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The Art of Working with Ancient Fossils & Precious Metals

By William Henry January 7, 2020
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Jewelry making is a time-honored tradition that extends back millennia when ancient cultures would use organic materials to make religious and ornamental jewelry. Found materials such as bone, shells, and wood were sculpted and carved into spiritual and mythological shapes and figures, sometimes to ward off evil spirits.

Modern-day jewelry artists utilize more than just ordinary material to create remarkable pieces. Durable metal alloys and extremely rare fossil bones or teeth can be arduously and meticulously sculpted into striking pieces. These require special tools and hundreds of hours of precise and exacting handiwork. The final product evokes refinement and magic as ancient tradition dictates.

Inspired Designs

Before artisans sit down to perform their arduous tasks of shaping and sculpting precious materials, they must first draw from their inspiration to create stunning designs. Jewelry makers may develop a beautiful design on a piece of paper as a guide or directly on a metal surface, then lightly shape their material with a sharp point and work from there to create luxury jewelry for the modern man or woman.

Fossil Bone

Fossil bone allows jewelry wearers to connect with the past and look toward the future with a sustainable piece that can be passed down from generation to generation. Ancient jewelry makers would use a simple sharp edge of a stone to cut and hard rock to grind symbols into the jewelry.

Contemporary luxury jewelry made from fossil material showcases a dynamic contrast of up-to-date technology and rare exotic fossil material, the last legacy of legendary creatures that walked the earth at the dawn of mankind. Through it all, the intention and precision remain the same; a focus on sustainability and originality is crucial to making fossils a work of art.

Metal Engraving

Metal hand engraving is only undertaken by artisans with years of experience with this unique art practice. Engraving can be performed on soft metals such as gold or more durable metals such as titanium. Master engravers can take numerous metal alloys and carve a complex and intricate design using pinpoint hand movements and sharp engraving tools instead of using the impersonal laser engraving machines.

Metal jewelry engraving has become more accessible to artists not just to create family crests or coats of arms. Sharp engraving tools are hand pushed into metals to achieve the perfect cut and carving. Each piece will be a one-of-a-kind jewelry sign hand-engraving produces unique features that can’t be reproduced. In addition to creating remarkable images on metal, master engravers may incorporate gemstones and other inlays into their striking creations.

Metal engraving by hand takes a considerable amount of time compared to using a high-powered laser beam, especially if the material is rare and hard. Metal engravers require multiple rotary engraving tools to produce lines of different sizes. Additionally, engravers must also be careful to not damage precious metals during the painstaking process. The careful attention to detail produces a piece that will last a lifetime.

The Art of Working with Exotic Materials

Jewelry artisans are often adept at working with traditional metals, but sometimes, jewelers search far and wide for the next big material. New and exotic materials are more difficult to work with due to their rarity and untested production methods. For example, working with a hundred-million-year-old dinosaur bone requires sourcing the material first, which is an often overlooked aspect of the carving process.

Acquiring exotic materials is only one part of the equation. Over time, fossil dinosaur bone develops a petrified stone quality making it very hard to work with. Every aspect, from cutting the petrified bone to polishing it, poses new challenges for a craftsman who’s never worked with the material. The end result, when done well, produces a statement piece that brings new life into the wearer’s wardrobe.

Jewelry techniques and designs have changed over time. Ancient civilizations created jewelry to honor the gods and the wealthy. Today, jewelry made from precious material is accessible to the everyday wearer. Although they may not be fully aware of the time and effort that went into crafting a perfectly carved jewelry piece, the details speak for themselves.

Jewelry carving is a dying art form that only a refined class of artisans undertake. When laser engraving and software are easy to come by, the need for hand engravers is gone. Instead of relying on pre-made designs, consumers can opt for jewelry made with a human touch and premium and exotic materials. Jewelry sculpted from unique materials such as dinosaur fossils and precious metals can express originality and sophistication with small, but impactful details.

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