Zena Haddad design story: emerald and quartz ring

Posted on the 22nd March 2018

Zena Haddad design story: emerald and quartz ring

What was your initial idea? What inspired you?

I am deeply obsessed with all things glass and crystal but I also have a weakness for strong colour, contrast and numbers.  My design for the ring encapsulates all that I am passionate about in jewellery and life in general. 

I like strong and simple lines and I love the aesthetic of the Art Deco period which definitely influenced my choice of design. I also wanted the ring to have a futuristic ‘Blade Runner’ feel to it as a contrast. 

I am also a confused minimalist in that I aspire to be one, but cannot seem to shake my maximalist tendencies. I think the ring deals well with that through being transparent. 

The ring's characteristics hold many magical properties for me, from the benefits of wearing rock crystal on your person to the numbers represented in the piece. The number 8 is both important and lucky for me so I chose an octagonal shaped shank.  It’s also the symbol we use for infinity and represents everything good in the universe which is infinite. It is also the number for renewal which I thought apt considering I was embarking on this new career, having made the decision to leave practicing law. 

I knew my first ring had to house my favourite gem and gemstone cut: an emerald cut emerald! 

Cutting and polishing a precise space for the emerald to sit in is no easy task; I like to provide a challenge for Jan! 

Why did you choose Holts Gems?

I perfected the design within the first month of my gemmology course. As soon as I'd learnt the properties of quartz I was ready to go. All I needed now was someone to cut the crystal for me: a skilled lapidary.  This proved harder than I thought and my search took me from elusive retired geniuses, to the internet, to the Middle East and back. I felt like Indiana Jones looking for the Holy Grail! Little did I know that nestled in the basement of the Holts Gems [Holts] shop was exactly what I was searching for, right on my door step.  I had no idea they offered a lapidary service.

I would walk past Holts on my way to school two nights a week as I walked down Hatton Garden to get to Ely place.  One day when my other lapidary had fallen through I walked in where I met Mena on the shop floor. I explained what I was looking for and with a reassuring smile, (he could probably sense my panic) he said he had just the man for me and asked me to return with my drawings. 

I met Jan and the rest is history.

So, what happened next? 

I returned with my tracing paper drawings and rough sketches. Jan looked at them, said he could do it but would need the cad drawings. I went away got that ready and printed a 3d resin version to show him. I had originally wanted a step on the outside shank of the ring as you can see on the resin print but Jan said that wouldn’t work. We went through various alternatives and then settled on the bevelled edges to protect the ring.  I then chose my crystal. I was absolutely firm in my mind what I was looking for – totally flawless rock crystal.   I wanted that contrast between the clean, clear body of the crystal and the inclusions in the emerald. Visually I appreciated the contrast between the very fragile looking crystal and its tougher properties which were essentially protecting the extra fragile emerald.

It was a lot of fun working with Jan. He is very knowledgeable and quickly comes up with solutions. He was very good and quick in gaining a precise understanding of what I wanted and then saying ‘yes that's possible’ or ‘no that's not possible’.  I appreciated the straight forward honesty and knowledge.

I came in a couple of times during the process if we had to make a decision on something or to fit the collet. Jan would send me pictures otherwise to keep me updated. Jan had a strong understanding of what I wanted immediately and so I felt confident leaving my first project with him.  We had a few adjustments on the stepped shank along the way and two collets made but other than that the process was extra smooth!  

 

Did you ring turn out as you wanted it to? 

Whilst waiting for the ring to be ready I was extremely nervous. The anticipation was going to kill me….But thanks to Jan, my initial idea was exactly how it turned out as Jan's meticulous lapidary work was spot on. 

On first view of the final version of my ring, Jan's craftsmanship took my breath away. He had created what I had had in my minds eye for so long. It was even better than I expected. 

Jan and Mena were very precise in terms of cost and time so I really knew where I was with the timescale. If anything, I held Jan back with various collet designs before the right fit was made. I’m glad I took my time though as I am so pleased with how it turned out!

Did you enjoy the process, will you do it again?

I absolutely loved the process and we are already doing it again! Jan and I are about to start working on a new design to set a gorgeous 8ct pear shaped diamond. The design this time is less angular and geometric and more rounded and I will be choosing a different quartz for Jan to fashion. I'm extremely excited. 

Jan is also currently working on an order for me, creating the octagonal ‘OnTheRocks’, to re-house one of my client's emerald cabochons. 

There's been quite a bit of interest in the ring through social media since winning Silver at the GCDC (Goldsmiths Craft and Design Council) Awards, which is fantastic. It means that my design and Jans craftsmanship has received one of the highest accolades in the jewellery industry. My ring was judged against talent from all over the world by industry specialists and craftsmen/women!

Thinking about it, we actually haven't stopped since we started! Jan has also created another two rings for my first ‘OnTheRocks’ collection, both carved out of rock crystal. Both are as beautiful as the first. 

 I am thrilled to continue to be working with Holts on these designs for my first jewellery collection as a designer, as I love what Holts offers. They have a huge offering both for the public and to the jewellery industry, not to mention to aspiring apprentices. It is vital that these skills remain in operation and Holts ensure that is happening. Jewellery would be soulless without these handmade skills. A human eye can look at a piece as it is evolving and decide 'a fleck here, a mm off that corner would balance it' etc. This is something a computer cannot do. It results in a different feel to a piece when it's completed: you can see and feel the difference between a CAD item and a hand carved/made piece. 

In my new (1yr old) career as a jewellery designer, Holts has featured in quite a few of my high points so far. These include finding Holts, meeting Jan and Mena, the process of working on the ring and Jan submitting the ring into the GCDCA where we won Silver. All massive high points for me. Also, I am grateful for what I have learnt from both Mena and Jan through the course of making the rings with them. I am so looking forward to seeing more beautiful work from Jan and to continue working with the Holts team.