Monday, 19 March 2012

stone setting course

I have been using a limited amount of stones in my jewellery for some time now, but recently have felt that its about time that I start using such a fabulous resource some more. I really want to add more colour to my pieces and think that using gem stones would give my work a bit more of a WOW factor.

My existing stone set pieces have been set using outworkers in Birminghams Jewellery Quarter, which has worked well. Stone setting is a specialist trade and my knowledge of it has been limited and so last week I took the plunge and went off for a stone setting course.

Based in Kegworth in Leicestershire, In The Studio’ jewellery school is a perfect location for a short course, set by a cottage garden, with B&B attached, I would highly recommend it. The tutor was John Russel who has worked as a setter and tutor all his life. His classes were technically precise and John clearly has a passion for teaching traditional skills. 

By the end of the week I had set rings in a selection of styles including star, rub over, claw, cluster, and pave. When John passed my channel setting as a good professional standard I was so proud.

Now all I have to do is choose which stones I want to use in my work, I am thinking peridot to transform my silver turtle into a green sparkly turtle! I feel a shopping trip coming on….

My weeks work. (very bling!)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Loggerhead turtle rescue inspires new pendant.

Silver Turtle Pendant
Aquamarines latest piece of jewellery has been inspired by the time that owner Rose and artist Nicolas Pain helped to rescue a rare loggerhead turtle.

They discovered the six-inch (15cm) juvenile on Loe Bar, near Porthleven, during a day off from a Cornish diving trip. It was surrounded by a number of stranded Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish - one of the loggerhead's staple foods.

Matt with Squirt

The turtle was then taken in by a special quarantine unit at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay. Blue Reef curator Matt Slater has been looking after the turtle since it stranded last year. "It's extremely fortunate Rose rescued him when she did because loggerheads simply would not be able to survive for any length of time in British waters," Matt said, "They are prone to hypothermia and are vulnerable to getting caught in fishing nets and other marine flotsam and jetsam."

The turtle, nicknamed squirt, was released back into the atlantic ocean in March at Melenara Beach Gran Canaria, along with a second rescued turtle named Steve.

“When they first came in it really was touch and go whether they would survive but to see them both in prime condition powering their way out to sea was incredibly emotional,” he said.
“I was able to swim alongside both of them for a short while after they had been released and it was a truly amazing experience.

Squirt swims off to freedom.
“Both Steve and Squirt were in great physical condition and were soon able to power away from me even though it looked like they were expending no effort while I was finning away like crazy just to keep up!”

Nick and I are so pleased to see Squirt return to the ocean.  Many thanks to Matt and the team at the Blue Reef Aquarium.  There is a great film of them being released on you tube, and it even made the local bbc news.  If you would like to see more details of the silver turtle pendant it is available now available on the Aquamarine website.Thanks for reading!!!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Jumping Jellyfish

So Nick and I have been checking the weather every Thursday for the 'throw the tent in the car and hook up the boat' report for what seems like forever when last week it came - 2 mile an hour offshore winds and glorious sunshine for three whole days.

The destination: camping at Shell Island in North Wales.
The objective: diving on the nearby reef  'Sarn Badrig'
The problem: full on stinking cold. Flippin typical.

So not to be out done by bad health and armed with more Beechams products than your local pharmacy off we went.  For those who dont know this part of Wales, Sarn Badrig is one of several shingle reefs extending many miles under the sea into Cardigan Bay on the west coast. The causeway is made of glacial deposits left by receding ice sheets at the end of the last ice age.

Sarn Badrig is not your usual british dive - its shallow to the point of being uncovered during a low sring tide, and usually calm, due to it being protected by the bay.  The water is also often surprising clear due to the sandy bottom.  This leads to it being an extremely heathy nursery reef and in the spring it is a breed ing place for all kinds of critters making a great dive for seeing unusual creatures.

