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The Middle Eastern Puzzle Ring

Middle Eastern puzzle rings have been a part of my life since childhood. My father purchased two of them in Pakistan in the early 1960s when he was in the merchant marines. They bore the rough texture of sand casting in several places and they were very thin in the back.

Mom's puzzle rings
Puzzle Rings purchased by my dad in Pakistan in the early 1960s.

So thin in fact that I had to repair them for my mother several times over the years even though she rarely wore them. This was a design flaw in my opinion, but perhaps they were produced for tourists like my dad. After all, he only paid one American dime for each of them. He immediately threw away the instructions and entertained himself on the ship by trying to figure out the puzzle.

My mother called them “trick rings” and kept them hidden away for the most part. (With five children, I would do the same.)  In my early jewelry career, I wanted to recreate them and asked to borrow them. They had such sentimental value to her that she wouldn’t let them leave the house. So I spent some time drawing each individual ring as well as how they were assembled. It was necessary to study the “puzzle” of how they fit together – taking apart and reassembling them many times. Then I went home to my shop and spent about 12 hours creating my first puzzle ring. Continue reading The Middle Eastern Puzzle Ring

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Size Matters

As a bench jeweler, I can’t tell you how many times I was asked to make a ring as a gift when the customer did not have any idea of the ring size.

“She’s about 5′ 2″ and a little bit chubby. I know she wears a size 10 dress. What ring size do you think?”

I had to break it to him that, in my experience, the size of her fingers has no relation whatsoever to her height, weight or dress size. And which of her 8 fingers and two thumbs are we guessing at?

We would need to figure out her ring size another way. In the interest of secrecy, that can be a tall order without giving away a surprise. This is why jewelers will often offer one free ring sizing with the purchase of a brand new ring within a certain time period from the purchase date.

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My heart on your finger

Humans have expressed themselves through personal ornament for as long as we have existed. The way we dress, wear our hair and mark our bodies are all ways for us to communicate, in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

Jewelry may be the oldest form of  art and personal ornament with the very earliest artifacts going back to the dawn of humanity. Ancient jewelry of beads and bone held meaning that we can only guess. But the tradition of assigning meaning to the jewelry we wear has continued.

Color Inlay Ring

Custom word ring 14K

The poesy ring was popular in Medieval times and was engraved with words or phrases that held meaning to the wearers as a token of love and esteem. I became interested in the idea of words and rings about the same time I became interested in jewelry making as a career.

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The Anti-Aggressor Battle Fan 3000

This past Fall I tried something different to market my work and exhibited at a boat show.  It seemed like a good fit and that experience itself will be the subject of its own blog post later, but part of the experience helped launch a different project.

Coriander Woodruff is an artist, photographer and the daughter of my best friend, Patricia Woodruff. She was helping me out at the boat show, along with my good friend Anita, former proprietor of Sparkle’s Jewelry of West Melbourne, FL. We are three people experienced in sales of this kind, yet it was astounding to us the amount of “free advice” we gals received from the male businessmen whose booths surrounded us.

The interior of the vending tents was stifling for October. Coriander carried a metal framed martial arts fan that we all shared at times. First it just seemed like a sturdy accessory that helped to cool us, but then we realized that it could act as a barrier and deterrent to the “man-splaining” we were finding ourselves subject to hearing.

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Jewelry of Ideas

Lovely awning detail at the entrance to the Cooper Hewitt.

About 4 years ago when I returned from a study abroad program in the UK, I realized that part of what made that trip such an amazing experience was the fact that where ever we went, we found jewelry to look at. In galleries, museums, schools and artist studios. I missed that and, upon my return, suddenly realized that it didn’t take a lot of effort to continue that experience here in my own country.  Since then, I’ve tried to make an effort that whenever I travel, I look for museum exhibits and galleries that feature art jewelry, innovative craft and opportunities to connect with other jewelry artists.

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