A baby contest becomes a war

My son Owen G walker and his son Oliver Levi Walker the bracelet boys

My son Owen G walker and his son Oliver Levi Walker the bracelet boys

Back in the 1990’s Walker Goldsmiths became aware through our friends Ken and Monica Decker in Ketchikan of a part of Celebration that came to be called “The Grandmother Wars”. Celebration is a biannual gathering to celebrate SE Alaskan Native cultures (Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida) hosted by Sealaska Corporation. One of the events back then was a baby beauty contest, this was not just about pretty babies but pretty babies dressed in traditional regalia. There was a great deal of miniature regalia being made for this contest and everyone knows you are not fully dressed without your jewelry! Things quickly escalated to a display of very expensive gold and silver jewelry and expensive regalia that overshadowed the babies that were supposed to be the focal point.

The Baby Beauty Contest is no longer held as the competition became so fierce that people were spending way too much money and taking it way too seriously, to the point where it was being called “the Grandmother Wars”. As a Grandparent I can sympathize as the only time I was ever tempted to ram a Cadillac was when I saw the bumper sticker that said “My grandkids are cuter than your grandkids.” If I had been in my old truck, there might have been an accident report!
The preparations for the contest started a bit of a tradition of getting your new grandchild a silver baby bracelet and we love to be part of that! I took some of my designs and shrunk them to baby size and carved them up! Being a grandfather myself I take particular joy in carving baby bracelets. Grandparenthood is a wonderful adventure but we have to be careful that we don’t turn a baby contest into a war!

Thundrbird baby bracelet to protect baby from any danger

Thundrbird baby bracelet to protect baby from any danger

Salmon baby bracelet to help baby to be well fed!

Salmon baby bracelet to help baby to be well fed!

A Variation on the Horseshoe Nail Engagement Ring

14kt White Gold Horseshoe Nail Ring with diamonds

Horseshoe Nail Engagement Ring

Walker Goldsmiths received an email from a young man who wanted a Custom Horseshoe Nail Diamond Engagement Ring.  He said, because “his girl was really into horses”!  We Love it!!  We love Horses too!

We sent him this information on how to get this ring rolling;

Step (1)  Find out her ring size.

Step (2) Figure out how much you can afford to spend on this ring. Do you or your families have any stones or metal that you want to put into this ring or trade?

Step (3) Let us know and we can then figure out how many and what size diamonds we can put in this ring.

Step (4) We draw you a picture of the ring with the correct number of diamonds and their sizes to fit your budget and let you know the exact cost of the job.  We like to have clear communication all along the way.

Step (5) We start on the wax carving and send you pictures to get your approval.  This is where we figure out if we’re really communicating!  Then you pay us at least half of the cost via PayPal to [email protected]  Or you can pay the whole fee, it’s up to you, whatever works best for you.

Step (6) We finish the ring, showing you pictures of our process all along the way and you pay us the final half payment if that was your choice. PayPal will notify us when this final payment goes through from you.

Step (7) We ship the ring to you and send tracking #s and estimated delivery date.

14 kt White Gold Horseshoe Nail Engagement Ring with Diamonds

14 kt White Gold Horseshoe Nail Engagement Ring with Diamonds

It was a fun ride for Walker Goldsmiths to create such a beautiful ring.  Thank you, Dusten, for the clear communication and fun that we had making this Custom Horseshoe Nail Diamond Engagement Ring for you and your sweetheart.

 

Colored Gemstones are Always Attractive in Custom Rings

14kt Otter Ring with a Lavender Sapphire

Custom Otter Ring with Lavender Sapphire

Sometimes a beautiful gem becomes available to Walker Goldsmiths so I try to creation some yummy tidbit in case folks are looking for something special.  Always attractive and special are one of a kind custom rings.

