October 10, 2014
Creation time: 1 Day
Production date: Current Collection
Materials used: Exotic Hardwoods (Pink Ivory, Ebony), Brass, Freshwater Pearl
Basilica design shown in Pink Ivory with Brass filigree and Freshwater Pearls
The Basilica is one of our current favorites in our lineup of made-to-order body jewelry, both because we find it strikingly beautiful and also because it is so multidisciplinary in construction. Utilizing woodworking, metalsmithing and lapidary skills, multiple Onetribe employees pull together to create each unique set of Basilica plugs one at a time as they are ordered by our customers. The Basilica plugs are available on our website here in both Pink Ivory and Ebony wood. Read on to see how these beauties are produced in our Richmond, Virginia workshop.
We start with a square block of wood that we'll turn on a lathe to create the base wood plugs.
Turning the square block round.
Cutting the wearing surface and flares for the wood plugs.
The wearing surface is sanded and polished, and the plugs are now starting to take shape. The pieces are ready to be cut from the spindle and have each side of each plug carved and finished.
Next we create our domed brass filigree backdrop for the decorative inlay with careful hammering to avoid damaging the fragile details.
The faces of the wood plugs are carved into a concave shape which perfectly matches each individual piece of domed brass filigree.
Soldering together the elements for the setting which will hold the pearl floating above the filigree and the hardware which will hold the inlay assembly to the base plug.
After soldering, the pieces must be sanded to remove oxidization prior to polishing.
We utilize whole freshwater pearls which are carved individually for each Basilica project.
We use our lapidary (stone grinding) equipment to carve the pearls into domed cabochon stones with a flat base.
While it looks like a simple process, it must be done carefully and with attention to the material because pearls are composed of concentric layers. The outside layer can (and will) chip in large fragments, making the piece unusable. We must work carefully to minimize waste.
We choose to bezel set our pearls (and indeed all of our inlays) rather than gluing them. This creates a longer lasting piece of jewelry built in a traditional manner. The sides of the bezel are folded over the edge of the gem, securing it.
With a set pearl and polished filigree, our pieces are nearly finished. All elements are checked for quality (sturdiness of the setting, finish, strength of solder seams) and then we begin final assembly.
The result is a pair of gorgeous Onetribe Basilica plugs made for one specific customer. We love the process of creation, and we hope you enjoy the finished product!