Tag Archive | yellow gold

Through the Loupe with…Karen Elizabeth Donovan

For March’s edition of “through the Loupe”  we’re joined by Karen Donovan, award-winning jeweller we discovered through New Designers and are so delighted to be able to showcase Karen’s beautiful and unusual jewellery.  With stunning detail Karen has recently created some jewellery with fantastic volume and a great use of colour, we’re really excited to see what else the future holds for this talented lady and hope you will follow her journey with us!

 

 

Tell us a bit about the jewellery you design:

 

I try to design jewellery that speaks to my experiences in life.  I moved to Scotland to do my postgraduate degree because I fell in love with Britain when I was younger.  My experiences here, including the people, the landscape and my interactions with the history formed a conversation that I could answer with my jewellery.  I have found the plants of Scotland to be completely different to those at home, and incredibly potent to the people here.  Once I had focused on these plants, namely Heather, the jewellery became easier to design.  I love stories, so when trying to find forms for my jewellery to take I looked into the social history of plants and the history of Britain’s jewels.  I think that stories are universally connecting – everyone loves a story.

  
[That’s really interesting because one of the reasons I love this necklace, above, is that it reminds me of the story of sleeping beauty and the forest that sprang up around her whilst she slept, I can just imagine the Prince cutting through the tangle of interwoven foliage when I look at it! Lovely]
 
How did you get into jewellery designing?
I took a class. I had been collecting earrings for ages, so when I saw a class on offer over the summer at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, I decided to try making jewellery, and it stuck.
 
Have you found it difficult to start your own business?  Was there anywhere you went for help?
I have thankfully found excellent guidance through the University of Edinburgh’s Launch.ed programme.  I work with a business advisor who finds excellent opportunities for me and I can ask anything pertaining to my business. I have also found some great opportunities and workshops with Creative Scotland and the Cultural Enterprise Office.
 
Do you make your own jewellery?
I make all of my designs by hand. I am currently an Artist in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art, which is a great opportunity to get some teaching experience under my belt and it comes with access to the extensive facilities in the department. Like many creatives though, my bench is an absolute mess no matter where it is.
[That’s fantastic news, as someone who is completely daunted by the thought of having to teach anyone anything it’s really inspiring that you’re taking the opportunity to pass on to a new collection of future creatives, but it must make you extremely busy!]
  
 
Who are your influences?
 
William Morris has always influenced me in some way. Whether through his writings or his designs, his life forms a large part of my philosophy toward designing and creating. My advisor at Skidmore College, David Peterson, has influenced me greatly and I often ask myself what would David say about this?
But my most important influence is my parents.  Through my upbringing I have been taught to appreciate art but also to be well-rounded and rational, and I could never have gotten to where I am without their support.
[That’s a really nice thing to say – I am sure your parents are very proud of what you have achieved.]
 
What inspires you?
 
Stories. Books. Like Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, I read too much. But I think that experience lends a kind of significance to everyday scenes. Classical music is essential for that as well. There is nothing like a bit of Beethoven to make a situation seem more important. But hopefully what really comes out in my jewellery is that Scotland is incredibly inspirational. Take a good book and a few great classical recordings out to the Scottish islands and I am a very happy, inspired lady.
[I’m a massive reader too – I don’t think it’s possible to read too much!  Not a massive classical music fan though…maybe that’s why I’m not very creative!]
 
What sort of jewellery do you like to wear?
 
Rings. I find them strangely empowering.
 
What’s your favourite gemstone?
 
Citrine.
 
What are your aspirations for the future?
To continue to love what I do.
[Very wise words.]
 
Where did you train and how did you find the training process?
 
I did my Bachelor’s at Skidmore College in New York and my Master’s at Edinburgh College of Art. I enjoyed the diversity in the teaching between the two programmes. They provided different aspects to my training. I have tried as
much as possible during my education to get as much experience from as many teachers as possible in as many studios as I could, abroad and at home. I think that the most important part to any training process is that you put
your all in and take away as much as you can. Students should be as responsible or more than their teachers for their own learning.
 
Tell us about your connection with New Designers
 
New Designers was simply what everyone did after their degree at ECA. I never really thought about not going. Now that I have experienced it I value the platform it has created in my field, there is nothing I know of quite like it in the United States. It was a great chance to meet my peers across the UK as well as galleries and companies and people who could represent me and push me forward. I was presented with the New Designers’ Goldsmiths’ Company Jewellery award in 2014 which has helped my confidence and has pushed me into the business more thoroughly than I could have achieved without it. The main prize was a week’s work experience with Paul York at the Goldsmiths’ Centre which I did back in September. I was lucky to get to work with Paul, he is incredibly knowledgeable at what he
does and I learned so much from him.
 
What do you like to do when you’re not doing this?
 
Read, drink tea, go for walks in the rain, sing, play and listen to music, and most of all I love to solve puzzles of all kinds.
 
White gold or yellow gold…or something else?
 
