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A Tulip Brooch

Our historical artifacts are an art treasure. While walking on a street you may see an old house, a mosque, an old fountain or if you walk into one of the old palaces  you can see a line or a shape which will inspire you in  jewellery design. 

Let's draw first... 

My favorite shape is tulip. You can find the tulip everywhere you look. Below, you will see stilized tulip designs. We will take fig. 2 to create a reticulated tulip brooch.  



Fig. 1






First of all let us look at the materials for rendering a design in colour.

  • Medium thickness tracing paper (I use light tracing paper for trials)

  • mecanical pencil with a very sharp and hard (H2) lead  

  • Kneadable eraser

  • Special pencil sharpener for sharpening the lead

  • Coloured pencils

When we render the design we get the three dimentional effect by using shading . When you design  to show the jewellery to your customer as close to real thing as possible  or if you design for a competition,  your drawing and rendering will be like this but if you design to give instructions to your bench jeweller your design should carry all the information. All the measurements should include three sides, i.e. from top, front and side.

When we touch the paper one side feels a little rough the other side feels smooth. We use the rough side for colouring with pencils the other side for painting with water colours.


Yellow metal

You see below the colouring, highlighting and shadowing of a flat, a slightly curved and a domed metal. We assume the light is coming from the top left  corner.

Flat, yellow metal 

 Slightly curved yellow metal 

 Domed, yellow metal



White metal

White metal is coloured a little differently than the yellow. The colour of the paper (white) is used for the metal's own colour. The highlights are done using the white colouring pencil and shadowing is done either with the metallic pencil or with gray colouring pencil.

Flat, white metal

Slightly curved white metal

Domed, white metal



Rendering the tulip 

The part of our tulip marked with x will be domed shiny metal and  the part marked with xx will be reticulated silver. If you want you can use gold for domed part, but for the reticulated part I like to use 800 karat silver.  

We will design the domed part as yellow metal and  flat parts as white metal and we will give to it a textured look to imitate the 'reticulated metal'. 

We colour for the yellow metal very light yellow.



The domed part gets more light in this piece.  Start  highlighting the dome strongly from the highest point and as you colour toward the edges lighten your grip on the pencil.


We start highlighting heavily but before coming all the way to the edge, the colouring ends. This way, we start giving the domed effect to the design. We, then, start shading the places where there is less or no light.


I use brown colouring pencil for shading the yellow metal but you may change the brown's hue according the yellow metal's hue. We will start shadowing from the edges (darkest part) and  colour towards the inside. Before touching the white highlights we should stop colouring because a little bit of the yellow should be seen between the highlight and shadow in the design.

The reticulated metal's texture rendered like this; colour the metal, add the shadow and the highlight. Imitate the wrinkled metal's texture by  highlighting on the highest parts of the little domes  and  shadowing on the hollow parts. 




We will use 925 karat sterling silver for domed part of the tulip. We will polish our metal thorougly and then we will have it gold plated or if we wish we can use gold for this part. The part that we will reticulate will be 800-825 karat silver.

'Reticulation' is a metal texturing technique which is done using the differences of silver's and copper's melting points. First time it was used in Russia by the  Czar's jeweller Peter Carl Faberge. 

We start preparing the metal; 800 part of silver 200 part copper (or 825 silver - 175 copper) is melted and the ingot is rolled to 1mm - 0.8mm. (18-20 gauge)sheet. If we intend to change the shape of this metal later it will break therefore we should do this before the reticulation.

The metal is heated until it shows a dark red colour (not shiny). We quench it either in a heated solution of 10%  sulfric acid  or in a unheated solution of 33% sulfric acid. By doing that we get rid of the copper oxide which is accumulated on the surface.

(When you prepare acid solution always add the acid to the water, otherwise it will splatter around)

After you repeat this heating and quenching procedure 4 - 5 times there will be a pure silver layer on the surface of our metal.

Place your metal on a clean soldering pad and heat it with a torch which gives a neutralized flame.When you see the metal turn dull red and start wrinkling, change the direction of your flame.Continue this application until all your metal's surface is wrinkled.  Do not hold the flame on the surface until the metal is bright red. Because in that case you have to start heating and quenching application all over again. 

What happens here is that the inside of the metal which has more copper melts  before the surface which has high silver content.  While the melted metal expands and then cools down, the unmelted thin layer of silver wrinkles. 

When the metal cools down,  place your tulip design on it and draw  with a sharp point. Saw the tulip leaving a little margin around the lines. You should cut the whole tulip design  . (x and xx parts)

Sterling silver sheet will be domed, therefore it musn't be very thin. 0.40 - 0.45 mm.  is a good thickness. Draw the part which is marked x in the design to the metal and saw it leaving a little margin around the lines. Put this metal up side down over a lead block and give the dome shape by using doming tools. Use a piece of heavy paper between the lead and the silver sheet to prevent the lead pieces to stick to the silver. Because when heated during soldering, the lead particles melt and stick the silver permanently. 

To construct our tulip we solder the  domed leaves (x marked in the design) to the reticulated piece. File around the shape very carefully. Now, you are ready to solder the findings of your brooch.  After polishing your tulip you have a  beautiful brooch.

The point to take into consideration is; the top layer of silver is thin therefore you must be carefull to file and polish it. When soldering, be very carefull not to get the solder on the reticulated metal. 


Today, I offered you just a drop of water from the huge sea of knowledge ......