Custom Sea Turtle Pendant

I love working with my clients to design custom jewelry. For this piece, I was asked to design earrings that featured sea turtles and emeralds. I wasn’t given much else in terms of direction or a budget, so I started my first round of sketches to see how my thoughts matched up with my client’s thoughts.

The first sketch featured etched Argentium hollow forms accented by 18k Yellow gold elements with natural emeralds. This sketch was, in many ways, me reaching for the stars. Since I wasn’t given a budget, I went all out with natural AA grade gemstones and high karat gold accents.

Now that we had a starting point, we could discuss what we liked, and what we didn’t like, and revise the piece from there. The client loved the proposed etching and the hollow form construction. The price was a bit out of her budget, so we eliminated the 18k gold elements and used Argentium Sterling Silver for the entire piece.

The other way we reduced the price was to use Chatham, lab-grown, emeralds instead of natural stones. Chatham Emeralds start with a naturally mined seed of fine Colombian emerald with perfect color. In a lab, Chatham creates a controlled environment rich in chromium to give the crystals a rich green hue. The crystals grow larger and cleaner than the emeralds grown in nature. When cut these lab-grown stones are essentially flawless in clarity and highly saturated in color.

Sadly, the price was still a bit out of the budget. When we discussed the price breakdown we realized that the bulk of the cost of these earrings were in the stones. Although Chatham Emeralds are less expensive than natural stones, they are still real emeralds and have a price tag that reflects that. That was when we decided to change course and go with a pendant instead of earrings. That way we only needed to purchase one emerald instead of two.

The final design featured a large, statement-making, Argentium Sterling Silver hollow form accented by a modest, 4mm Chatham Emerald. With an approved design, it was now time to begin fabrication.