Monday, November 9, 2015

11.09.15 Shop local: Shaesby

Photo credit: Shaesby
I've been a fan of Shaesby Scott's beautiful diamond and gemstone jewelry since I first saw his Soleil stacking rings in Eliza Page a long time ago.  Since then I have been following the expansion of his jewelry line and the evolution of his work.

These days, I am completely smitten with his new Isla collection featuring oxidized silver, satin texturing and diamonds.  When I received an email that he would be doing a trunk show at Neiman Marcus, I put it on my calendar, thinking "attending a trunk show is work for a jewelry blogger, right?"

Photo credit: Shaesby
I'm so glad I did!  Not only did I get to see his gorgeous collection in person, but I had a chance to visit with him and his lovely and gracious staff - and the result was an opportunity to visit his  Austin jewelry studio plus a new custom piece for me!

After seeing the jewelry up close at the NM show, I realized what I really wanted was an all silver Isla pendant - with bright silver accents.  Michaele, Shaesby's sales director said "we can do that" and asked if I'd like to come by the studio to see the pendant in progress.  Would I ever!

So, I couple of weeks ago I spent a Friday morning in the studio with two of the wonderful bench jewelers - Travis and Carlos - who work with Shaesby to take these amazing pieces from concept to completion.  Not only was I impressed by their skill as jewelers, but also by the way they talk about the company and the work they do.

Both Travis and Carlos have been with Shaesby for over a decade; it's clear that they love their jobs, and you see that when you spend time watching them work.  When I arrived Travis was working on a pair of custom Isla earrings - the original pair was carved in wax, which was cast - in very much the same manner I made my first pendant - then a mold was created. Additional pieces are cast in the mold, and then each piece is finished and assembled by hand.

At  the next bench, Carlos was carving individual bezels for diamond slices out of wax.  After marveling at their mad wax skills,  Travis showed me his technique for bezel setting the 2mm diamonds that also go into the earrings (not any easy thing at all - I learned having set some tiny diamonds in my own pendant).  The entire process reminded me of ballet - true professionals make it look so easy - but after doing a very limited amount of bench work myself (or the case of ballet, watching my daughter for years) I knew there was nothing easy about it.  Bench jewelry is a complex art form - and you see it in the finished pieces.
Shaesbly slice earrings

When I arrived at the studio, the components of my necklace - pendant, bail and clasp - had already been cast and fabricated.  The next steps were to polish, oxidize and assemble them into a finished piece.

I watched Carlos finish the surface and edges of the pendant, preparing it for the oxidizing treatment - which transformed it from bright to dark - before setting the diamond in it. I love how the dark silver really makes the diamond pop!

Finishing the pendant involved creating and attaching the bezel, finishing the surface polishing and hanging on a lovely silver chain with a hand crafted clasp.

I'm beyond thrilled with my new necklace - and so excited to tell everyone the story behind it.  I encourage you - especially during the holidays, but any time you are looking for a special gift - to search out folks who take pride in their craft, and put their care and talent into every piece.

You can see and shop for Shaesby's pieces in Eliza Page, in the studio by appointment in Austin, or online. Tell them I sent you.

Until next time.

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