The Ascension Collection - Behind the Scenes of developing our Fine Gold and Silver jewelry collection
I remember being on a walk with my husband and dogs and I turned to him and said, "What if we did a Gold Collection?!" We both loved the idea, but also laughed it off as something far in the future, that was 2 years ago. A lot can happen in a year’s time and by the end of 2021, I just knew it was something I had to do and once I set my mind on something, it’s unlikely i'll let it go. In my family we call this "fixation station" ha-ha.
I used my "Winter break" this year to do two things, work on ideas for my Goddess Series and try to wrap my head around what the hell I was going to make in gold. At first, I thought I would work with a CAD artist as many fine jewelers do. A CAD person knows how to technically design a ring or any piece of jewelry using a computer program and can design really small, really detailed and it pops out ready for casting. I went with this method to design the 3rd ring for my wedding stack, and it was through that experience I learned... it just wasn't for me. It might sound weird, but I felt that by being able to control everything, and because of my lack of experience with this design approach, I was losing my design voice.
I went back to the drawing board quite literally. I spent so many nights sketching and trying to figure out how I could still create something true to myself and my brand, while also making it small enough to cast in 14K gold and be affordable. I was at a standstill, until I had a conversation with my friend Rebecca. What she said exactly, I can't remember, but it was something to the effect of "How do you convey the power of your silver jewelry, just in a smaller version?". Maybe it was the way she said it, or maybe it was just the little push I needed to get to that "aha moment". But right then, everything clicked into place, and I took templates for my larger rings and cut them into slices. Maybe you can't buy a giant ring all at once, but it's something you can build up to or mix and match to make your own stacks and I dived into designing. One thing being an artist has taught me is, when creativity is flowing, you better stop and pay attention. That's exactly what I did, I just jumped in, and I was in a zone! I designed two big stacking rings with 9 rings each, all able to be mixed in matched however you please... I was so happy!
How you make jewelry is as personal as food or comedy, how you approach design is based on technique and skills, but also very much personal preference. I developed my way of design over many years and it's something that is unique to our brand. So, for me design always starts with the waxes. For my one-of-a-kind pieces the waxes just go to cast and that's it. But with a collection the process Is much longer. We start with casting all of the waxes in brass, it cuts down on cost and the metal is slightly harder, so they are easy to finish.
Once we get the brass castings in, we must spend time meticulously cleaning them up and finishing them to be ready for molds. If there was ever a time in the process to be patient and pay attention to every detail, this Is it. Because once molded that's the piece you have, imperfections and all. You want it as close to "perfect" as possible and it cuts down on cleaning and finishing in the future.
Now that we had the brass pieces cleaned up, they were sent back to our casters for molding and for our first Sample castings. Even though I knew these would eventually be cast in Gold, I cast my first samples for polishing and stone setting in sterling silver. The reason I cast in silver is to cut down on any upfront costs as we are working through the process and so we can work through issues if there are any.
Now, while we are doing all of this casting and finishing and sample making, I’m also sourcing stones. For a collection it's very important to find a reliable stone cutter who can cut stones to specification repeatedly so that you don't have a disruption in your production. I used Columbia Gem House based in Vancouver, WA for this collection because they pride themselves on providing fair trade and sustainably sourced stones. Not to mention, I prefer working with small family run businesses. I also wanted to use stones that mirrored what I use with my silver pieces, but I had to make some tough decisions because of order minimums and this stuff ain't cheap! So our first featured stones will be Amethyst, Tourmalated Quartz, Chalcedony, Black Spinel and Ruby. I hope to bring some other one-of-a-kind options in the future and other options are available for custom orders, but these spoke to me most.
So next we receive all the pieces from the caster including all of our sterling silver and 14k Gold. The next step is to set all the stones for our samples that we need for our photoshoot and product photography. Setting the stones is one of my favorite parts of the entire process (except for designing... that's my favorite!) because that's when the pieces truly come alive. Not to mention we had to name the collection, which is not one of my favorite parts… final decisions are hard for me! But I want to thank my community and all of you for helping me figure this part out. After lots of though, we landed on ‘Ascension’, and I think it truly encapsulates what this collection represents to me in so many ways.
I had a photoshoot planned and everything came together beautifully. Elisabeth O’Rourke, who has done a ton of my photography was brought on to do the shoot and Lynsi Taylor, was our beautiful model. It’s important to me to feature all kinds of different women as a representation of my brand. That includes all sizes, shapes, and ethnicities. It had been a dream of mine to feature a Woman of color and specifically a Black woman in my jewelry and Lynsi was everything I could ask for. About to celebrate her 30th birthday, she was just exuding this power of coming into her own and I think we truly captured some magic that day.
The last piece of the puzzle in creating a collection is the product photography, the listings, and all the website work that needs to happen to make it all shoppable. This part of the process can be both fun and tedious. It requires a lot of attention to detail and back-end website work. I took the opportunity of the arrival of our ‘Ascension Collection’ to do some much needed website updates because it’s important to me to make the online shopping experience fluid, intuitive and easy for you. So, with the launch of Ascension comes a new and improved Acid Queen site that I hope you all love.
Our Ascension – Fine jewelry Collection will feature both 14K gold and sterling silver solid cast pieces, all handmade in small batches. It will be released on Sunday, July 24th, 2022. Our VIP Inner Circle email list will have first looks and first access to our newest pieces. Not on the list? Join Now!