I don’t usually design things that are representational, but with the blue sapphires matching the color of Tim’s uniform, I felt moved to design a piece that was symbolic of who Tim was and of the career for which he had such passion. I started researching antique policeman whistles, and I was amazed at how decorative they once were. They had engraving, gemstones, and all sorts of details. Although I originally toyed with the idea of creating a longer style whistle, I settled on creating a more traditional model, which would give me a good amount of space to lay out the sapphires.
I liked the ideas of the sapphires representing the three most important men in Jenny’s life: Tim and their two sons. I placed the largest sapphire on the top by itself, with the two smaller sapphires on either side of the whistle. I wanted Jenny to feel like she had all her family together in one piece.
I’m a clay artist so when I design settings in CAD, I print the model and then add clay to the areas surrounding the settings. I like having a natural texture surrounding the stones, and it’s not something that can be duplicated with etching or engraving. And, for a family that loves getting out in the world, it seemed a natural fit.
Beyond the police symbolism of the whistle, I wanted this piece to be something that Jenny could always wear close to her heart. I also felt that it represents the idea of safety, especially for an active family that likes to get out in the wilderness. Creating a piece that gave Jenny a feeling of safety was important to me.
I designed the whistle in yellow gold because it’s a warm, rich metal. It also mimics the brass often used in the buttons of policemen’s uniforms. The brass of the gold and the blue of the sapphire just created a cohesive look that seems to match the regal look of a uniform. A diamond-accented bail adds a little sparkle to the piece.
Susan Wheeler is the owner of Susan Wheeler Design in Chicago.