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Beyond Symmetry
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The client was quite tall and statuesque, with a love of large-sized jewelry pieces made with diamonds and pearls—in fact, she almost never wore colored stones. But one day, Helen Dym, a regular client of Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio confided to the Evanston, Illinois, designer that she wouldn’t mind using a stone other than diamonds this time around in a bracelet.

Happily, Alfillé had a large gemstone inventory and she looked through her drawer for something that would fit Dym’s style. She discovered a good-size amethyst, around 12-15 carats, that she wanted to use as the centerpiece, surrounded by diamonds, of a hinged reversible cuff bracelet and set in 18k white gold.

But while the stone was straight-sided and geometric, it was also asymmetrical, which would also be a bit outside of Dym’s comfort zone. “This is one client who adores symmetry,” says Alfillé, who points out that “one out of five clients just can’t abide asymmetry.” However, she had known Dym long enough to feel she could push the boundaries a bit, so she showed her the amethyst. “She was dubious, but she liked it and said okay.”

Alfillé decided to create a cuff because the other options, a bangle or link bracelet, wouldn’t work. “With a bangle, you can’t control which side is up,” she says. “And Helen didn’t want a link bracelet because she likes things to stay in place.”

The bracelet, explains Alfillé, was not designed and built using CAD. “My experience with CAD, which we did acquire about four years ago, was not a very happy one. There are so many imponderables, things you have not foreseen,” she says. “If I was a production jeweler, particularly one with geometric designs, I would stick it out and get good coaching, it would be worthwhile. But for someone like me who does mostly one-off designs, about 60 percent of which are rather organic, it does not pay.”

Instead, the bracelet was first hand-built from sterling sheet, using traditional cut, fit and solder assembly techniques, then cold-molded with epoxy resin to prevent shrinkage. After the piece was cast in 18k white gold, the customer was called in for a fitting.

Her favorite tool, Alfillé says, is her LaserStar laser welder. “It’s fabulous—not so much for large silver construction, since it’s only okay on silver work—and when it was time to add the hinge and clasp to the white gold bracelet, it was indispensable to tack each of the small pieces in place before actually soldering them.”

A dream, she says, would be to own a second similar, floor model LaserStar from Crafford, but they are hard to come by. “There are six goldsmiths having to wait their turn,” she says. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a second one? But I’m dreaming!”

As for the amethyst cuff bracelet, Alfillé was thrilled that Dym ended up happy with it—particularly with the stone, which was a color and shape that was out of character for her. “She made that leap, and she totally trusted me.”
— Sharon M. Goldman





Amethyst and diamond hinged cuff bracelet in 18k white gold
Amethyst and diamond hinged cuff bracelet in 18k white gold by Eve Alfillé of Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio, Evanston, Illinois.