Seal on boiler with Bardsey in the background

Unfortunately my ears were more clogged up than the M25 in the rush hour so I boat handled whilst Nick explored the wreckage scattered along the reef - three seals had made this boiler there home and were not pleased when we tied our boat to it.  When we left they resumed their position and posed for a photo - its not often you see a seal floating above the water!

So after Nicks diving we were heading back to shore when we came across a shoal of huge barrel jellyfish. (Rhizostoma jellyfish) Thrilled with the chance to snorkel with these giants I grabbed my camera and jumped overboard.  My day was made up!  These jellys were about 20 inches across, and a couple of feet long, many had tiny fish hiding in the tentacles.  I was even more delighted when my favorite, the patterned Compass jellyfish joined in on the action - taking a barrel jelly on for a fight. I got some great photos of the battle, after a few minutes the jellys clearly tired of combat, made up and peacefully wobbled away from each other. (or they may have just bumped into each other - you decide!)

So my weekend of none diving had finished with some real marine wildlife action after all.  If you are a fan of wobbly sealife then please have a look at my jellyfish jewellery. I am now wearing mine with pride - a great way to remember an enchanting afternoon swim.

Friday, 11 December 2009

an introduction to Nicolas Pain, marine wildlife sculptor

When I wrote my first blog entry back in September I wrote that I had 2 passions in my life - diving and making jewellery.  When Nick, my other half read this he was not impressed, and so this entry is dedicated to him. 

Luckily for me, Nick is also obsessed with Scuba diving and when he's not seeking treasure with his underwater metal detector he is busy making bronze sculptures.  His work is inspired directly by the marine wildlife that he encounters whilst diving - his first piece is this fabulous Octopus - inspired by a years diving when he encountered these remarkable creatures on numerable occasions both in the UK and abroad.  The Octopus is bronze, created using the ancient lost wax process, and then patinated to give it a wonderful deep green colour.  The base (which is separate) is cast from a huge beach pebble found on Barmouth beach - it is made from marble resin and hand coloured. It is so realistic - many people think it is real!

The octopus on display at the dive show....

My personal favorite is this pair of Seahorses.  They look so delicate yet are solid bronze and so surprizingly robust.  Editions are strictly limited - only 24 of these will ever be made.  Nicks other sculptures are a diving Dolphin and a fantastic Cuttlefish

His current project is a pair of Hammerhead Sharks swimming around  a base in the form of a coral reef.  The bronze Sharks are finished and the base approaching completion - Nick is not one for half measures and each tiny coral is being carved by hand before being applied to the base.

Nicolas’s work has been exhibited with the Society of Wildlife Artist’s at their annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London.
His work can also be found permanently on display at the Number Four Gallery in St. Abbs.

If you are interested in any of Nicks work, please email me at

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Dive Show

Well I'm back from the dive show and am glad to say all the hard work paid off.  I was so busy for the whole weekend; many a cup of tea went undrunk and thanks as always to Mom for helping out!  It's always a pleasure to deal with the public direct - divers are so enthusiastic about their sport and many a salty sea dog tale was exchanged. 

I've only been doing this show for a couple of years but have already gained a few regular customers who make a bee line for my stand to see my new work. The one off coral pendant (see previous entry) sold within five minutes of the show opening.  The bead pendants sold well but I was secretly relieved to not sell the Seascape Silica brooch.  I love this stone and if I don't sell it soon it may make its way into my own jewellery box.

This is my stand - can you believe it all fits into the back of my Ford Fiesta!

Another commission from the show are these stingray earrings - the customer tried on the silver ones on the stand. She loved them so much she decided on a pair on solid gold.  Gold is such a great material to work in - it polishes easily to such a creamy lustre - seeing my normally silver rays in gold is a bit of a treat - the photo doesn't really do them justice.

I can make any of my collection in Gold, or to any size.  I have a couple of other commisions on the go at the moment and will publish photos of these ASAP - if you would like a piece made for you please email me with your ideas -

Now I need to consider what to do for the London show in March - I had a few requests for new Dolphins and am thinking of expanding my Octopus collection............ 

