Returning to my Jewelry Roots (sorta)

Long time ago I worked for the Gemological Institute of America as a course-writer. That is to say, I wrote course materials to train jewelers and gemologists. As I was doing that I also took a few of the basic level courses (Pearl and Bead Stringing and Diamonds) and learned more about diamonds and precious metal alloys than I really wanted to know.

So I went out today, taking a break from the revision which is nearing completion, to get my mom a late Christmas present (due to deadlines, and snowstorms, we didn’t get together for any holiday celebrations during the actual horror-day season) and found myself thinking… “Hey… I could make something she’d like more…”

Now I know my mom’s not currently using her computer online, so I feel safe posting this, since she won’t see it before she gets the present and probably won’t think to go back and read the archives in a few weeks….

The saga of the little present that could (be a disaster) is below the cut because it has lots of photos….

First a little background: I have a watch on a long chain that I wear around my neck most of the time lately. My mom had admired it, so I thought I’d get her one, but I knew what she really wanted was a replacement for her old Sister’s Watch–that’s an English nurse’s watch that’s hung upside-down from a brooch so the nurse can read it just by looking down at her chest–ideal for taking pulses without having to turn your wrist. Got it? Good.

So I bought a cute little watch on a wrist chain thing and headed off to Fusion Beads to pick up the bar pin I’d need to hang it from. It turned out they didn’t have it, but they did have a couple of other bits I’d need and I picked those up–notably the dangle you’ll see below and the patina’d jump-rings.

Next stop was a Joanne’s Fabric and Crafts store for a pin. Unfortunately they didn’t have the sort I was really looking for–a bar pin with hanging loops already attached. They used to be really common a few years ago but now I can’t seem to find one. If I’d thought of it earlier, I’d probably have been able to order one online or from the Jewelry Findings company I used to frequent that’s hidden in a building in downtown Seattle. No luck this time so I had to improvise using a premade chain part, a small pin-back, some brass wire and some Jeweler’s glue.
Here’s the complete result:

small view of my mom's deco-style Sister's Watch

The whole thing’s just about 3.5″ long–sorry I forgot to put in a scale indicator, but the watch face is about as big as my thumbnail, if that helps.

It’s not my best work, I have to own up (but I haven’t done any jewelry work in over 10 years so I hope that’s a rectifiable problem). The finding’s are not matched for color and the jury-rigged pin is a bit inelegant:

Pin detail

I used a standard small brass pin back. Then I clipped the top link rings off the fleur-de-lis chain link, filed them down with a heavy-duty nail file meant for acrylic fingernails, and glued the whole thing to the pin back with clear jeweler’s glue. I added a twist of brass wire at the center of the fleur-de-lis to support the weight of the watch if the glue failed, since the fleur isn’t entirely solid, but slightly carved out in back. You can see the glue and the wire a bit in the photo above, which is aobut three times actual size.

While the glue was setting, I removed the watch from its original wrist chain and attached jump rings to each end. At what would usually be the top, I attached the dangle: an Art Deco butterfly lady in the style of William Morris that I got at Fusion bead along with the matching jump rings. They’re not a bad match for the color of the watch–better than the pin is, though they could use a bit of rubbing to lighten the patina.

Here’s the dangle up close:

Watch dangle detail

Over all it’s not bad for a first -attempt in a hurry with jury-rigged materials and cheap tools. It wasn’t actually cheap, sadly, since I had to buy the tools, pay craft-store prices for parts which only came in big bags, and if I’d known they were available at the craft store, I could have bought the watch head alone for a third of what I paid for the whole watch I took apart. Total cost on this puppy was about $60. if I’d been a bit more savvy and thought ahead, it would have cost about $12 and I wouldn’t have spent so much time running around looking for the bits. Eventually I’ll probably replace the pin once I find something better in a findings catalog, but I hope this will do for now.

I hope she likes it…

Here’s a bigger view of the finished Art Deco Sister’s Watch (about twice actual size):

Deco Sister's Watch about 2x actual size

If you’re feeling super snoopy you can see the really big version here.


About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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4 Responses to Returning to my Jewelry Roots (sorta)

  1. Sandy says:

    Oh, how lovely, she will treasure it, well done. I had forgotten that you had done that sort of thing. You should take time to do more, very therapeutic break action for you. I shall bedevil you with advice the next time you come as I have been playing around with this sort of thing.

  2. Adele says:

    that’s really lovely.

  3. -V- says:

    That is a truly lovely piece and a gorgeous thought process behind the gift.

  4. Mom was Very Pleased indeed and that makes me happy.

    I have to admit that several things about the project’s finish bother me a lot. One of those being the plier scars on the one jump ring–I’d forgotten that cheap tools tend to have sharp edges that need a bit of taping up to avoid marring delicate surfaces like that sort of patina. Luckily it’s almost invisible at normal size.

    I’m still going to look for a better pin to replace the one I made since I don’t really care for it at all–it doesn’t quite hit the design mark I had in mind as well as being somewhat less than fab in the build.

    Still… it worked and Mom’s pleased and that’s A Good Thing!

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