Sometimes it can seem like a finished piece of jewellery appears ‘as if by magic’!
While there is a little bit of Orkney magic that goes in each and every piece, there’s also an intricate step-by-step process to be followed.
Every piece of Sheila Fleet Jewellery is made to order, by hand, which means your jewellery is completely unique and made just for you.
So how do we go about making your jewellery?
Step 1: Receive Your Order
We take orders for jewellery over the phone, via our website and by email. Once an order has been received, we print the requirements out on a piece of paper which is popped into the lid of a shoe box (you’ll learn how the lid of a shoebox comes in handy shortly!) and joins the queue of jewellery waiting to be made.
Step 2: Wax Trees
The order is then passed to the workshop, who create a cast version of Sheila’s original ‘master copy’. For this we use the ‘lost wax’ technique where a replica of the design is made in wax and encased by a flask. We then pour molten silver or gold into the flask. The molten metal melts the wax and fills the mould. If we have a lot of orders for the same piece of jewellery we create ‘wax trees’ where the pieces are cast together.
Step 3: Refining, Enamelling & Setting
Depending on the jewellery being made, the newly cast piece is smoothed and refined by the workshop before being taken to the enamelling room for a splash of colour. During its journey around the workshop, the jewellery lives with its order sheet inside the lid of the shoebox – a very handy container!
Enamelling is an ancient jewellery-making technique. Less than half a mile from Sheila’s workshop, artefacts with red and white enamels dating from the Iron Age were found at Minehowe. Today we continue this tradition, using a vast palate of enamel colours made from finely ground granules of glass. The granules are meticulously applied by hand to the metal with a quill then fired in the kiln.
If the piece requires extra sparkle, it returns to the workshop to be set with diamonds or precious gemstones.
Step 4: Polishing & Packaging
Nearly complete, the last step is to polish the jewellery to ensure it exudes a bright finish. It takes great skill to achieve the right lustre, without removing the subtle shapes and markings within a design.
The finished piece is now ready to be packaged in its very own Sheila Fleet Jewellery presentation box and popped into post along with our famous hand-written notes.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Jewellery
All that’s left to do now is for you to enjoy your new piece of jewellery!
Hop onto our Facebook or Twitter to let us know how the jewellery is settling into its new home.