How to catch a star
Marilyn Monroe had it right in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes when she saw a tiara and chirped: ‘I just love finding new places to wear diamonds!”
Seven years ago jewellery designers Philippa Green and Ida Elsje collaborated with architect and diamantaire (isn’t that a lovely word?) Gregory Katz to create Situ—an innovative range of diamonds suspended in epoxy resin. They won’t reveal exactly how they do it but the concept is literally brilliant, liberating precious facets from the fixed grasp of traditional metal claws or prongs.
Until recently Situ has emphasised its high-tech origins, producing pieces that are modern, largely geometric or symmetrical—solitaires hovering in perfect circles or squares of plastic. But this month, Elsje introduced something different—her signature organically inspired metalwork with an ‘imperfectly” placed perfect gem. The end product is called the Rococo, a ring of startling beauty—gold filigree encased in clear resin, with a diamond winking off-centre. It is bold, outsized and very light.
The metal design was sketched by Elsje and then cut out by hand, using a jeweller’s saw. As with everything in the studio there is an emphasis on the handmade product and design, right from smelting the metal.
Elsje then folded the gold sheet and placed it in a mould into which resin was poured. The diamond was inserted into the resin, which took a few days to set. When it was hard enough, it was filed (by hand) into shape. It took two to three days, starting with the hole for the finger (it is made to an average woman’s size—M—but can be made up to three sizes larger) and finishing with the facets. A thin thread of gold—the edge of the filigree plate—was exposed during filing and curves its way around the ring’s outer edge, the texture of metal contrasting with the smoothness of the setting.
‘The ring was supposed to be rounded, but when we placed the diamond the resin distorted it,” Elsje said. The resin allows the diamond to be seen from all sides (and keeps the gem perfectly safe), magnifies it and changes how it is seen. ‘The facet on top was not planned, it was unexpected,” Elsje said. ‘The diamond dictated the final shape of the ring because we threw it all in organically.”
Elsje plans to do a collection of pendants and earrings, inspired by the piece, including smaller versions in silver—all with floating diamonds.
Ida Elsje and Philippa Green can be found working at their studio-shop, Olive Green Cat, 76 Church Street, Cape Town, or visit www.olivegreencat.com, www.idaelsje.com or www.situ.co.za. Other new work by Elsje is also featured in the Carla Antoni collection launched this week—see www.carlaantoni.com