The little sensuous Otter Ring that I created for our Potlatch Ring Collection was a fun choice for this challenge. The original design for our Otter Ring has these critters wrapping and swimming around each other so I just widened the space between them and inserted a crown to fit this exceptional 5mm Lavender Sapphire gemstone.  These Otters could be River Otters or Sea Otters, but the water element associated with the gorgeous color of the Sapphire works for me!  Owen and I traveled south to see our Grandkids this winter and while we were in Monterey Bay having lunch on a dock restaurant on Cannery Row we watched a Sea Otter also leisurely having lunch.  They float along munching on a sea urchin or clam with their leg anchoring themselves to a clump of floating kelp seaweed, so very fun to watch.  This was a first time seeing a Sea Otter in the wild for me. The Sea Otter tends to stay on the ocean where their food source lives among the kelp beds.  They are important in helping the kelp seaweed stay healthy which is vital to the health of the sea.

Photo of Walker-Goldsmiths-Cast-Sterling-Ring-#310-frontview

Walker Goldsmiths Lost Wax Cast Sterling Otter Ring #310, frontview

I’ve seen lots of River Otters living as I have in the Pacific Northwest with it’s many large rivers, coastlines and islands.  There’s lots of healthy River Otters around here and some of them get really large, as big as a very young Labrador retriever.  It’s fun to spy them being playful and tumbling about and that’s what I wanted to depict on my Otter Ring. Otters are considered to be spiritually powerful because they live in 3 elements; water and land, like the frog.

It’s really interesting for me, a trade bead collector, knowing the history of the Otters and the crucial part they played in the Fur Trade in the Pacific Northwest.  The history of the Fur Trade is so interesting with it’s sources, intrigues, and manipulations that I truly love and respect the endurance and determination of the Otter. So with a nod to the Otters of the Northwest Coast it was very fun for Walker Goldsmiths to create a beautiful 14kt. Otter Ring with a Lavender Sapphire.

Sensuous 14kt. Otters with a Lavender Sapphire

Sensuous 14kt. Otters with a Lavender Sapphire

 

A Nature Inspired Custom Engagement Ring with a Beautiful Sapphire

Sterling Silver and Sapphire Gemstone Custom Engagement Ring

Sterling Silver and Sapphire Gemstone Custom Engagement Ring

Megan and Kris came to Walker Goldsmiths hunting for a unique Custom Engagement Ring.  They’re both nature lovers and most comfortable with symbols of the earth on their important jewelry.  This, of course, is very appealing to me, the garden and outdoors girl.  Megan kept talking about wanting a ring that looked like branches!  She’s an excellent artist so I had her draw some pictures of her ideas and then I carved it in wax.  Lots of fun for me making this Custom Ring!

Wax Carving for a Custom Engagement Ring

Wax Carving for a Custom Engagement Ring

Megan approved the wax, Owen invested it and lost wax cast it into Sterling Silver then finished it beautifully.  We soldered in a 14kt white gold crown and set a gorgeous oval Sapphire.  The branches are textured like bark with leaves with veins shaped and carved. The intention was to antique the Sterling to enhance the natural look.  Walker Goldsmiths insisted on a 14kt White Gold crown for the Sapphire so that the crown would not get the antique patina and would continue to give the Sapphire the best light to show it’s beauty.

Kris is also a talented individual, his talents lean to entertainment and presentation skills.  He told me that he is drawn to the element water so his desire to get his Sweetie a Colored Gemstone, especially a sea blue Sapphire was his heart’s desire.  He loves the energy water gives him and I can totally relate to that since we intentionally choose to live by the sea for this very reason.  Also, Megan is originally a Montana girl and Sapphires are a famous natural stone from Montana.  Me too and I love Sapphires!  Kris with his presentation skills proposed to Megan on stage at the Bellingham Upfront Theater that highlights live Improve Shows.  I saw the video clip and was very touched by his wonderful proposal on stage.  Definitely pleased Megan and she did say yes!

