Fresh Spring Snowdrops are one of Nature’s luxuries. These delicate little beauties signal the end of our long, winter nights and are one of Sheila’s favourite flowers. Regardless of the grass, trees or weeds above, Snowdrops push through to appear along Orkney’s road verges, fields and gardens every Spring.
18ct Gold Snowdrops
This Spring Sheila tried something new with her popular Snowdrop design. Would the Snowdrops work in 18ct yellow gold, she wondered? Why would Sheila want to try 18ct yellow gold, you might ask, when she already offers Snowdrops in 9ct gold?
Well, 18ct yellow gold shows enamel colours better than any other gold. This metal’s beautiful colour glows through the translucent enamel creating a wonderful canvas for the colourways in the molten grains of glass above. Sheila loves working with 18ct yellow gold and describes it as a “sumptuous metal”.
While her 9ct gold Snowdrops are exquisite, the wish to have contrasting colours on her gold designs, as in her silver designs, never left Sheila. And so work began...
Success! Perfect, little Snowdrops in 18ct yellow gold with enamel colours – they almost look real! But these little flowers will never fade. We went through an interesting learning curve making these beauties…
Enamelling the Gold Snowdrops
The first stages of making the designs in 18ct gold presented nothing more than the usual challenges. However, when it came to the enamelling, Sheila wanted to try something special to create the petals: a new, translucent, white enamel…
Sheila named her new enamel Opal White and asked one of her most experienced enamellers, Hayley, to tackle the 18ct gold designs. Hayley picked up her goose quill…
Not too thick, not too thin, it has to be just right… as with all our enamel jewellery Hayley applies the tiny glass grains using a trimmed and pointed goose quill then she fires each piece individually in a specialist kiln.
Only this time Hayley was working out exactly how the enamel should be applied on each piece and precisely how long each piece should be fired – we’re counting seconds here.
It’s a process which can take several days but there are advantages. Not many people have a work station covered in 18ct gold!
The image above shows the three steps involved in Hayley’s work: the Snowdrops in the middle are her starting point. Once she has enamelled them they will look like the large pendant piece on the right, which is about to go into the kiln. While the Snowdrops on the left on the wire supports are just out of the kiln. You can see the gold has turned a dark colour, so now it’s time for the next phase.
Polishing the Gold Snowdrops
Once Hayley has perfected the enamelling, the Snowdrops return to the jeweller’s bench. Here experienced hands gently polish the piece until the glow comes back into the yellow gold.
As the soft mop spins the piece becomes more and more beautiful. The jeweller is aiming to polish the metal, the enamel is fine. Small pieces can require special handling methods to get the proper finish.
Looking lovely and shiny!
Ready for you!
And finally, Sheila was delighted when Leanne agreed to model the finished 18ct Gold Snowdrops. Leanne is wearing a Snowdrop pendant with matching stud earrings – beautiful, thank you, Leanne! Explore more on our new webpage.
Leanne is moving from the Kirkwall Gallery to the new Kirk Gallery & Cafe as we’re opening on Wednesday 4 April at 9 am!
These Spring Snowdrops herald a whole new era for Sheila Fleet Jewellery this year… looking forward to seeing you in the Kirk!
Happy Easter everyone!