WHAT IS GRANULATION?
Granulation is an ancient art which can be traced back as far as the third millennium B.C. Used by the Egyptians and mastered by the Etruscans, it is the process of ornately decorating jewelry with patterns of tiny gold or silver balls called granules. In the finest examples, the granules, although permanently attached to the piece through the process of fusing, will appear to be merely resting on the surface. Because each granule needs to be individually placed and positioned on the surface, jewelry created using this technique can be very time intensive; taking tens to hundreds of hours to create a single piece depending on its complexity.
To see how a piece of granulated jewelry is created, follow this link: The Art of Granulation
WHAT IS 18K TREASURE GOLD?
Classical Collection pieces can be made with this special alloy that contains authentic sunken treasure! In 1622, a treasure galleon named the Neustra Señora de Atocha was sunk during a hurricane off Key West, Florida while carrying silver, gold, emeralds, and copper to Spain. After a 16 year search, the ship was finally discovered in 1985. The find, estimated at over $400 million, included nearly 1000 silver bars weighing on average 60lbs each.
The 18K Treasure Gold contains 75% fine gold and 25% silver and copper in a specific ratio. Having obtained both silver and copper from the Atocha, this alloy is made using these metals resulting in 18K gold that is crafted from actual SUNKEN TREASURE! Pieces fashioned from this special alloy may be contemporary, but they are created with real treasure in their DNA. The mark above is hallmarked on pieces made predominantly with 18K Treasure Gold.
WHAT IS STERLING FATHOMS SILVER?
Since the Marianas Collection is inspired by the abyss, it is only fitting that some pieces be created with a special sterling silver alloy made with silver recovered from the deepest wreck ever salvaged. Recovered from a depth of 15,400ft (a half-mile deeper than the Titanic!), the silver was found on ship named the S.S. Gairsoppa which was sunk during WWII by a German U-Boat off the coast of Ireland in 1941. While perhaps not as mysterious and romantic as the Atocha, the silver for the Sterling Fathoms Silver has spent the last 75+ years sitting nearly 3 miles below the surface on the Abyssal Plain of the Atlantic Ocean. What better sterling silver could there be for jewelry inspired by the abyss? The mark above is hallmarked on pieces made predominantly with Sterling Fathoms Silver.
ABOUT MY QUALITY
I pride myself on being able to offer fine-quality, handcrafted jewelry using better materials and finer techniques than are typically found at or near my price points. So what are some of the details that set my work apart?
- Knowing when a part should be fabricated vs. cast. With the advent of CAD/CAM manufacturing, there has been an explosion in cast jewelry simply because it’s cheaper and easier to produce. The problem though is that casting yields poorer-quality metal than fabrication. If you want to create quality jewelry, this knowledge is critical for delicate areas or areas that will receive higher stress loads and/or wear. This isn’t to say that casting is bad though. It has its place and is completely fine when the design takes its limitations into consideration. Unfortunately, finding a jewelry designer that knows and understands this is an increasingly difficult thing.
Understanding which gemstones are/aren’t suited for various types of jewelry seems to be underestimated skill these days. While it’s tempting to want to put vibrantly-colored, inexpensive gemstones such as apatite into rings, the reality is that rings take a lot of abuse. Those gemstones (and others) are far better suited for earrings and pendants that won’t likely see any direct wear. Unfortunately, increasingly fewer designers take a gemstone’s hardness and durability into consideration resulting in a lot of good-looking, inexpensive jewelry that will be very prone to premature wear or flatout breaking.
The little touches. Sometimes it’s the subtle things that truly distinguish one quality of jewelry from another. For instance, when it comes to fabrication, I usually forge the ingots of silver and gold down before rolling it into sheet and wire. This commonly overlooked step results in a better crystalline structure in the metal…but it takes extra time and most jewelers skip this process. Other examples would be that I take care to bright-cut the inside of every gemstone bezel with a graver to give it a polished, finished look rather than the common rough edge usually presented. Other uncommon touches can include azuring the backside of exposed settings to create a pleasing appearance and reduce the overall weight in my higher-end pieces.
While it is difficult to list the myriad of differences that set my work apart and this is just a small sampling, the main take away is that I make an concerted effort to give people a level of quality that is not found in my price ranges anywhere else…both in terms of the quality of work and the quality of the materials I use.
HOW SHOULD I CARE FOR MY ERICH CHRISTOPHER DESIGNS PIECE?
I recommend taking your jewelry to a fine jewelry store for cleaning. However, to keep your jewelry looking as nice as possible, here are some tips:
- If your jewelry becomes dirty, wash it gently under warm-water with mild dish soap and an extra-soft toothbrush. Dry the jewelry using only a clean 100% cotton cloth. Other fabrics and materials can scratch your jewelry. Do not use anything other than mild dish soap on your piece as chemicals in household cleaners can damage stones or the surface of the metal.
- Remove any jewelry before showering, applying any lotions/perfume/hair products etc., or before doing any rough work/activity.
- NEVER wear jewelry in a pool or a hot tub as the chlorine in these can adversely affect the gold and the heat could potentially damage the stones. (This also applies while using any household cleaning products).
- Do not use home ultrasonic cleaners as these can severely damage your jewelry by fracturing stones or loosening the settings. Ultrasonic cleaning should only be done by a knowledgeable jeweler.
CAN I SPECIAL ORDER ONE OF YOUR DESIGNS WITH A DIFFERENT GEMSTONE(S)?
Yes, I am happy to create most of my designs as a special order with any gemstone or gemstones you may want in them. Please note that it may take 3-4 weeks to complete your special order and will require a 50% non-refundable deposit for the creation of your piece. Prices for special order pieces are usually more than the original product's price depending on the gemstones requested due to the nature of creating only one of a specific design for a custom stone request and are non-returnable.
HOW DOES THE STERLING SILVER IN THE MARIANAS COLLECTION GET ITS APPEARANCE?
The sterling silver has been treated to patina the surface of the silver with a layer of oxidation. It is a fairly durable patina, but will wear over time. This is particularly true for rings which receive a large amount of wear and tear. Most owners seem to enjoy the way that their piece wears to create a unique, and consequently, very personal piece of jewelry. However, if at anytime you would like to have the patina reapplied to your jewelry, we are more than happy to do that for free. If you are not local, we just request a nominal $15 fee to cover the return shipping/handling/insurance costs.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CLASSICAL AND MARIANAS COLLECTIONS?
The Classical Collection exemplifies the ultimate beauty and ancient elegance of granulation. Each piece in the Classical Collection is created in high-karat gold and set with premium-quality, hand-selected gemstones echoing the opulence of antiquity for those seeking their own piece of contemporary treasure.
The Marianas Collection is comprised of pieces created in 18K yellow & white gold and oxidized sterling silver inspired by the abyss. Dazzling gemstones twinkle against the darkened silver just as bioluminescent life such as jellies and plankton create small bursts of light against the darkness of the ocean’s depths. Some pieces have texturing in the form of little lines that imitate the combs of the comb-jelly whereas others have been done in patterns reminiscent of the effect created by light rays dancing in the water. The contrast of patinated sterling silver with 18 karat gold combine to create uniquely contemporary jewelry suited for casual wear, business, or a night out on the town. Each piece in the Marianas Collection is granulated by hand and is set with hand-selected gemstones from around the world.