Branches and the Sea Custom Engagement Ring

Branches and the Sea Custom Engagement Ring

Thank you Megan and Kris for letting Walker Goldsmiths share in your excitement and happiness with this nature inspired Custom Engagement Ring!

Custom Wedding Ring with a Christmas Star (Sapphire) from Afghanistan

Midnight blue Star Sapphire White Gold Ring

Custom Star Sapphire Ring

Beautiful Melanie contacted Walker Goldsmiths about setting her Star Sapphire into a Custom Wedding Ring. We’ve known Melanie since she was a very little girl and now she’s a grown up wife of a soldier that we’ve know for a long time too. Brandon is on his second deployment and not with his sweetheart this Christmas. That being said, it was important for us to create this Custom Star Sapphire Ring for Melanie so she could wear it this holiday season.

The story is that Brandon got this midnight blue, Star Sapphire while he was in Afghanistan on his last deployment there and he gave it to Melanie when he was home, she said, “he got the stone in a market in northern Afghanistan and was told that it originated in India.”  Melanie came to Walker Goldsmiths with some jewelry that she wanted to recycle into a ring that has sentiment and character for her. We sat down together, searched and drew designs until she settled on one that captured her fancy. We used two of the diamonds from one of the rings she recycled to create this new and beautiful ring.  I carved a wax in the style she wanted then got a 14 kt White Gold Scroll Crown for her Sapphire.  We wanted that Star Sapphire to be as visible as possible.

Scroll Crown for Star Sapphire on Wax Ring

Scroll Crown for Star Sapphire on Wax Ring

A Star Sapphire is a type of sapphire that exhibits a star-like phenomenon known as asterism, which is different from a regular transparent sapphire because it has aligned needle-like inclusions following the underlying crystal structure that causes the appearance of a six-rayed “star”-shaped pattern. These rutile inclusions result in a silky luster when cut and polished. These special Sapphire stones are cut to keep the center of the star near the top of the dome so the star appears to float across the surface of the stone. The six-rayed-star effect appears most clearly under natural light, it has no distinct cleavage and has a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, just under diamonds. They are a good stone for everyday wear on a ring and that’s what Melanie plans to do.

Owen lost wax cast her ring with her recycled 14 kt White Gold, had the crown mounted and stones set.  It all turned out gorgeous! Melanie’s Midnight Custom Blue Star Sapphire Ring has the perfect Christmas Star floating in it’s surface.  Thank you for letting Walker Goldsmiths make this lovely keepsake for you. Happy New Year to you kids! And special wishes that you will be together before long.

Christmas Star Sapphire Ring with Two Diamonds

Christmas Star Sapphire Ring with Two Diamonds

 

Loon hand carved sterling silver bracelet

Loon is rather rare in North West Coast art which seems a bit strange as there are so many loons living here. Perhaps it is because they spend so much time underwater. He appears as a kind of minor walk on character in a few stories, but nothing of a nature to inspire illustration. We felt that since he is a symbol of Canada we should have a loon bracelet in out collection so we came up with this little guy of which we are quite fond! I like wearing different creatures on my wrist and exploring how I feel when I wear them. I have the greatest affinity for the Raven, then the Orca. Many people have remarked that the Loon’s call is lonely or sad, having grown up in the bush I think Loon is actually rejoicing that no one is around to bother him! I think when I’m wearing my Loon bracelet I hear them calling to me more often than when I’m wearing Raven or Bear. This is an experiment in mysticism that I am still exploring!

Hand carved sterling bracelet by Owen Walker .75 inch w/o border D34 $300

Hand carved sterling silver Loon bracelet by Owen Walker

Hand carved sterling silver Loon bracelet by Owen Walker

Loon hand carved sterling silver bracelet Design #34

Loon hand carved sterling silver bracelet Design #34

 

Leslie’s Elegant and Sophisticated Custom Memorial Ring

14kt Memorial Ring from Recycled Family jewelry

Memorial Ring from Recycled Family jewelry

When Leslie contacted Walker Goldsmiths about making a Custom Memorial Ring for her we invited her to come out to the Studio. She and her family live in our area and it was fun to meet friends of our kids’ friends! Leslie is the neighbor of one of our daughters’ friends and the word is out about our jewelry work and friendly professional service.

