By Tina Snyder
A former surgeon, Garen Garibian of Los Angeles has a keen understanding of the role patience plays in successful results. “Making jewelry is a lot like surgery,” he says. “Both require a lot of patience.”
It took approximately two years for Garibian to craft his award-winning ring, “The Queen.” He worked on the passion project between his custom jewelry commissions, stepping away at times to let the design germinate.
The inspiration for the piece started with an 18 mm pink freshwater pearl Garibian picked up at The JCK Show in 2013. “Pearls are the queen of all gemstones, so I wanted to present this beautiful pearl in a piece suitable for royalty,” he says.
Envisioning a throne for the pearl, Garibian began by sketching a statement ring, which took on a floral shape. The central component for the ring, which would act as the setting for the pearl, initially featured eight petals in the back that would hold 5.6 mm pinkish white Japanese Akoya pearls, and five petals in the front that would hold 8 mm by 4 mm pear-shaped moonstones. The shank of the ring comprised two separate components that would crisscross at the base, enabling the ring to stand on its own. The two shank sections feature five and seven petals, respectively, that would be gem-set.
After rendering the piece, Garibian carved it in wax to see how it felt on the hand. He originally carved eight petals in the back of the setting and five petals in the front of the setting, but the balance felt off. He eliminated one of the pearl petals and re-carved the setting with seven.
Once satisfied with the prototype design, he moved the project over to CAD to begin crafting the actual piece. “This piece is all about symmetry, so I knew I needed to use CAD to bring it to life as accurately as possible,” he says.
Garibian designed and printed the ring in three parts: The two components that make up the shank and outer petals were then cast in 18k rose gold, and the central component that surrounds the pearl and acts as the setting was then cast in 18k white gold.
After cleaning up the castings, Garibian used different techniques to polish the ring and access the small hard-to-reach areas. A combination of machine polishing, tumbling, and hand polishing with ropes, wires, and tiny sandpaper was necessary to achieve the desired finish.
Garibian then began the surgical process of setting the gemstones. Pink sapphires in varying hues line the petals on the two rose gold sections of the shank. The sapphires graduate from light pink to dark pink then back to light pink on each petal. Four 0.15 carat pear-shaped diamonds are set within the petals on the front of the shank.
The white gold setting for the main pearl features micropavé machine-cut melee blue sapphires in varying hues, as well as diamonds of the same size. He graduated the color transition on the petals holding the Akoya pearls from dark blue beneath the center pearl to white diamond. The five petals at the front of the setting are all diamond set, and the 0.5 carat pear-shaped moonstones are set atop a purple-blue enamel to pop their color.
To assemble the ring, Garibian laser welded the two rose gold components of the shank together first, on the sides where the pearl setting will sit, as well as at the point they cross each other at the base. He then welded the white gold setting to the shank.
Last, he inserted the threaded post through the bottom of the entire assembly and welded it in place. The center pearl was drilled and screwed onto the post, enabling it to be removed if necessary for repair or cleaning.
Sitting atop its throne, the pretty pearl is a precious reminder of the proverb: Patience is a virtue.