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

So I'm just back from a long weekend in St Abbs hunting (not literally) Wolf fish. How did it go? Well the thing with diving in Scotland in October is it can be quite changeable to say the least. With 2 out of 6 dives blown out, and the visibility around 3 meters a change in focus is needed. Looking close up can change a not so great dive into quite a memorable experience and even in the sheltered bays the walls and boulders at St Abbs are festooned with life, inparticularly 'Dead Mans Fingers' (a relative of Anemones) and peering close into them reveals a world in miniature.

Nudibranchs (above) are a favorite for divers but I did feel a little bit sorry for the Dead Mans Fingers which were being munched upon, sometimes up to 6 on each. The 'fingers' were a strange sight in themselves - they were going through a hibernation stage and more resembled miniature orange alien landscapes than fingers.

This has to be the smallest Hermit Crab I've ever seen!

And so back home and back to work. My current project is setting up for the Dive 2009 show which has come round very quickly. As well as making enough stock to show my full collection of jewellery, this year I have been busy making a few one off pieces. Looking at dive 'squidge' is always such an inspiration - I have been back through my old photos for ideas and decided on a large coral pendant to act as a centre piece to my coral texture collection. The addition of 2 little fish and a shell really gives this piece a cutesy feel.

Nearly finished is this gold brooch made with a fantastic piece of Seascape Silica. This is Andean Opal in its original rock matrix, then cut to display streaks of richest sea blues and soft browns. Its easy to see why its called Seascape silica - I was drawn to this piece as it reminded me of summer holidays - it even has a little boat in the foreground.

Some new additions on 'test' at the show will be silver bead pendants. Bead charms are really popular and I love the new dimension they have given to my existing pendant range. If they sell well at the show they will be added to the website.

I love the challenge of making new pieces so if you have any ideas you would like to work with me on please let me know - you could soon be the proud owner of a one off piece of jewellery.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

My first blog entry

Hello all and welcome to the first entry of my new blog. Of course the first thing when writing a blog is to decide what to write. I have found a great quote which quite accurately describes what is going on inside my head at the moment..... "Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words, but the words will not fit the spaces, or if they do, they will not match the design." I suppose it would be most fitting to introduce myself and what I intend this blog to evolve into, so here goes....

My name is Rose Ledbury and I am lucky enough to have two major passions in my life. Firstly I am an avid scuba diver - being under water is a little personal nirvana which I try to achieve as often as possible, and secondly I am a designer and maker of jewellery.

OK, so far so good. Let me expand......what can I tell you about diving, well its now September and its coming towards the end of the season. I predominantly dive in the UK and this year has seen diving at Babbacombe and Newquay on south coast, the Isles of Scilly, exploratory diving on Sarn Badrig off north Wales, and St Abbs in Scotland. The major reason why I love diving is the interaction with marine wildlife and I am aiming to tell you more of these little adventures throughout my blog. But the most important thing that has developed from my aquatic escapades is the inspiration behind my business,

You see a few years ago my dive club branch were having a fund raising auction so I dusted off my tools and made a silver Seahorse necklace. Bidding was fierce between my fellow divers and the necklace made £150 for the club. Soon commissions came flooding in. Here, I thought, is my niche. I designed and made a full collection of jewellery, and launched my website. A year later I quit my job and became self employed. A couple more years down the line and I have expanded to 16 collections, sell through 30 shops across the UK as well as the major dive shows and work as a freelance designer for other jewellery companies.

My major inspiration for my work still is marine wildlife and through this blog I hope to convey my passion (or obsession?) with these fascinating creatures, and explain how these little critters are helping me build my business.
So there you go, my first blog post finished. Turns out its just writing about yourself, which for most of us is in itself a favorite subject. So thank you, dear reader, for getting this far; I'm off hunting wolf fish in Scotland soon - I'll let you know how it goes!