Behind the Scenes: Making Modern Memorial Hair Jewelry

By Irina Jordan

Directly from the source: in this post Angela shares the story of why she started making the memorial hair jewelry and she also takes us behind the scenes to show what it takes to make it.

Angela started making the memorial hair jewelry because her friend suddenly lost her beloved dog and posted on Facebook that she had really liked the idea of having her dog's ashes pressed into a diamond. However, it was so expensive that she'd have to wait ten years to save the money to do so. Angela was a little nervous to offer but she sent her a message and offered to make her a ring with her friend's dog's hair under the stone and her friend loved the idea. Angela has always admired Victorian jewelry and she enjoyed making the ring for her friend and seeing how happy and comforted she was to have it, Angela decided to focus on this kind of jewelry.

She is always trying to incorporate new ways to use the hair and researching Victorian mourning symbolism when thinking of design ideas. She feels that it's very comforting for her clients to have a visceral reminder of those they have lost. Angela likes to think that she is helping them to find a little solace with what she does.

The first step in making a reliquary pendant is to make a bezel setting for the stone. Angela carefully measures bezel wire around the stone and then solders it together. After that, she hand cuts sheet metal into the shape of the stone and uses metal files to sand down the edges. She solders the bezel wire to the sheet metal to make the setting. After each piece is soldered, it must be placed in a chemical bath (pickle) to remove the solder marks and oxidization from the heat and then be cleaned with a soft brass brush.

After this main piece is made, Angela adds any other embellishments that need to go onto the design. If the design has oxidized details (blackened silver), she uses a chemical called liver of sulfur to oxidize the silver. Once the pendant is completely clean and smooth and polished, it is time to place the hair under the gem. Angela lays the hair pieces into the setting and puts the quartz gemstone over the top, the bezel must be a very tight fit to make sure that the hair stays in place. She then uses a tool called a bezel roller to fold the bezel over the edge of the gem, fixing both the hair and gem in place.