Twinkle Twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are? Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky… What fascination a clear night sky can bring us! From time immemorial, mankind has wondered at the stars. We have given them meanings ranging from the power to depict our personal characteristics depending on what position they occupied when we were born, to predicting the future, representing angels, the spirit of Gods, lost loved ones and path-finders through the darkness.
Unsurprisingly, stars feature a lot in the world of jewellery. Jewels are also imbued with sentiment and meaning, they also can tell a story, endure through time, or be held as talismans and signs.
Ancient civilisations have used the stars, and the sun and moon too of course, as symbols. Byzantine and Greco-Roman coins featured crescent and star shapes on one side. Coins with different versions of crescent and star shapes were also present on coins during The Roman Empire. In the Ottoman Empire, the moon and star symbol represented the moon god and sun god. This led to their association with Islamic religion and today they are still present on Islamic flags.
The popularity of the use of symbols in jewellery is clearly seen in the Victorian age. Along with expressing their emotional sentiments through the use of symbolism, such as the language of flowers, the Victorians made use of celestial symbolism to depict wider ethereal qualities and meanings. Stars represented wisdom, direction and guidance. They were often combined with moons which symbolised femininity, love and spirituality. Towards the end of last year, I found myself surrounded by stars. Thankfully not from concussion when I shut the car tail-gate on my head, but stars from gold and sparkling diamonds!
First on the bench was a wonderful commission for the celebration of a wedding. I was commissioned to create two similar wedding rings for bride and groom from some 22ct gold which had been passed down through the family.
The couple wanted a design that was unique to them and a little bit different from the normal plain wedding ring. Being professionals in the worlds of science, technology and music, they were drawn to the mathematical shape of the mobius strip. As well as this interesting mathematical form, they shared a love of music and of the night sky. They settled on möbius strip wedding bands, with unique personalisation.
The möbius strip was named after August Möbius, born in 1790. He had a passion for astronomy and mathematics and spent a lifetime studying both. Möbius describes his discovery of a one-sided form that can be made in two or three dimensions.The symbolism of the ring appearing to have two sides but having in fact only one is perfect for representing a marriage of everlasting continuity and unity.
I created the rings from existing family gold, and once the ingot was poured, I was able to roll it out into a long flat strip. I then cut it into two, one for each wedding ring. To make each möbius strip ring, the flat gold is twisted though 180 degrees in the middle. I did this by holding the metal in two places, with flat pliers, with about 15mm in between. I then twisted the pliers to take the metal into a twist, leaving the ends flat and in line with each other again. The gold was then bent round to make a circle. The ends were welded together and the shape perfected so that it is even. For comfort and to give space for the pattern, I kept the twist tight and on the top of the ring.
The personalised decoration for the couple’s rings was a representation of a music phrase that was particularly significant to them. Rather than depicting musical notes on a stave (the five lines that musical notation is marked onto), we used a ‘code’ of different types of stars to represent the value (length) of notes we wanted. Their pitch was marked by their position in the ‘constellation’ as their musical note equivalent would have been on a stave. I engraved the tiny constellations each side of the twist. The stars varied from simple crosses, to 8-rayed forms that also varied in orientation to show different types of value.
This was written and published as part of the ‘Hidden Gems’ series of articles by Erica Sharpe for the Western Daily Press.