Foiling & Technique
What is Foil and Foiling?
- At Larkspur & Hawk we use specially-treated, colored, metallic foils to add magical light and color to each of our designs
- These foils are sourced and sometimes painted by our founder and lead designer, Emily Satloff
- Some foils are smooth while others are matte or have a special textured pattern reminiscent of guillochè enamel. The textured foils are one of Larkspur & Hawk’s innovations and Emily has not seen this type of foil used in antique jewelry, but, she would not be surprised if one day she finds an example.
- Emily’s office occasionally looks like a color lab, where Emily's eye for and love of color guides her designs. Always testing stones with different colored foils to find the combinations that work best together, Emily arranges and rearranges possibilities to arrive at the most compelling combinations of light and color. Find our full color palette here.
- A foiled finish will always greatly depend on a stone cut. The facets will make the foil shimmer beneath the stones and results in our signature 'halo' of the colorless quartz around the foil. A colorless quartz, colored foil, and a silver setting on their own are not particularly enticing, but when united, they are magical!
- Larkspur & Hawk is often asked why the art of foiling is not more prevalent today. While we all used to wonder the same thing, over the years of specializing in modern foiled jewelry, we have come to learn that its beauty comes with a price — time, skill, and materials. It takes a skilled jeweler a great deal of time and precision to carefully create a foil backing, custom cut for each setting. The craftsperson then must smoothly lay each one in what is often a concave, closed-back setting, prior to setting each stone.
- In the Georgian period, from which much of our design inspiration derives, the lapidary techniques were not as advanced as they are today, and in order to add light, color and vibrancy to stones, gold, silver, and metallic foils were used to enhance the set gemstones. Recall also during this period, that the primary indoor light sources were candles, and colored foils were used to brighten the face in these more dimly and romantically lit rooms.
Selection of Georgian Jewelry from Emily's Personal Collection
What is a Closed-Back Setting?
- A setting with a fully-lined back that allows for a surface which is lined the foil. This requires a great deal of metal, especially compared to the more modern bezel settings with open backs.
- Most 18th century and early 19th century gem-set jewelry had a closed-back setting, rather than the very open and airy settings we often use today. This was for a very pragmatic reason; lapidary skills were not so advanced and as such, the antique cuts benefited from the reflective lights that a gold, silver or foil-backed setting would reveal.
- At Larkspur & Hawk we are fascinated by the way a foil can transform a stone, but, we are also very proud of the way our jewelry looks from the back. We know it is an extra expense to have closed settings and as such, we strive to make our jewelry stand out from every direction. In fact, some Larkspur & Hawk pieces are even reversible!
What is a Gold Wash?
- In the Georgian period, because platinum was very technically challenging to work with, silver was the white metal of choice. Just as we often like to use white metal with precious and semi-precious stones, so too did the Georgians.
- It is not uncommon to see silver-set, Georgian jewelry backed or completely covered with a yellow gold wash. This may seem counterintuitive, but was a mode of practicality -- quite simply the gold wash protected clothes from the damages of silver tarnish.
- At Larkspur & Hawk, we always enjoy referencing and paying homage to the past and as such, we have followed the tradition of gold washed sterling silver. In our work, we often completely cover the silver with a thick 18K yellow or rose gold wash, or offer black- or white-rhodium washed silver.
- We also enjoy appealing to a wide variety of tastes and price points, so we also offer certain pieces in solid gold.