Mini, Christine, & A Look Inside the Industry
We decided to get a drink at a trailer park themed dive bar. In folding chairs over frozen margaritas, one of my best friends of the past 20 years told me about the love of his life and I told him about the 4Cs.
The illuminated pink flamingo over our table cast a glow of excitement over Mini (a nickname Sam acquired from me at the age of 10). This was better than take your child to work day! One of my best friends was learning about what I do and his enthusiasm was far from mini.
I decided I was going to show him my daily life in the industry, introducing him to the people who help me make beautiful things and, subsequently, this is what I am sharing with you today: The Making of the Future Mrs. Mini’s Ring.
Picking Out A Diamond
Purchasing a diamond is a nuanced interaction filled with industry jargon that is peppered with Yiddish and nonsense phrases. For example, an impossible combination of diamond factors--like a 2-carat, D-color, VS1 clarity for under $2,000 dollars--would be called “a four cornered egg”. That is my favorite one. I love me some four cornered eggs...
My diamond dealer’s office is one of my most intriguing, inspiring, and entertaining stops. Trays filled with certified post-consumer recycled diamonds in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and clarity are pulled, always eliciting very strong emotions from me:
Some of the diamonds make me laugh, like the dancing diamond with the ridiculous off-centered culet (facet at the tip of the diamond). Some diamonds have strong colors or peppers of inclusions that make the stone unique and beautiful, but also subject them to my “What Not To Wear”-esque critique. Others are cut with such artistry that the faceting patterns manipulate and reflect light in mesmerizing displays that make me sigh and smile. Diamond feelings <3.
Mini looked through an assortment of diamonds (while I provided a stream of commentary) and he made his selection: An Antique Cushion Cut Diamond with giant bites taken out of the corners of the stone that made it clear that the jeweler who removed the diamond from its previous setting used a garbage disposal to do so, rather than pliers. (Palm --> Face)
Though gnawed upon, the diamond Mini selected is a beautiful combination of cuts: The center of the stone is watery and temporal in how it reflects light, reminiscent of the romantic Victorian Rose Cuts. The edges of the stone, however, possess the brilliance and dispersion of an Old European Cut diamond that captures light, breaking it into its spectral colors. This is an incredibly unique, complex diamond with a face-up appearance that causes it to look a lot larger than it is, and a very low profile that allows it to remain understated, wearable, and timeless. Nonetheless, Mini picked "The Rehab Project".
Luckily, in the industry, we have magicians...
My diamond dealer saw the cringe and horror on my face. He heard me tell Mini to think about it overnight (sales code for: “Are you sure?!”). And when Mini gave his final decision that "The Rehab Project" was the one for him, my dealer brought me into the bowels of one of the most maze-like buildings in the New York Diamond District to fix it.
His diamond cutter is a small Orthodox Jewish man who threw his hands into the air when I entered, proclaiming “Religion!” into the space between us. After seeing what these hands can do, I would rather bow to them than shake them any day…
The cutter sat in a small room behind a steel polishing wheel, called a scaif, which is coated with a thin layer of diamond dust. Diamonds are the hardest material on the planet and only a diamond can cut another diamond. Almost like moving clay, the diamond can be coaxed into new positions, adding facets or pushing surfaces slightly in one direction or another to achieve a new form and shine.
With an expert touch, the diamond’s corners smoothed and, magically, "The Rehab Project" was reformed without losing any weight, giving the diamond new life.
The Rehab Project revitalized an antique diamond that was essentially destroyed. Mini saw the diamond in the roughest shape possible and saw it’s potential and unique character. Now, with the care and attention of this diamond wizard, the diamond carries new meaning and significance for another lifetime. I was (and am) truly amazed by how wonderful it turned out and am (now) thrilled with Mini's selection.
Mini and I started brainstorming the design when we first sat indoors beneath the umbrella with luau fringe, but the real designing began once the diamond was in hand.