Leslie explained that she wanted to, “have a Memorial Ring to commemorate both my folks”.  She brought a nice collection of rings and earrings, a tie tac, a couple of loose diamonds, a pair of diamond earrings and a pendant from her childhood with a melee diamond on it that was special to her.  These special and familiar old pieces were what she wanted to recycle and make into a useful form for her and her lifestyle.  Not only was she not going to wear them in the form they were in, but they had sentimental value to her and it made her sad that she wasn’t wearing them and seeing them and their history.

We talked about what would be good for her and a ring was really what she wanted.  That set us off to decide on style and function for her busy momma and professional life.  Leslie loves blue so a large bright blue laboratory created Sapphire was found and would be the center stone, with both 1/2 ct. diamonds, two smaller diamonds on either side, and one very sentimental melee on one side only.  These would be hammer set for a smooth surface with no elements to catch on anything.  We would use her yellow gold, alloying any 10kt up to 14kt.  So we were good to go ahead drawing the design, then wax carving to fit the stones with Leslie approving all the way.  This size and design was destined for elegance.

Owen lost wax cast the ring using her 14kt yellow gold and finished it preparing it for stone setting.  We had  all the stones hammer set flush to the top of the metal beautifully.  My goal was to have the Recycled Memorial Ring to her to wear before Thanksgiving and the vacation they were planning and Walker Goldsmiths accomplished it!  Thank you Leslie for letting Walker Goldsmiths be in on the creation and recycling of old jewelry into this Elegant and Sophisticated Custom Memorial Ring.

A sapphire and 5 diamonds in a 14kt Recycled Memorial Ring

Sapphire and Diamonds in a Recycled 14kt Memorial Ring

Recycling Family Gold for a Special Christmas Gift

Recycling Family Gold for a Special Christmas Gift

14kt Red and White Gold Custom Rose Pendant

Recycling Family Gold for a special Christmas gift is one of Walker Goldsmiths’ favorite jobs. Donna had arranged for Walker Goldsmiths to recycle family gold for her own ring and there was gold left over from that experience. She had us hold on to it until she could figure out just what she wanted to do with it.

We got a package from Donna in the fall with some more family gold saying she wanted a gift made for her daughter who is a Chaplain in the Air Force and she thought a special pendant was in order made from her grandparents rings, possibly a Custom Rose Pendant. So we worked together with Donna, emailing back and forth with pictures and ideas about how to go forward on this project. Donna wanted a two color Custom Rose Pendant made out of the special sentimental family gold she had sent us. Owen alloyed some of the gold to make into 14kt Red Gold and on we went!

Rose Pendant carved from wax

Custom wax Rose

I carved a rose pendant and emailed pictures for Donna’s approval, which I got. Next I cut the wax rose apart, sprued them for casting into two different colors of gold; 14kt Red Gold for the flower and 14kt White Gold for the stem. Owen lost wax cast them each flawlessly and they turned out beautiful. The tricky part was soldering the two parts together and setting 4 melee diamonds on the rose and leaves!

This was a very fun project for Walker Goldsmiths and made even more enjoyable knowing this Recycling of Family Gold was a special surprise Christmas Gift for Donna’s daughter. Thanks for the privilege to be in on the surprise !

