs, I feel like I've made some progress.

I know what I'll be doing for the next few days.  Turning those pairs into earrings.


Brandi said...

Oh man, I know exactly what you mean when you say it's hard to judge all the stones on the strand. A couple months ago, I bought two strands of peach moonstone, one dark, one light. On the strand, they looked perfect. Off the strand... NOT SO MUCH. If it's not the size that was off, it was the color. Then the holes were wonky and not placed on the edge, so wrapping was difficult. I'm lucky if I get three pairs out of each strand.... so frustrating.

The Jewelry Box said...

I can SO relate! I like your wire trick though...will have to try that from now on. Thanks! Looking forward to all those complete earrings! :D

Pricilla said...

Such pretty colors....

Orion Designs said...

The trials and tribulations of being a jewelry designer!