A couple of days ago, I was sorting through some bronze masters (originals) of rings Ivaan had made. Many of them were vintage rings and some of them were quite spectacular. One in particular caught my eye. It had a large, unusually-shaped bezel on top. A bezel is a metal border that folds over very slightly to hold a stone in place. I was mystified by the shape of the bezel, and wondered if Ivaan had intended to have a stone cut to fit it. It didn't make much sense, but I set the ring aside, planning to do some research into stone cutting and polishing. Here are two photos of the ring, which appears to date from the late 1970s or early 1980s:
Yesterday, I was sorting through a bag of gemstones. The bag looked like it might have been recovered during a salvage operation on the Titanic; that's how bashed up it was. I had just finished sending an email to Ivaan's former partner, Tamas, who is extremely knowledgeable about gemstones, asking if he would help me figure out which (if any) of the stones were worth keeping, when I noticed an oddly-shaped crystalline stone shaped a bit like a kidney bean.
I've often marvelled at how many rings Ivaan had that required stones, and how many stones he had that didn't fit any of the aforementioned rings. If an oval stone is required, it has to be the exact shape and size. Rectangular stones are the worst to fit. I guess that's why they are usually in a claw setting. So I wasn't optimistic when I picked up this crystalline stone and went in search of the ring I'd found the day before. I'd be better off buying a lottery ticket than expecting a random stone to fit a particular ring. I popped the stone into the ring.
It fit like a glove. (You could see this coming, couldn't you?) For a few moments, I marvelled that Ivaan would have gone out of his way to have a stone cut to fit this ring. It didn't make sense. It wasn't a particularly exciting shape, and Ivaan was acutely sensitive to how things were shaped. Suddenly I had a revelation: Ivaan had acquired the stone first, and had made the ring to fit the stone. This, of course, doesn't explain why the ring has sat for 30 years in one plastic bag and the stone has sat for 30 years in another plastic bag, moved seven times from one studio to another, shared the same closet for the last two years and have never - until this weekend - been reunited. It's a bit like having been separated at birth from your twin, and eventually meeting as adults, only to find out you'd both gone to the same school.
I know what will happen next: I'll be leafing through one of Ivaan's journals and I'll find the original drawings for this ring. Ivaan's journals will be the subject of an upcoming post. They are so interesting: a combination of drawings, diary entries, clever ideas, phone numbers, random thoughts, plus descriptions of many of his techniques. So here's the ring: I think I might cast it in silver and set the stone in the silver version. Stand by for further developments.
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