Another Fun and Romantic Story Ring

14kt Palladium White Gold Surfer Story Ring

14kt Palladium White Gold Surfer Story Ring

Another fun and romantic “Story Ring” by Walker Goldsmiths is off to surprise a customer’s husband on their 10th Anniversary.  Zea got a hold of Walker Goldsmiths telling us that she and her fiancé had spent some lovely romantic time on Cape Henelopen in Delaware. They married and were now about to celebrate their 10th Anniversary.  She was very interested in surprising him with a “Story Ring” depicting a view of the beach where they fell in love.  She emailed us, “I truly would love the dunes & seagrass on the ring as that is where my hubby proposed in Cape Henelopen State Park Delaware. My hubby is a lifetime surfer so I’m trying to get a view that is as close to reality as possible. I like forward crashing waves, seagrass, sand fences and long slopping dunes.”

I said, “Wonderful! I’m loving your Cape Henelopen story.”  Zea wanted the ring to be 10mm wide and a size 10.   I started carving wax and we shot pictures back and forth of what I was up to and what she wanted on the ring.  Zea approved the wax and we began the casting process.

Wax carving of Story Ring

Wax carving of Story Ring

Owen lost wax cast it in 14kt Palladium White Gold and we tucked it in the mail to get off to surprise her sweetheart. We love email here at Walker Goldsmiths because we can closely communicate with folks about their jewelry desires with words and pictures!  Zea said, “Thank you again for keeping posted with progress!!!!! I was really apprehensive at first about doing something like this via email but you have been great keeping in touch & I feel like I’ve been right there!!!

As it turns out this “Story Ring” by Walker Goldsmiths is also a “Surfer Ring” and we love that we got to participate in this continuing story about this lovely couple.  Thank you, Zenovia, for the fun time Walker Goldsmiths has had with you creating this piece of romantic art.

14kt Palladium White Gold Surfer Story Ring

14kt Palladium White Gold Surfer Story Ring

 

Trade Beads and a Prehistoric Artifact

Artifact of Prehistoric Walrus Harpoon Head "Shaft Socket" with Blue and Green Trade Beads

Artifact of Prehistoric Walrus Harpoon Head “Shaft Socket” with Trade Beads

Here at Walker Goldsmiths I love to create Trade Bead Jewelry especially with Prehistoric Artifacts, because Trade Beads are themselves artifacts from bygone eras. That’s not to say that they aren’t collected and sold and traded today, but they are more a beautiful historic curiosity than a currency of sorts. Each bead has an interesting history not to mention exquisite beauty. I have an extensive collection that I create with and I’m always trading, buying and selling them to others who appreciate them.

These artifacts that I sometimes include in my Trade Bead Necklaces are possibly as old as 5,000 yrs. They have been buried for years where they were either broken and lost or discarded, made by prehistoric residents of the Alaskan Arctic from Walrus Tusks that they hunted, then used every bit of the animal for their daily life. They’ve now been searched for and found by children who comb the beaches and creek banks of the Alaskan Arctic looking for these artifacts eroding out of the soil and gravel. They then sell them to a trader and we buy them and create beautiful jewelry. I totally believe this is a good chain of events for these precious beautiful pieces of workmanship, not unlike the trade beads I collect that have been made and are each one of a kind bits of beauty and history. Owen tells me that this is a great “kid business, “because they don’t have lawns to mow in the Arctic!”

This featured Trade Bead Necklace, TB507, with a Prehistoric Walrus Harpoon Head “Shaft Socket” Artifact, includes Blue Russians, circa 1800’s or earlier, and Cobalt Czech glass beads. The Turquoise heishi is newer but was also, and still is, used as a trade item all over Eastern Europe and the American SW. Green Melon Chevrons are a marvelous work of art from the early glassmaking era in Murano, Venice or the Gablanz, Bohemia glass industry in the 16th century. The small bright blue spacers are Venetian made, but called French Blue White hearts because of the blue uniforms the French Army used to wear, and have a white center with an blue glass overlay.

Beautiful Blues and Green Trade Beads

Beautiful Blues and Green Trade Beads

Walker Goldsmiths feels honored to even be able to see and touch these Prehistoric Artifacts and Trade Beads and to make them available to anyone who wants them also. There are sweet bits of history in this necklace that we’re offering for $ 250.