Titanium. It is wonderful to work with in every way. Its combination of properties creates a very challenging and unique material. I am not one to turn down a challenge, particularly when beautiful things come out of it. Although as far as gold goes: yellow gold. It has an unparalleled warmth, and is absolutely amazing to work with, there is nothing quite like gold.
 
[I’m so glad you said Titanium!  It really does add something extra special to see jewellery in this unusual metal, I think it adds something different in particular because of its weight, what you get when you pick it up is different from what you perhaps expected.]

 

K Donavan chain 1

 

 

STOP PRESS:  We’ve just found out that Karen is adding even more to her collection of awards!  We’re delighted to hear that Karen has recently been awarded the Goldsmiths Craft & Design Council Gold Award Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers Award 2015!  Also a Commendation in the Precious Metals, Gold, Platinum and Palladium category – what great news and many many congratulations to Karen on very well deserved recognition.

 

Thank you to Karen for coming through the loupe with us – you can find Karen on lots of social media outlets including Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter (and don’t forget to join us on all of those too!)

 

24 carat question…?

We’ve looked at different materials for making jewellery but now let’s tackle the classic!

By gold we’re talking here about the genuine article, not gold coloured metal, but the element itself.  Whilst we think about gold as being a durable material which will last hundreds of years (think Staffordshire Hoard perhaps) it is a dense but soft and ductile metal, which means that while the metal itself may last it is likely to have much fine detail worn off over time if exposed to harsh conditions.  It is an excellent metal for jewellery making because of these properties though, and even more so because it does not tarnish in air or water, so will retain its lustre, and is not very chemically reactive.

 

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

 

Gold is generally mined from the earth, most commonly as gold nuggets, but also within rocks in veins and alluvial deposits.  It an also be found as a compound with other elements but this is less common.  Although it is not very reactive it does react with some elements and compounds, and the term “acid test” arises from using nitric acid to test for gold as it can dissolve base metals and silver but not gold.

Gold is of course not only used in jewellery (although nearly 50% of all gold mined is used for jewellery), it has been used in coinage and it’s understood that today around 10% of gold is used in industry and according to the World Gold Council  nearly 175,100 tonnes of gold have been mined and this would fit into 21 cubic meters if it was all put together!  But it is known to have been used in jewellery making for around 7000 years – unbelievable!!!  It’s as popular as ever for jewellery making and 2013 saw the largest volume increase in jewellery demand for 16 years.  (There are lots of interesting facts on the gold.org website if you fancy some gold trivia).

 

DSCN0370

 

Now as you will know gold isn’t always ‘gold’.  While yellow gold remains ever popular, white gold has massively captured imaginations with ever increasing in popularity, and rose gold sets off certain skin tones and gemstones beautifully.

Yellow gold is still the most popular colour, but today gold is available in a diverse palette. The process of alloying—mixing other metals with pure 24 carat gold—gives malleable gold more durability, but can also be used to change its colour.  All gold essentially starts out as yellow gold, different colours are created by allowing the metal with white metals.  White gold is then usually plated with rhodium to create the shine and appearance we are used to.  For those not familiar with white gold (…are you out there?!) be warned that this plating WILL need renewing, the regularity of this depends upon the quality of the plating and the amount you wear the item (i.e. white gold engagement ring worn all the time will need re-plating more frequently than a rarely worn pendant.

 

Gold rings

 

The soft warm colour of rose gold is created with the use of copper, you can find out the technical composition of different golds in a variety places but you may want to start here.  There are other colours of gold created through addition of other alloys or through coatings to the surface of the gold, these are fairly rare in the UK and require a little extra care so do look at particular instructions when purchasing anything unusual and be wary of fakes!

We’ve all heard of carats and you may be familiar with the use of this as a measure for gold and gems, in gold the purity of the metal is measured in carats rather than its weight (which is measured in troy ounces).  The measure of the carat is how much pure gold is alloyed with other metals.  The purest gold is 24 carat and this means that there are no other metals mixed in with the gold, lower carats (eg 18 or 9 carats) contain less gold and a combination of other elements.  In the UK 9 carat is the minimum, and whilst this is the least valuable as it effectively contains the least gold, it does have some advantages as it is harder and therefore more durable, whilst this makes it slightly harder to work with in terms of jewellery making it does mean it can take a bit more rough and tumble.

 

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What do we like…?

Well we all tend to have a favourite item of jewellery, many designers work with gold but here are a couple of our favourite items from around the web:

I love this intricate but chunky ring from Lavan Jewellery (handmade in the UK) and even better they do a massive variety of sizes.

Beautiful 9ct gold pebble necklet from Sheila Fleet, I love the tactile and texture achieved in this look.  If you’re interested in jewellery influenced by nature do check out some of Sheila Fleet’s other designs, I really like the Rowan collection with subtle use of gems.

Striking Hemisphere earrings from Susi Hines, this unusual design is really eye-catching, and of course we love a bit of bling 😉