Beauty in Imperfection in Belle Armoire Jewelry

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Barbara Polinsky | 0 Comments

Last summer I wrote an article about the creative process behind my collection, Beauty in Imperfection.  My friend Alma suggested that I submit the story to Stampington Publications and it was just published it in their lovely Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine.


Beauty in Imperfection
Belle Armoire Jewelry Spring 2010
By Barbara Polinsky

It’s not perfect, and that’s the point. File marks, visible seams and solder – things that other jewelers might consider bewildering - are the trademark of my collection. Inspired by the imperfection that abounds in nature, people, and in life, these rings, bracelets, pendants and earrings are a tribute to acceptance. The forms are clean and simple. As in life, It’s the blemishes that add the depth and character.

Beauty in Imperfection was born in a moment of frustration. I was working in the studio, trying unsuccessfully to fabricate a new design. That day, nothing was going right and I kept making careless mistakes. In total exasperation, I squished the entire piece I was working on through a rolling mill! When it emerged through the other end of the mill, I was astonished at the graceful irregular form. I sat back and smiled.

Through this experience, I began to think about how much time and energy we spend in pursuit of perfection. This accidental discovery has been golden (pun intended). The ordinary, ho-hum bracelet that I was trying so diligently to make has been reshaped and transformed into something so much more genuine. Viewed only technically, my bracelet is a disaster - an ornamental fender bender, almost inconceivable through the eyes of an experienced metalsmith. Examining this same bracelet with introspection and sentiment, it is so much more valuable than the sum of its parts. What do you think? As a final flourish and visual metaphor, a small white faceted diamond is handset into each piece of jewelry. It serves as a reminder that precious gifts in our lives are not always in plain sight and shouldn’t be taken for granted. The more I think about this concept and share it with others, the more I see how freeing and powerful it is. Our personal experiences and definition of perfection may vary but I believe that our desire for acceptance is universal.

I’m so touched and honored by the stories people are sharing with me. A friend of mine gave her teenage daughter a small pendant to applaud her uniqueness and protect her from the body image messages in the media. Some are choosing to wear these rings as wedding bands - Representing each person’s individuality and their commitment to each other: two pieces coming together as one – but not seamlessly. When I feel uncertain about something I find comfort in slipping on a bracelet or ring. It’s my subtle way of acknowledging that things don’t always unfold as I anticipated and it is my cue to be open to new possibilities. As a designer, it is so exciting to watch this product evolve and know that it is affirming to people at the same time.

I invite you to make a Beauty in Imperfection™ bangle. Don’t worry if you make a mistake – it is allowed, even encouraged. This project can be both enjoyable and meditative. The following steps are not precise and are open to your experimentation and interpretation. No two bracelets will look alike and each will get better with time and wear. Just like us!  Other styles from the Beauty in Imperfection Collection can be found here.


Sterling Silver Wire - 12 gauge for a lightweight bangle

Medium Solder 

Diamond (1) small faceted -approximately 1 to 2pts in size


Wire Cutters

Bracelet Mandrel

Pickle Solution


Various Hammers

Soldering Set-Up


Charcoal Block or Fire Brick Cross

Locking Tweezers with Wooden Grips

Scissors for cutting solder


Fine Tweezers



Tumbler with Steel Shot or Polishing wheels and compound


Flex Shaft Drill Bit – fine Tapered Bur Bezel Pusher – fine Burnisher-fine and slightly blunted   


  • Cut wire to desired length using wire cutters. To determine length, wrap a string around your hand at your knuckles, excluding your thumb then add ¼ inch. (71/4 +1/4 = 71/2 inches)
  • Form the wire into a circle making sure the ends are touching. You may want to use pliers or a bracelet mandrel

  • Clean
  • Pickle your piece to clean for soldering

  • Solder
  • Set the formed bracelet on soldering surface
  • Flux and dry area to be soldered
  • Cut a piece of solder and place it under the joint
  • Heat the wire until the solder flows joining the two ends
  • Quench in water
  • Examine the connection making sure it is secure

  • More Cleaning
  • Remove any sharp edges with your Jewelers file
  • Pickle

  • Forming
  • This is the fun part! Now, you get to shape and stretch your bracelet. There are so many different ways to accomplish this. You can hammer on a mandrel or steel block; note the material and shape of your hammerhead and the marks left on your piece. Experiment with different hammers. Interesting effects can also be made working on forming stakes or by embossing. Try gently pressing a section in a rolling mill. Explore, engage and enjoy!
  • Note: If you feel your silver becoming work hardened, stop, anneal, pickle and continue forming until it is a size and shape you are happy with. If the seam opens or if it has been stretched it too much, no worries, remove a small section, solder and pickle again. Polish
  • Tumble for 30 minutes or hand polish using a light touch, as not to remove your hand wrought patina.
  • Decide where you would like to set your stone. Make sure the area is wide and deep enough to support the stone.
  • Drill a hole through the bracelet. The hole should be half the diameter of the stone. You will probably want to wear magnifiers for these last few steps.
  • Enlarge the hole with a tapered bur. The widest part of the stone needs to sit just below the surface.
  • File a small amount of the metal around the hole leaving a tiny metal lip.
  • Insert stone making sure it is sitting below the lip you created. Using a slightly blunted steel burnisher, gently push down on the metal lip to secure the stone.
  • Tip -When ever possible, I use reclaimed Silver and Gold. This bangle is a perfect opportunity to recycle silver bits and pieces that are waiting for a new lease on life.
  • Posted in Beauty in Imperfection, Belle Armoire Jewelry, BMJNYC News, DIY, Press, Stampington Publications



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