Every design at Green Lake has a story to tell, and this ring is no exception. Designer Benjamin Marchant worked with his client to create a ring for his fiancée that would celebrate their engagement and also reflect elements that hold great symbolism for her. In recent years, the hummingbirds she’d watch just outside her bedroom window took on a guardian angel-like significance during her recovery from illness, which is why they’re cleverly incorporated into both the form and function of this piece. These hand engraved birds also face a blossom in rose gold to represent the wearer’s middle name, and are accented with blue diamond ‘dew drops’ below. A testament to restored health, romantic love, and new beginnings, this Hummingbird Ring in Platinum represents the kind of custom work we take such pride in creating.
Senior Designer Sophia Shen had been working on a few variations of a ring that would be prominent on the finger with lots of intricate detail, yet still light and airy. She made use of milgrain edging on open geometry to capture a regal look that’s apart from any halo we’ve seen, leading to stunning one-off designs to match her client’s specific taste. For this piece, a pink diamond center and the addition of rose gold show how variations on a theme can set an engagement ring into a category of its own.
We always love seeing a new twist on a Green Lake design favorite, like this delicate band re-imagined as an engagement ring in the metal of the moment, rose gold. Once designer Nina Matsumoto sketched the concept, CAD Modeler Michelle Loon began the model. To get the curls to be structural and flow, she used ‘T-Splines’ (a technique our designers rely on to create sculpted and organic forms with the perfect flow). The result is a custom diamond setting comprised entirely of a pattern, yet still durable in its design for a lifetime of wear.
This ring could be one of the most emblematic pieces from Green Lake in 2016. A winning design from the #Fairmined Gold Contest by Nina Matsumoto, the Kaleidoscope brings ethical sourcing to the forefront. Cast and set in the Seattle studio, its gold comes from the same small-scale artisanal mines that supply material for the Nobel Peace Prize (read why Green Lake uses Fairmined certified gold). It’s as big on substance as it is on style too, recently earning a front page feature on the popular wedding site Borrowed & Blue. For this ring’s distinctively clean lines and the bigger story it tells, it’s definitely one of the most memorable of the year.
Okay, so we’re sneaking a few other pieces into the annual engagement ring list. For some custom clients, wedding anniversaries are celebrated with new ring – or more often, adding to an existing one. For this anniversary ring, Designer Ashlen Johnson worked with several pieces of her client’s older jewelry to re-create some over-the-top eye candy she’d be sure to wear daily. This statement piece makes beautiful use of the customer’s sentimental diamonds and over 25 hours of hand engraving, setting and filigree work from master jeweler, Henry Nguyen.
Seattle’s Shop Foreman Joe Worley is known for outdoing himself with big statement pieces, each showcasing some extraordinary techniques that have taken decades to master. A previous winner of the prestigious Spectrum Award, his entry this year displayed a calla lily hand carved from a parcel of rough moonstone, advanced pave setting, hidden filigree, a sculpted snail and botanical texturing from a Florentine graver. But we think it was the ‘en tremblant’ technique he used on the flower’s stamen that makes this ring a piece of art.
En tremblant, a style most often associated with Art Noveau, is where an element on a piece subtly moves. That takes keyed caps, special fittings, rivets and springs to accomplish. It’s a technique typically used for large broches but Joe saw it as an opportunity to add motion on a much smaller scale with a ring. It took over a month working with Lapidary Dan Canivet to plan out parts and another month after that to make the final piece. The result is a bouncy attention-getter that shimmers and sparkles with so many details that we had devote an entire article to it.
The Trebling Lily Ring is presently on display at the Bellevue Studio and pricing is available upon request.
Artists Credit: Joe (Designer and Jeweler) Dan (Lapidary)
Working with family gemstones is a service that makes Green Lake Jewelry pieces so special for our clients. With a variety of shapes and sizes, fitting all the pieces together can be an especially glamorous puzzle to solve. Outside of needing a low-profile engagement ring that wouldn’t snag on her doctor’s gloves, the client was open to the custom process and gave designer Ashlen Johnson creative freedom to make something just for them. From there, CAD Designer Usiel Vargas had to pay special attention to the varying sizes of the client’s gems, making sure tolerances and requirements for durability were met, while also keeping the ring light and delicate. In the end, they achieved an old world feel perfectly suited to for an old European center.
Starting off as a spirited sketch from the client, this ring was carved entirely by hand to capture all the character and detail of an actual otter. Green Lake Wax Carver Kristi Hansen took Designer Nina Matsumoto’s updated design and printed it to scale, applying the paper to the wax model and finely poking out the pattern – an approach not unlike carving a jack-o’-lantern. By adding a new wedge of wax to the ring, Kristi was able to create a realistic floating posture for the animal, truly making this piece a stand-out example of artistry. And what does the inside engraving say? “For my significant otter,” of course.
