Cycle of the Seasons on the River

In the north, every season is dramatic and uniquely beautiful, flowing together seamlessly. This necklace was inspired by my observation of the seasons transitioning into each other on the Fortymile River. The challenge was to abstract and distill my experience watching the river over many seasons into the physical reality of a piece of precious jewellery.

In the Yukon, winter is central, so I gave winter the star position in this piece. The diamonds are the sparkle of sun off snow crystals on the frozen river. The central diamond is a high quality 0.17 carat diamond from the Northwest Territories, bezel set in 20k gold. The three small, 0.03 carat, diamonds are flush set in 24k gold disks. I chose these styles of settings for the stones in the necklace to give a more informal and contemporary look, in keeping with the abstract nature of the piece.
Moving to the right on the necklace, the river transitions into break-up, with natural nuggets set in 24k gold frames illustrating the tumultuous icebergs. As the ice flows dissipate, open water appears, represented as a dark blue sapphire bezel set in 20k gold. Turbulent currents in the river are shown as interlocking spirals of 20k and 24k gold; the deeper, more orange-coloured 24k gold contrasts with the more delicately coloured 20k placer gold.

Through the summer the river flows, rippling water over gravel bars. I’ve reinterpreted a classic Yukon style, the nugget chain necklace, to represent the river by having nuggets represent the gravel bars and the wavy elements which link the nuggets, represent the flowing water. The sapphires, bezel set in 20k gold, dripping from the toggle clasp suggest the value of the water as precious drops, as well as representing a tributary creek on the river. The handmade toggle clasp incorporates a small plate stamped with my maker’s mark, Fortymile Gold and with 20k, identifying the gold.

As temperatures drop and freeze-up approaches, a beautiful 0.56 carat blue sapphire represents the liquidity and intense cold of the river water. The open water areas on the river start to close in from the edges; lines of 20k and 24k gold are indicate new ice. The river slows and solidifies, represented by a natural gold nugget. And so the river freezes again, and the cycle of the seasons on the river continues.

The gold I used in fabricating this piece is 20k placer gold, mined from the gravels of the Fortymile River drainage, close to the oxbow depicted in the centre of the necklace. In total, there is more than one ounce of gold in the necklace, including 20k placer gold,24k pure gold, and 16 natural nuggets of various sizes. The necklace is approximately 45 cm in length, with the central element shaped to conform to the curve of the neck.

I’m always glad to work with clients to design and fabricate jewellery specifically for them. If you would like to discuss a potential project, you can email me.

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