Faberge and Reticlation

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reticulation is a three-dimensional texture on metal that can be described as dendritic or tree bark looking surface. It can be produced by heating up silver, gold or brass. The patterns can be somewhat controlled, though the technique itself is difficult to master. There are very few pieces of metal art that can be considered “fine”.

Different sources ascribe the technique to either Faberge or Scandinavian jewelers. Whether he invented or just developed it, he gave recognition to the reticulation starting from 1860. Most well known metal art pieces made in this technique are of Russian origin, mostly from the Faberge company.

Reticulation is known as “samorodok” which is a Russian name for it. You can find a translation to the word as “born by itself” (and that is true), but it is important to mention that the word refers to “nugget”. The wrinkled surface of metal looks like a nugget and this is why it has got that name.

A jeweler needs to have lots of experience to become very good at controlling the patterns. This is why it can be seen mostly in silver than gold. Though experienced jewelers can find a way to transfer a pretty pattern from silver to gold if they need to do so. Also, a special reticulation silver alloy gives better pronounced patterns than sterling silver.

Reticulation comes back in fashion from time to time. Nowadays, when organic shapes and forms are thought of, reticulation seems to be one of those surface embellishments that can give a modern look to a piece of jewelery.

Only a few years after school I tried this technique the first time, as it got me interested finally. I like the texture a lot as it really can change the look of an object and give it a visual dimension. A piece of jewelry made with it is truly eye-catching, especially if there are further embellishments taking place, such as stone setting and granulation. A course where I teach all the above has become one of my most favorite.

Natalia Khon

"Cut", "fire" and "luster" of a gem. What is it? (Part 2 of 5)

Beauty is another characteristic that affects a gem's price. You can see, that your favourite gem is beautiful. How can you describe it to others?

Beauty is a color, whether it is invigorating and warm color of a ruby or mysterious color of an emerald. A shape and a cut matters a lot too. They can show the beauty of a stone or kill it.

Only a professional gemologist can see if there is an interesting optical effect in the rough gem and choose the cut, that should be individual. Transparent stones mostly have faceted cuts, but if there is a "star" or a "cat's eye" effect then the stone must be cut as a cabochon.

How really beautiful is your stone? You need to know what to look at, so look at its lustre, brilliance and "fire".

Lustre is an optical effect produced by the light reflected from the surface of a mineral. Rays of light partially pass through a stone and they are partially reflected too. So, the brilliance depends on the internal nature of the stone on one hand and on the surface and the quality of its polish on another hand.

Look closely at your stone. How well is it polished? The surface should be smooth and shiny. If it is, you will be able to see the most brilliance and lustre that your stone can show.

Most transparent and translucent gems have brilliant (adamantine) and glass (vitreous) lustre. What lustre does your stone have? Does it have the same lustre as glass or is it much brighter, like a diamond?

Vitreous lustre is a characteristic of a quartz, sapphire or topaz.
Adamantine lustre is a characteristic of a diamond, zircon and demantoid (green garnet).
Resinous lustre is a lustre like that of a resin (examples: some garnets and amber).
Pearls and moonstone has pearly lustre.
Satin-spar has silky lustre.

If there is "fire" in a stone then it adds more beauty to it. Move your stone under the light. Do you see the sparkles of rainbow? Fire is especially important for the colourless stones. Usually the gems judged by the combination of lustre and "fire". A cut is chosen individually for each gem in order to enhance it. The most brilliant stones that have the best combination of both: diamonds, zircons, garnets almandine, rubies, sapphires, spinels and topazes.

Maria Roudakova
A jeweller from Switzerland
Jewelry Designer Blog. Jewelry by Natalia Khon. Design by Pocket