I thought wearing a piece that I designed was surreal, that is until I saw one being made.
On each trip overseas, we try to visit at least one of our manufacturer’s workshops or factories. On this trip to Bangkok we were able to spend a day with a supplier that we have worked with for about thirty years. In fact, my dad started our relationship with them when he was our Merchandise Manager. We not only have long term relationships with our associates and customers, but also with our suppliers!
We arrived at a beautiful facility of multiple buildings. Our hosts shared that the main office had just been remodeled and they had two buildings for production, a dining/recreation facility, and three apartment buildings that charge minimal rent to those who want to live on premises. The complex was impressive in both scale and sophistication.
As we toured their facility, we walked by a large room full of focused people working on the initial jewelry molds (or at least they were focused until we started staring and taking photos).
We didn’t spend much time in the casting or polishing areas because we were on our way to see my pieces that were scattered throughout the stone cutting and setting stages. The first glimpse I had of my pieces was of my telltale L peaking through as a stone setter carefully set each black sapphire.
Every black sapphire is set individually, placing them in to space that has been drilled for them. Making sure that it is set straight and evenly with the other gemstones. Once it is in place, the prongs are bent to secure the stone tightly and the prongs are polished to a bright shine.
Then it was time to see the center stone being cut and polished. For the unusual shape of the lapis our manufacturer selects large pieces of rough lapis to work from. As they begin cutting the large piece they look at the natural veining and patterns of the stone to cut the best pieces for the collection, ones with a deep blue color, and the right balance of pyrite and calcite.
After selecting the piece, a polisher begins to shape the stone. It took each polisher two years to learn how to polish gemstones. With that knowledge, they carefully and patiently polish each edge and facet of the lapis first to give it the shape and then its shine. It wasn’t a fast process, the polishing of each lapis alone takes thirty minutes.
After seeing all of the effort that goes in to building each ring, I am just amazed. Each piece is that much more special knowing all of the hands that it takes to bring a piece to life.
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