Since 1984, Colonial Jewelers in the TalbotTown Shopping Center has provided a range of services including custom jewelry design, antique and estate jewelry, fine diamonds, and their exclusive Waterfowl Collection and Sea Life Collection of the Eastern Shore.
The first thing that caught my eye were the various sea creatures in the Sea Life Collection. These were created from yellow gold, diamonds, and sterling silver. Designs include a hummingbird, anchor, compass, sea horse, and many other delightful creatures. One unique turtle has a white gold shell and a yellow gold body. Colonial Jewelers also offer collections by other designers, such as the Kovel Collection of nautical and sea life creatures and the Nicole Barr Collection of brightly colored hand-enameled jewelry cast in gold and sterling silver.
The store was founded by Robert Wolcott, who is the on-premise goldsmith. In 2011, his son, Jason Wolcott, joined him as a custom jewelry designer. I was invited to watch Jason design a man’s ring on the CAD-CAM 3-D computer program used for each custom piece. It began, he told me with the customer first selecting a 2-1/2 carat emerald from a lady’s brooch in the store’s estate jewelry collection. Together, they chose a bezel setting (which surrounds the gem’s “girdle” (its widest point) with a thin band of yellow gold that perfectly creates a smooth edge to keep the gem secure. The shank (the ring part that encases your finger) is also yellow gold. The emerald projects slightly above the two-stepped setting of yellow gold with diamonds creating a stunning design.
Another project Jason is working on is a commemorative medallion for a woman who had lost her beloved canine companion and wanted to send the dog’s vets thanks for their loving care of her animal. Jason’s design incorporates an embossed image of St. Francis of Assisi watching over her dog. On the back is the name of the vets. Jason demonstrated how his CAD program allows him to manipulate the medallion to show the thickness of the piece and different views of the design’s front and back.
We also discussed the latest trends in wedding ring design. Traditionally, engagement rings in a prong setting contained stones that overhung the band, and the standard wedding band prevented the two rings to fit snugly against each other. However, many women today prefer a ring that fits perfectly against their engagement ring. To create a custom wedding band that will do that, Jason’s first scans the engagement ring into his 3-D scanner and then creates the 3-D design. The design is sent to a CNC machine, which takes the data and creates an exact full-size wax mold of the wedding ring. The mold is then sent to their casting company.
The wedding ring trend for men is the use of metals other than gold, such as the tungsten carbide ring worn by Jason. Unlike gold, which is a soft metal and can be scraped or damaged by even a fingernail, the hardy tungsten carbide can keep its polish and luster for a lifetime.
Every field of design has its vocabulary, and with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I asked Jason to help me become a more knowledgeable consumer and understand a “girl’s best friend”–diamonds. He explained diamonds are graded by the Four C’s:” color (colorless vs. light yellow), cut (how the multiple facets interact with light), carat (weight, not size), and clarity (purity and rarity). A flawless diamond has no inclusions (internal flaws) and no visible blemishes (external imperfections).
Looking at the diamonds in their display cases, while applying what I just learned, it is easy to forget that they began their journey deep within the earth. Diamonds are formed under conditions of intense heat and pressure that cause carbon atoms to crystallize. Due to expansion, the earth’s magma erupts and forces diamond-bearing rocks to the earth’s surface where they are mined.
Jason showed me some of the other gems in their LED-lit display cases, and I lingered over the unique sparkling pieces. My favorite, though, was an exquisite ring, designed by the great René Lalique, that has a place of honor in the center of a display case for estate jewelry. I love the Art Nouveau Period, and I gazed at it longingly, wishing it were mine.
Being an optimist, I realized this is Leap Year, and I was reminded of the ancient Irish legend of how a deal between St. Brigid and St. Patrick encouraged women to propose to men every four years on February 29th. Food for thought.
Colonial Jewelers is located at the TalbotTown Shopping Center, 218 N. Washington St., suite 27. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 to 5:30, Saturday 9:30 to 4:00, closed Sunday and Monday. Follow them on Facebook @ColonialJewelersOfEaston or for an appointment call 410-822-7611.