Green Lake maintains a large collection of loose Montana sapphires with an array of natural colors and shapes to inspire one-of-a-kind rings. The color in this sapphire is blue like a glacial stream, which is fitting as it appears wrapped up in an eddy of platinum swirls. To accentuate movement in this ring, Jeweler Eric Harman hand fabricated little filigree curls that twist in balance with its wave shape. Given this piece was only Harman’s second or third hand at high-level filigree work (a skill that takes ages to refine), the result is truly remarkable!
For Designer Benjamin Marchant, having a client request something that looked like it came from a Lord of the Rings kingdom – and give him the creative freedom to draw it up – was a total dream come true. To get this aesthetic he knew all too well, Ben used alternating high-polish and sandblasted finishes on the metal to get the flowy, over-and-under details to really ‘pop.’ At the bench, jeweler Caitlin Wolff even kept true to art from Lord of the Rings, paying careful attention to adjust her engraving style and add dimension to the piece in an authentic way. Unlike any piece we’ve made before, this is a ring that just has to unite two!
While each ring we make for our clients is truly unique, there are some that leave our workshop we’ve never seen before and are unlikely to see again. Take for instance this playful tribute to one couple’s life together that called for carved cats and dogs to match photographs, all in some materials we’ve never even worked in. We love this ring because it was such team effort between a curious designer, a skilled wax carver, an ambitious lapidary and a focused jeweler.
Designer Samantha Laddin took this surprise anniversary present from concept to completion, poring over photos of the animals playing to get representation just right. Wax Carver and one of Green Lake’s most tenured/skilled artists Kristi Hansen relied heavily on these photos too, capturing the dog’s floppy ears and expression to a ‘T.’ Lapidary Dan Canivet also had his challenges, polishing a parcel of rough onyx into a perfect cat loaf. At the bench, Eric Harman applied the final assembly, putting these guys together for a lifetime of wear.
It’s a real joy helping our clients to design a ring in time for a surprise proposal, but there’s no pressure to figure out every last detail before popping the question. Take this especially custom piece for instance, where he selected the perfect shade of Montana sapphire to put into a simple solitaire and returned later with his fiancé to make something together with Senior Designer, Sophia Shen. Together they discovered the exact kind of hexagonal setting she liked, in a geometric pattern she loved. In doing it this way, the ring provided his fiancé with not one but two surprises.
Some custom designs at Green Lake start out as one idea for ring but totally evolve into another. Originally conceived as an ornate dome shape with more of an estate feel for this natural orange diamond, Senior Designer Pia Giambrone picked up on her clients returning interest toward a feather motif. They followed that inspiration until discovering a wrap style ring composed entirely of a delicate plume. The finished piece is just as regal as its estate inspiration, only seemingly lighter and entirely original. The scale of this ring is tiny too, where Gold & Platinumsmith Quang Mac set teeny diamonds only a half of a millimeter in diameter along the feather, finishing the sparkly accents with impossibly small gold beading.
Knowing they wanted a distinctively Edwardian style engagement ring but not finding anything particularly unique, these recent Green Lake clients worked with Senior Designer Mitch Kelley to create something entirely from scratch. After looking over a wide array of yellow sapphires, they at last found the perfect pale shade for this ring’s oval center and Mitch set to work out the many elements that make this ring so notable. As with many vintage recreations made in the workshop, this is a piece that could be a 100 years old but looks brand new.
Many clients at Green Lake are increasingly interested in the origin of their gemstones, so Montana sapphires are popular choices in the studio as we source these uniquely colored gems from small-scale mines directly. Much of the rough we cut here in house are faceted into floral rose cut patterns that highlight each gem’s best properties. For this ring, Green Lake Design Director Krista Robertson worked with her clients to achieve the perfect minty green, and by adding a matte finish to traditionally polished elements like filigree, the piece feels both rustic and modern at the same time.
Okay, definitely not an engagement ring, but how could we not include this one-of-a-king Steampunk Necklace into the most unique pieces of the year? The Green Lake workshop produces more than just rings, and this iridescent agate cabochon set into a steamy coffee shop that’s operated by tiny silver robots and golden gears proves it. Designed for a costume maker and Girl Genius enthusiast, it’s a necklace that that takes custom to a whole new level – and took the collaboration of 6 artists to create.
Designer Samantha Laddin collaborated with her client to get the necklace just right, and across months of design iterations created a detailed sketch that led every aspect of the project. Amy Phillips took the sketch and translated in wearable art from the bench, creating a piece with polishes, patinas and sparkle that’s made for one person only.