Abby Leon, Paradigm Gallery Director
Artists create for many different reasons. Some find it as a means to communicate: a way to express their emotions, thoughts, or beliefs. It can also be a way to tell a story to the viewer. Other artists seek to innovate, some to inspire. Jewelry artists Steven and Susan Shaikh create to share and bring others joy; their work is selfless. They create for YOU. Not only is their reason to create in sync, so is their ability to collaborate. Susan has a love and knowledge of gemstones, as well as the knack to combine various gems and colors. Steven has the skills to hand-fabricate each setting. Together, they have developed endless designs with unique settings. Most of their work begins with Susan’s ideas as sketches. Steven then brings everything to fruition, using his skills and experience to fabricate each piece by hand. Over the years, they have earned a massive fan following because of their dedication to their patrons. We here at the FWMoA are also part of this fan club, and are so pleased to showcase their jewelry!
“Art is really a deeply personal interpretation for each one of us. Thus, it never surprises me when what I used as inspiration to make a piece of jewelry is totally perceived as something else.
My formative years for my work began in India as a child with me learning different forms of art, including silversmithing, metalworking, stone carving, and so forth. There was nothing that did not pique my interest.
My initial work here in the US was mainly Indian-inspired jewelry, but for some reason I was drawn to the Arts and Crafts movement. Thus, my inspiration for my work suddenly turned to architecture, nature, and, surprisingly, Japanese culture.
Susan, the love of my life, is my main inspiration for designs now, and she creates the sketches which I interpret and make the jewelry from.
I met Susan 23 years ago, and after getting married (13 days after we met), we moved to Fort Wayne, her hometown. She is the person responsible for making me focus on jewelry as I want to make everything in art, and she is the one who has grounded me.
We both believe that we have a gift and this is to be shared; thus, we make jewelry which is affordable for everyone. We get immense joy in sharing our stories about the stones we get from all over the world and our patrons love is our true wealth.”
Here is an example of how one of their rings was created:
The material I started with was a piece of thicker gauged silver for the band, a fine silver bezel wire for the setting, and a princess cut citrine gemstone.
I then placed the ring band strip against a texture plate and fed it through this rolling mill. This allowed me to emboss an intricate design onto the silver which will be seen on the outer part of the completed piece.
In this next step, I used a ring bender to form the initial band. This devise is used to bend the ring band into the desired shape. In this case, Susan and I designed for a round band.
I then use a caliper, a type of measuring tool, on the citrine to calculate the required size for the bezel which holds the gemstone in place. With that information, I used a pair of flat nose pliers to shape the bezel wire. After the bezel was created, I soldered the bezel to the textured ring band which was cut to size with a jeweler’s saw.
Lastly, I used a solution of vinegar and salt (never chemicals) to remove the presence of firescale, a form of oxidization on the ring from heating the silver. I then set the citrine in the bezel, using a mechanical bezel pusher and gave a final polish to the sterling silver.
This is what the ring looks like after the final polish. Citrine and Sterling Silver Ring, $92
To see more of Steven and Susan Shaikh’s jewelry, come visit us at the Paradigm Gallery: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm.