Girl Scouts learned all about diamonds and jewelry as they converged at Christian Caine Jewelers in Shepherdstown in an effort to earn another badge. Members of Junior Troop 40948 and Cadet Troops 40726 and 40480 spent Wednesday afternoon hearing how a jewelry designer comes up with ideas for pieces as well as helping make a unique piece.
Christopher Rankin, designer at the Shepherdstown store, shared with the girls how he gets inspiration for pieces from places he visits around the world as well as from ordinary every day occurrences.
"I can get ideas anywhere," Rankin shared. "I write them down on whatever I can find to write on." He shared that sometimes ideas come on airplanes, while sightseeing or while having a coffee. From his initial sketches, Rankin then develops a more detailed drawing often done with watercolors to highlight different coloring in the metals and gems proposed for a given piece of jewelry.
While learning about the art of jewelry making, the girls worked hands-on to create a bracelet. Beginning with a flat piece of silver, Rankin walked the girls through the process of shaping the piece, creating texture and finishing. Texture was created as each girl took a turn at hammering the silver to create dents and ridges. Each time the silver was hit with the hammer, Rankin explained that it became more compressed and hardened which is important in jewelry so that it does not reshape itself.
The girls then sanded the bracelet with sandpaper and finished it off with a wax file that brought out its color.
The inspiration for the group project was the desert, which Rankin had the girls describe and imagine before their work began.
"What do you see?" Rankin asked the girls. They shared such ideas as rocks, flat sand, shadows, stars and tumble weeds.
"Now we translate the experience into a piece of jewelry," Rankin said.
Stars in the sky were depicted as diamonds that were added to the bracelet after the silver was shaped and textured.
The girls were able to look at diamonds under high powered microscopes to determine the characteristics that help in grading the diamonds.
Junior troop leader Chasity Plaza explained that each of the girls in her troop are students at Shepherdstown Elementary School. After learning about the jewelry at Christian Caine, the girls traveled to Plaza's home where they completed a jewelry project making pieces from seashells.
Kathy Deffer, area membership manager with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital shared that Rankin is a strong supporter and generous donor for Girl Scouts.
He designed the pin which is presented to each winner of the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction honors," she said. In addition, she shared that Christian Caine Jewelers also donates a string of pearls to the Women of Distinction event to be raffled each year. The funds raised go toward the Gold Award Scholarship given to a graduating senior who has served in Scouts.
This year's Women of Distinction honorees are Jean Neely from Shepherdstown, Ethel Wayble Bovey from Martinsburg, and Susan Caperton from Berkeley Springs who will join the ranks of the 28 other area women who have received the honor over the past eight years. The women will be recognized at the Girl Scouts' annual Women of Distinction luncheon, to be held Sept. 25 at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.