Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Floating Opals

A few weeks ago a customer of mine whom I know personally gave me a necklace to repair that had been her mother's, and before that her grandmother's. It was a small glass globe containing what she called pearls but which I knew right away were raw opals, suspended in liquid. It had lost its silver cap and I do not know what the original looked like.

I had never seen this particular type of pedant but I was confident that it would be fairly straightforward to create a new cap for it with some research. My single favorite thing about the internet is that it gives access to information and to experts to so many people who would otherwise have a very hard time connecting with these resources. I was able to quickly discover that floating opal pendants were invented in the early 1900s, get any idea of what antique caps looked like, and find a lovely Etsyer who sells floating opals and was able to give me advice on what epoxies she finds are best for securing caps to the opals.

Here are prototype caps that I made while working on settling dimensions and design.

After making a template that fit the cap, I made the final one in sterling silver.  Here it is, with its components waiting to be soldered together, and then all soldered together.

What was left of the original cap was secured with a thin bit of steel wire, and I wanted to do the same; should the epoxy ever fail in the future I wanted a back-up that would at least keep the globe itself from being lost.

I epoxied the cap to the globe, wrapping the wire around the neck of the globe for extra security.  Here is the finished product.  Were I to do it again, I'd fit the leaves of the cap more closely together so that the stem of the globe was not at all visible from the outside, but I'm satisfied with how my modern version of the cap calls to mind the style of antique floating opal pendants.

My customer was really happy with the final product, which made me very happy in return because I knew how much sentimental and nostalgic value the piece had to her. I love this kind of challenge!!

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