The Creation of a Precious Ring

Marcus got in touch with me wanting to get a bespoke ring crafted for his wife for their 5th wedding anniversary. We discussed options and he emailed through images of what he thought his wife may like. We quickly recognised the Fancy Cut Pounamu was a favourite and then decided on a setting option, he liked the full bezel around the stone which is a really safe and sturdy design. The clean lines on the smooth, plain ring band married with the same sleek, clean lines of the faceted Pounamu and full bezel were an instant winner.

I wanted to create something special for them so I chose a piece of Pounamu that was really unique. This particular piece of Pounamu is from the Takaka river in Nelson. Pounamu from that region is quite rare, especially in that lovely light green colour with pale blue streaks/veins running through it. So that was perfect for what I wanted.

I start off with by cutting my piece of Pounamu and glueing it to my dopping stick.

Pounamu Facet by Courtney Marama

Using industrial diamond gear to cut the Pounamu I then pre form it, getting it into the shape I want.

Pounamu Facet by Courtney Marama

After that I add each facet, one by one, slowly.

Pounamu Facet by Courtney Marama

I then use a much higher grit to get the final top table and to polish them perfectly, all of this is done on my faceting machine.

Pounamu Facet by Courtney Marama

After the final polish it is ready to have a ring made for it to sit in.

Pounamu Facet by Courtney Marama

Now I hand fabricate the 9k Gold ring to go with the custom cut stone. All hand fabricated in my studio in the Waikato. A lot of measuring, sawing, bending, filing, soldering and sanding goes into the fabrication process…its a lengthy process and each piece needs to be absolutely perfect right, down to the 0.1 of a millimetre otherwise the stone wont fit or the ring band will be to big.

I start with gold wire and sheet, measuring, bending, soldering and hammering the ring band into shape. And measuring, cutting and filing the pieces for the bezel around the stone so it can fit perfectly in place.

Marama Jewellery Process
Marama Jewellery Process
Marama Jewellery Process

The bezel soldered together and the stone fits like a glove!

Marama Jewellery Process

Its then soldered to its base, some more sawing, sanding and filing to get it into shape and ready to be soldered to the ring shank.

Marama Jewellery Process

Freshly soldered at the soldering station and is almost camouflaged into the soldering board and borax. It now needs to be cleaned, every edge, corner and flat needs to be sanded and polished to prepare it for the stone setting.

Marama Jewellery Process

Nearly ready.

Marama Jewellery Process

The ring is put in the setting goo to support it so I am able to use both my hands to set the stone with precision.

Marama Jewellery Process

All set! Now to take it out, give it one more final polish and its ready!

Marama Jewellery Pounamu Greenstone

There are so many more steps in between all of this, but I had to narrow it down. You get the idea. A lot of love, time and effort goes into creating a bespoke ring. From the precision faceting of the stone to the fabrication of the ring. It’s all worth while to have a result as stunning as this.

Once the ring was complete I contacted Marcus and gave him his information about the ring, including that I had chosen a piece of Pounamu from the Nelson region, Takaka River. It turns out, they both grew up in Nelson and have shared many memories together around Takaka. So in the end, that piece of Pounamu was far more perfect than I had ever imagined.

Thank you Marcus for trusting me to craft such a precious ring for your wife, I hope she loves it.

Courtney Marama

Faceting New Zealand Gemstones

New Zealand has some lovely gemstones other than Pounamu that aren’t well known or even used in jewellery. Creating jewellery not only using ONLY New Zealand gemstones but also cutting my own New Zealand gemstones was a dream of mine since I first started making jewellery when I was studying back in 2000. I never really thought it was possible, I thought it would be too hard to source them and cut each and every single piece. I could never really imagine how I could do it, for at that time I was only learning silversmithing not stone cutting. Fast forward 8 years to now and I have done it…I have persevered through times when I didn’t know if people would appreciate my ethos and desire to restrict myself to New Zealands small treasures. Many people said it wasn’t possible and thought it easier to just purchase ready made gems from all over the world, because they were popular. It is something I feel very strongly about from many different facets of view points, not only being able to showcase New Zealands gemstones in a modern and different way but also ethically gems that come from New Zealand have not been heavily mined for. So no child labour, no un-safe working conditions, no low wages, no chemicals leaching into the earth, no large scale scars in the earth from mining. I can pretty much trace back every gem I use to its region. Depending on the stone here in NZ they are often dug up from hobbyists going on field trips or found in rivers and beaches. In the near future (2019) you will see more and more NZ gemstones other than Pounamu and I cannot wait to start sharing them with you. In the following images I am sharing with you small snippets of my progress when faceting my gemstones.

From left to right - Carnelian (Coromandel), Pounamu (Marsden), Pounamu (West coast), Pounamu (Nelson)

Marama Faceting

Using industrial diamond cutting gear I start off by selecting high quality pieces of material and cut them roughly enough to my shape to get started.

Marama Faceting

They then get the exterior shaped, using the shape of the stone and creating as little waste as possible.

Marama Faceting

Their first facets are cut and their top table is taken down to the correct level. Everything has to be so precise otherwise the finish wont be as clean.

Marama Faceting

They are all done on my faceting machine, using different diamond grits from 220grit all the way up to 3000grit plus polishing. Slowly, each facet it cut, one by one.

Marama Faceting

There is actually more levels of facets than these pictures show, which if you get to see one in real life you will notice. Pounamu is more of an Opaque stone which means the light bounces off the surface and they hold their rich colour. With a final polish they are complete. In this final picture if you were wondering, yes, there is one missing, that one will be in another blog post soon complete with its fabricated ring process. There are many more steps involved in the process but this gives you an idea of how it is done. Thank you for viewing my first blog post and I hope you appreciate how much effort goes into each of my pieces as much as I do. There will be plenty more blog posts in 2019!

Courtney Marama