February 13, 2020
This is a short post about a brand new piece of jewelry that my father, Gary Glandon, just finished. It is a gold turquoise ring that a customer asked him to make. We love all of Gary’s work but this is unique because gold is not a medium that he gets the opportunity to work with all that often. That isn’t to say that he does not have experience making gold jewelry. On the contrary, Gary has made quite a bit of gold jewelry over the years and, in certain instances, it can be easier to work with than sterling silver. Unfortunately, because one ounce of gold is over $1500 at the moment, more than 85 times the price of silver, it normally is not cost-effective to make these to sell at the Stagecoach. As an example, we had another customer recently contact us about having a large David Rosales pendant made in gold. This particular piece was going to run $6,600, while only $950 in silver. At $1500 an ounce, it doesn’t take a lot to run the price up pretty high.
In this instance, a customer came to us because she has always wanted a gold turquoise ring. Depending on the type, turquoise can look really stunning paired with gold. Also, if an artist goes to the extent to make solid gold turquoise jewelry, more often than not the turquoise stones that are used are quite high-grade. If you think about it, it is a bit silly to use low-quality turquoise with such an expensive material. It’s sort of like it if Rolex were to put a rubber band on their otherwise exquisite watch face. My father worked with this customer on all of the details that she wanted. Because of the high price of gold, every detail makes a difference. If you want a ring with a wide shank, as this customer did, this is going to require a lot more metal. Also, there is quite a difference in making a ring in, say, a size 5 compared to a size 10. When using gold, an artist must be sure of every detail and limit waste as much as possible.
Allow me to go off on a tangent for a moment to illustrate how important it is to limit waste. Gold adds up so quickly that a lot of jewelers who consistently work with it use devices to help collect every tiny scrap. Many go even further to collect dust from sawing, filing, and buffing jewelry. Every time a jeweler cuts or uses a buffing wheel, tiny particles are lost on the floors or in the air. Some of these jewelers employ collection devices, such as trays, vacuums, or even air filtration systems to collect these particles. This dust can then be sent to a refinery who will pay money to process and melt this down. If you are a high-volume operation, this gold dust can add up to thousands of dollars at a time.
The customer who Gary worked with picked out a lovely Royston Turquoise stone to go in this ring. Royston Turquoise can pair with gold really nicely because of its mix of blue and green. While I am certainly no expert on color theory, it can be helpful to momentarily consider the makeup of the color gold. In very general terms, the color is made up of half red, about 40% green, and just a little bit of blue. That means that in the color world there is quite a bit of green that goes into making something appear gold. Therefore, a turquoise stone with green coloring is very complimentary to gold. Together, Gary and this customer chose a stone that they thought would pair nicely and then designed the ring around it.
Gary used a simple design around this turquoise stone to help accent it. He used a rope design directly around the stone, along with a notched look around that. The notches are cut with his tiny jewelry saw and each of these different layers is soldered together. It may not look like much, but there is actually quite a lot of work and time involved in a handmade turquoise ring like this. While Gary has so much experience over the years that he can do this relatively quickly, there are still a number of hours that go into every one of his handmade jewelry pieces.
The customer who had Gary make this gold turquoise ring has since picked it up. She told us that before it was finished she had some second thoughts and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. However, when we pulled it out and showed it to her, her face lit up and she exclaimed, “wow!” The turquoise ring turned out beautifully and she was very excited. If you have ever thought about a piece of gold turquoise jewelry, whether it be a ring, pendant, or earrings, we certainly have options for you. You can go this same route, by picking out a stone and having Gary make something for you. Otherwise, some of our other artists, such as David Rosales and his team of Native American jewelry artists, can make pieces for you. Any of David’s designs can be made in gold and we would be happy to get prices for you. Whatever direction you decide upon, we are here to help ensure that you end up with a beautiful piece of gold turquoise jewelry that you can cherish for many years to come.
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