All of Original Eve Designs are created using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programming, prototyped with Additive Manufacturing, and are finalized using traditional forms of studio craftsmanship. When designing in CAD, I can see an object from the top, front, side and in perspective. Any alteration made from any of these angles will affect the object in all of the other viewports as well.
This is a sketch of the design for the ring:
While we worked on the design, Mini’s sister-in-law-to-be went to jewelry stores in London to have her finger sized, allowing our project to remain a mystery to Mini’s fiancée while we crossed our fingers, hoping genetics meant that they had the same finger size…)
Once designed, I sent the ring file to my 3D printing tech, who produced the ring in a wax-like castable resin. The 3d printer works similarly to a laser printer: A computer tells a laser printer where to put ink on a page, going line by line. In 3d printing, instead of putting the ink on paper, the “ink” lies on top of itself to create a solid object, laying down one layer of material at a time, building up the piece like a topographic map.
Here is a picture of Mini’s ring in the 3D Printer:
After the ring was printed, it was cast in platinum in a process in which the wax object is “Sprued” onto a “tree” (which means they attach the ring with a stick of wax to a bunch of other wax pieces) and the whole tree is then put inside a “flask” (canister) into which “investment” (liquid plaster) is poured and cures. Then, the flask is placed inside a kiln to melt the wax, leaving negative space inside the canister in the shape of the objects.
Next, the super hot canister and plaster are put into a vacuum casting machine. Molten platinum is poured into the machine where the vacuum causes the platinum to fill the negative spaces left behind by the wax. The super hot canister is then quenched in water where the investment breaks apart, leaving behind the tree of platinum objects to be cut apart with sheers.
I explained this process to Mini via text and this was what I received in response:
Cleaning and Setting
In the final stage of making Mini’s Ring, the platinum setting was polished and the diamond set. Using a variety of tools to file, sand, and buff the metal, the ring came to life, glowing and lustrous. The diamond was placed in the setting and using brute force (Seriously: shaking hands with my jewelers can hurt), the platinum was persuaded and bent into the shape, holding the diamond evenly from all sides in a bezel.
A final polish and buff took out the mars made during the setting process, resulting in the finished ring for Mini’s Bride-To-Be:
The ring reflects the modern, clean, geometric aesthetic of Mini’s fiancée. Created in platinum with a bezel that is curved on the interior edge to follow the re-polished diamond’s form and chiseled to sculptural angles around the exterior, the antique cushion cut diamond of 0.83-carats takes on a timeless appeal. The low profile of the diamond allows for the stone to sit low on the hand, making the ring comfortable and understated, with two indented triangles on either side of the stone adding a geometric flourish, a nod to the triangular negative spaces under the diamond, and bit of texture to the otherwise seamless ring.
Throughout the process, my craftsmen were eager to model with the ring, showing off their impact on the process and take pictures of their tools and workshops. Even though we work together every day, I know that this ring meant more to them because it meant more to me. They each specialize in their portion of the trade and the skills required in their shops, but they do not get to know the people who gift and wear their work. I told them stories of our friendship and they got to know you too, Mini.
Mini Man Sam: Much has changed since we were 10-years-old (except for your fashion sense). I have always said that you are the funniest person I have ever met—Your humor is one that I wait for. It comes between the lines and each joke is enough to crack me up for days. This subtly is exactly what exists in how I see you love Christine.
When you get to talk about Christine in conversation, you smile, and I am pretty sure you don't realize you are doing it. A quiet confidence exudes from you in her presence and the purity of your connection is palpable in your subtle eye exchanges. It makes me so happy to see that she makes you so happy.
When we sat in the trailer park, you told me that you trust me more than the internet. I trust you more than the internet too, Mini. And I also trust (more than the internet) that this ring is the beginning of an amazing joined life with an incredible partner.
Thank you for inviting me into this moment and for letting me design something that I hope Christine will love. And thank you for letting me share my daily life and my talented jewelry family with you.
I could not be happier for you both! Congratulations.