Orsolya Ráski Nagy and Daniel Nagy
By Shawna Kulpa
So much of jewelry relates to love. It’s picked out and given as a sign of love. It’s made by jewelers who love their craft. And sometimes it’s even made by jewelers who not only love their craft, but also each other.
At least that’s the case with Orsolya Ráski Nagy and Daniel Nagy of Splendor Jewellery in Budakeszi, Hungary. They first met 20 years ago while attending the same jewelry school. Orsolya was studying goldsmithing and the art of making wearable jewelry. Daniel was pursuing silversmithing, with a focus on making large, ornamental objects. Love soon blossomed. After graduating, they began their careers in the industry doing repairs for a local jewelry manufacturer.
After two years they decided to launch their own business together, but they weren’t content with just relying on the skills they had already learned. They spent their free time continuing to learn and develop, taking courses in stone setting, engraving, chasing, blacksmithing, CAD/CAM, and more. Both Orsolya and Daniel share a love of learning, and they’re always ready to pick up new skills that will help them fulfill the motto they’ve adopted for their business: Valuables that last.
In addition to that love of learning, they love a challenge, which is where the story behind their Vision Award–winning Garden Ring picks up.
“Everything started with an old retired man,” says Daniel. “He used to be a London-based gemstone collector who was born in Hungary and came home to spend his retired years where he grew up. He found us and asked us to create really unique jewelry pieces for the rest of his large gemstones. He gave us this big box of stones and let us design anything we wanted.”
With such an opportunity, they knew they wanted to push themselves to take things further with every new piece they created. “We wanted to apply some really extraordinary shapes and setting techniques,” says Daniel.
One of the gems in the box, a large green prasiolite, inspired the design for their award-winning ring. They envisioned the stone sitting in the center of the ring like a massive garden, surrounded by small diamonds and colorful gemstones that would symbolize garden fruits and the dewdrops that adorn them. “We saw the ring having a tangled, jungle-like effect while retaining balance and harmony,” he says.
With an idea in mind, Orsolya got to work making sketches. Once the basic idea for the piece was crystallized, she took her design to CAD to refine the shape, determining the best proportions to create that desired harmony. She then imported images of the stone into CAD to help guarantee a perfect fit in the final piece. “It was a challenge because of the stone’s shape and the way the metal parts twist and turn around it,” says Daniel.
After much experimenting and tweaking, they got hit with a bombshell. They had asked the gentleman who had given them the gemstones to provide them with certifications. “We got the sad news that the stone was a synthetic,” he says. “We wanted to enrich our stock with large cocktail rings like this, but the stone was not acceptable for this project.”
They contacted their gemstone dealer about a replacement stone. They were able to source a natural prasiolite similar in size, and gave it to their gem cutter to modify. While they could have had the new stone cut to exactly match the size and shape of the original stone, they decided to make a few changes. “Once we have the opportunity to do something better, we try to do it best,” says Daniel. “So she cut the stone using the best proportions to make it as sparkling as possible, which changed the shape of the stone slightly.”
The new stone had a more curved shape to it. As a result, Daniel and Orsolya had to make a few modifications to the height and width of the setting. They adjusted the design in CAD, printing many preliminary models to test the fit against the new stone. When they were happy with the fit, they printed a final version of the parts, opting to cast only the base, shank, and four corner prongs of the ring. They decided to hand fabricate the small bezels and mini-prongs that branch off from the main prongs. “Once we could see where we would place them, it was easy to make them by hand in just the right thickness and shape,” Daniel says.
Despite the hiccups, the Nagys are quite happy with the final piece. “We love taking part in challenges to try our ideas and visions,” says Daniel. “Then we sit down and start thinking about the best way to build the piece. We are thinking in a very creative way by the rules of a very complex board game. It’s one of the reasons we love our profession.” And there’s that word again…