Designs by Keith Stevens
First and foremost, we require that every one of our jewelry pieces be excellent in its execution. We strive to come as close to perfection as is humanly possible on every one of our projects, whether the project is custom jewelry or a piece of jewelry that we are designing as part of our own line. But, excellent execution, sometimes referred to as quality, is by itself, not enough.
Every piece of jewelry should be a reflection of Heaven.
It is my perspective, and also the perspective of everyone who works with me, that every piece of jewelry should be beautiful. It is not enough that a piece be strange, clever, or unique. It is also not enough that it be well made. It must be beautiful. Some will say that, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And, indeed it is. But this phrase means something different than most people supposed. It means that if you have beauty within you, you can see and identify beauty outside of yourself. It does not mean that just because one person declares something to be beautiful, it is, in fact beautiful. Beauty is a divine quality, like truth.
When something is beautiful, it has the capacity to inspire us. It brings us happiness, joy, peace, a sense of victory. It may inspire creativity, and it may inspire us to come up higher and be more of who we really are.
An excellently executed piece of jewelry that is truly beautiful actually has the ability to attract light, store light, and transmit light. This is the origin of our name, Designs of Light.
I first began working part time for my father, Keith Stevens, during spring break when I was 14. I wanted to finance a vacation trip I had planned for that summer. Working in the shop with him and learning about making jewelry was comfortable and very familiar. I had often visited with my father while he was working, and conversations at dinner were often about jewelry projects he’d been working on.
After returning from my vacation, I continued to work part time after school whenever there was a project underway that I could assist with. Initially, I was injecting waxes and cleaning them up in preparation for casting. After a few months, I learned how to set stones by using CZs and silver replica castings of our Platinum Puffed Hearts with Pavé-set Diamonds. These pieces are excellent for learning setting methods, as the setting styles used on these pieces include bezel setting, prong setting, and bead setting.
I have kept the first one I finished setting. I call it my ‘miracle heart’ as the piece was one I had started on at the beginning of my training in setting, and I had set it aside after ‘messing it up.’ After making progress on other silver castings, I returned to my ‘miracle heart,’ repaired it, and finished the setting process. Since then I have set many of our platinum and diamond hearts. I can attest that setting these is far more enjoyable than the CZs and silver! Silver is a very ‘sticky’ and soft metal, and CZs are finicky. I continued to work part time for my father, intermittently until January 2011. At which point I began working as a full-time employee.
During the past several years I have been involved, in varying aspects, with many of our custom projects for individual customers. However, most of my attention has gone towards the projects we produce as stock for our jewelry store clients. Often, when a jewelry company has created a design that reveals itself to be challenging for the jewelers they have on staff, they will outsource the work. This has been my standard work.
Over the years working in our Phoenix AZ jewelry shop, I’ve learned how to develop methods and techniques of approach that allow for each project to be completed in the most efficient manner possible while also producing them as exquisitely beautiful works of art. My bench acquired the title ‘Quality Assurance’ as our shop began assigning names to the stages of our work. Thrumming with string, pieces of wood, and thin strips of sandpaper, in small hard to reach areas to give them a high smooth shine, was one of the skills I acquired during that time. When I became ‘Project Supervisor’ it was interesting and challenging to share with co-workers the methods and techniques which had been developed. As someone who is naturally left-handed, I have often had to teach myself how to do a process with my right hand, before then sharing the technique with a co-worker.
A process we have been using in the past few years is what we call, ‘Laser Polishing.’ We use a laser welder to melt the interior surface of a piece, in the areas where one would be incapable of reaching when using a polishing lathe or thrumming, causing the metal on the surface to become liquid. Then, by shifting the position where our laser beam contacts the surface, we can smooth and settle areas that would otherwise be left rough. This process causes the interior of a piece to be capable of a far greater mirroring effect than is common. Increasing the light to, and brilliance of, the stones we set. We have also used this method to wonderful effect when smoothing prongs after setting diamonds.