While engagements and weddings are occasions we traditionally link with jewellery purchases, at Neil Rayment Jewellery, we’re often commissioned to make pieces with less familiar motivations. Dr Mukherjee, a retired doctor and his wife, met with our master jeweller Neil over coffee and Welsh cakes to discuss a commission with homeopathic incentives. A believer in the healing properties of precious stones and metals, Dr Mukherjee asked Neil to create a ring using silver, South Sea pearl and natural sapphire. He also requested a design that allowed the stones to touch his skin when worn, to trigger their benefits. A jeweller with prestigious skills, a love of challenge, and a fascination for cultural history, Neil enthusiastically agreed to create the ring. He knew this would be a technical and delicate process, involving materials sourced from across the world.
There’s a lot of information to be found on the beliefs behind precious stones, from their ability to improve prosperity, to their effect on emotional stability. Indian cultures in particular, have studied gemstones for centuries. ‘Jyotisha’ refers to the ancient Indian system of astronomy and astrology, which is also known as Vedic Astrology by millions of practitioners worldwide.
Jyotisha is a form of astrology, where forecasting is based on a person’s genetic horoscope. Yellow sapphires are said to strengthen planet Jupiter in the chart of an individual, and since Jupiter is the planet of material prosperity and spiritual growth - many consider it of critical importance to their lives. Believers who suffer from depression, poverty, blood or immune disorders, respiratory ailments and liver problems credit yellow sapphire as potentially improving their problems.
Ayurveda, one of the world's oldest holistic or whole-body healing systems developed more than 3,000 years ago in India, refers to pearl powder as a digestion stimulant and treatment for mental ailments. Pearl is said to lessen stress and related illnesses such as hypertension, headaches, digestion and exhaustion, which in turn may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Here at Neil Rayment Jewellery, we usually work with platinum alongside exquisite gems, and many clients request this precious metal as they consider the future worth of their item. Investment was not a factor in Dr Mukherjee’s decision making however, he selected silver for his belief in its healing properties.
Silver’s association with anti-bacterial properties has long been established. The ancient Phoenicians knew enough to keep water, wine and vinegar in silver vessels to ensure freshness. It is only recently, however, that scientists have discovered silver interrupts the bacteria cell’s ability to form the chemical bonds essential to its survival. These bonds produce the cell’s physical structure so when bacteria meets silver it literally falls apart. For this reason, silver enforced bandages are especially in demand, and these anti-bacterial properties are perhaps one of the motivations for Dr Mukherjee’s choice.
Our master maker Neil put the call out to his trusted suppliers that he was looking for a seawater pearl and natural sapphire. The sapphire needed to be in its original shade of yellow, not heat-treated and with a smooth underside, so it wouldn’t cut or scratch Dr Mukherjee’s finger when worn. The seawater pearl needed to be a specific size. These were rare, international gems that you could not acquire with one phone call, or find in the diamond quarter of Antwerp, so Neil’s suppliers called their contacts, who called their suppliers, until this expert network tracked down the two gems and shipped them from Australia and expressed to Neil Rayment Jewellery in historic Cardiff Bay.
“It is pretty nerve-wracking using a silver sharpening tool next to a soft pearl that has taken 15 years to grow!”
This was a job that required very precise work, and even master jewellers feel nervous sometimes! As Dr Mukherjee wanted the pearl and sapphire to touch his skin, the gems needed to be supported, stable and revealed all at once. Neil is enthused by and determined to make projects work for his clients, relying on more than 25 years of hands-on experience and deep understanding of materials to help him work out new methods.
As you may have expected, Neil’s exacting skills and pedigree meant his shaping of the elegant silver ring was a success. The gems popped perfectly into the shank where they sat snugly, yet exposed in the right places.
Immersing himself into Dr Mukherjee’s ring commission and the research which went along with it, introduced Neil to a new world of fascinating design possibilities. He’s always collecting inspiration, and the cultural associations of stones in history sparked lots of new ideas. Master maker Neil regularly creates his own collections and pieces from the filing cabinets full of potential designs and concepts he stores in his mind. Perhaps in future we’ll see a range of Neil Rayment Jewellery informed by properties of precious stones? Watch this space.
To commission an exciting and unusual design that represents your beliefs or ideas, call Neil Rayment Jewellery for an informal chat on 029 2132 8114, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.