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Opinions on milgrain: antique v. modern

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fanboy

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I''m trying to decide whether to do milgrain on the ring I''m having made for my girlfriend. I understand that milgrain is often associated with antique settings, but I really didn''t want to do anything ''antique''. It also appears that milgrain has become more trendy in the past couple of years as more ornately decorated and antique settings have come into vogue.

So, what is everyone''s general opinion of milgrain?
Will any ring with milgrain scream ''antique''?
Does milgrain, due to its lack of function in well-made settings, contradict pure, modern design?
 

Love in Bloom

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Date: 6/20/2007 10:15:41 AM
Author:fanboy
I''m trying to decide whether to do milgrain on the ring I''m having made for my girlfriend. I understand that milgrain is often associated with antique settings, but I really didn''t want to do anything ''antique''. It also appears that milgrain has become more trendy in the past couple of years as more ornately decorated and antique settings have come into vogue.

So, what is everyone''s general opinion of milgrain?
Will any ring with milgrain scream ''antique''?
Does milgrain, due to its lack of function in well-made settings, contradict pure, modern design?
Fanboy, it is all just history repeating. Real antique settings weren''t antiques when the were in vogue, they were current! And I''m confused at the idea of milgraining "contaminating" a "pure" design. I think milgrain is used as a design element to create a border or boundry with the use of texture. I think it would depend on how it is executed whether the milgrain would add an antique look to a ring. I think it also depends on the size of the milgrain. I personally do not like the look of larger guage milgraining; I perfer smaller (1B-00) guage milgrain. It is harder to find jewelers who can do smaller milgrain, and more difficult yet to find ones who do it well. But if you can find one, I think that would be your best bet for avoiding the antique look if you absolutely want to incorporate it into your design.
 

Ellen

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I personally love fine miligrain. And I think it can really make a setting, but on a case by case basis.
 

pyramid

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I think what fanboy is referring to maybe is what Oldminer wrote about once. He said that milligrain was originally used to disguise a wavy edge, meaning less precise and less expensive pieces which were cast had milligrain as a design feature as compared to handwrought pieces where the skill of the craftsman meant the edges were clean and straight.
 

fanboy

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:35:09 AM
Author: Pyramid
I think what fanboy is referring to maybe is what Oldminer wrote about once. He said that millgrain was originally used to disguise a wavy edge, meaning less precise and less expensive pieces which were cast were made with millgrain as compared to handwrought pieces where the skill of the craftsman meant the edges were clean and straight.
Right; in other words: since milgrain was originally applied to hide flaws, and it is no longer necessary, isn''t it a bit like adding a corinthian column to a modern steel-frame building because people like the way columns look?
 

diamondseeker2006

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I consider fine milgrain to be a beautiful design element. If I were having either Leon or Van Craeynest make me a ring, I''d be very pleased to have their milgraining on my ring. If you want pave without milgrain, look at Ritani. But I really would not have Leon make a pave ring without the fine milgrain. It is timeless in a classic piece of jewelry just as some 18th century antiques are being faithfully reproduced today. They never go out of style.
 

pyramid

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I think most people see milligrain as a design feature, I never knew this about its history until Oldminer mentioned it on the forum and although jewellers, goldsmiths, appraisers and other people in the trade may know it I think that most people do not.
 

Love in Bloom

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:35:09 AM
Author: Pyramid
I think what fanboy is referring to maybe is what Oldminer wrote about once. He said that milligrain was originally used to disguise a wavy edge, meaning less precise and less expensive pieces which were cast had milligrain as a design feature as compared to handwrought pieces where the skill of the craftsman meant the edges were clean and straight.
I would like to read that one, it sounds interesting. Do you have the link?
 

pyramid

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:39:51 AM
Author: diamondseeker2006
I consider fine milgrain to be a beautiful design element. If I were having either Leon or Van Craeynest make me a ring, I''d be very pleased to have their milgraining on my ring. If you want pave without milgrain, look at Ritani. But I really would not have Leon make a pave ring without the fine milgrain. It is timeless in a classic piece of jewelry just as some 18th century antiques are being faithfully reproduced today. They never go out of style.

Likewise if you think of picture frames which have fancy touches on them in a way milligrain I would see as being like that, like a frill on a dress etc.
 

diamondseeker2006

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:44:30 AM
Author: Pyramid

Date: 6/20/2007 11:39:51 AM
Author: diamondseeker2006
I consider fine milgrain to be a beautiful design element. If I were having either Leon or Van Craeynest make me a ring, I''d be very pleased to have their milgraining on my ring. If you want pave without milgrain, look at Ritani. But I really would not have Leon make a pave ring without the fine milgrain. It is timeless in a classic piece of jewelry just as some 18th century antiques are being faithfully reproduced today. They never go out of style.

Likewise if you think of picture frames which have fancy touches on them in a way milligrain I would see as being like that, like a frill on a dress etc.
Yes, exactly. Does she want a plain a-line silk wedding dress with no pearls, lace, embroidery, etc.? Some people may like very simple but elegant designs with no frills at all. In that case I might go with a non-pave setting altogether.
 

fanboy

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Well, the thing with jewelry is that it is inherently ornamental in nature, so it''s hard to draw the line between what is essential or superfluous in its design. If the purpose is to maximize sparkle, than it makes sense to do pave or micro-pave, but maybe not milgrain. Of course, if the purpose is to mimic an antique look, then things are different--but that''s not my purpose.

The picture frame example is a good comparison. Modern sensibilities demand less ornate frames, or sometimes, no frame at all. Leon Mege''s theory behind his work is that he would show as little metal as possible and, indeed, would create a floating diamond without any metal at all if such were possible. I appreciate this theory, but find it odd then to incorporate milgrain into the design, which draws attention to the metal--metal that didn''t have to be there.
 

pyramid

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:44:02 AM
Author: Love in Bloom

Date: 6/20/2007 11:35:09 AM
Author: Pyramid
I think what fanboy is referring to maybe is what Oldminer wrote about once. He said that milligrain was originally used to disguise a wavy edge, meaning less precise and less expensive pieces which were cast had milligrain as a design feature as compared to handwrought pieces where the skill of the craftsman meant the edges were clean and straight.
I would like to read that one, it sounds interesting. Do you have the link?

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/problems-with-the-milgrain-on-my-new-ring.33572/

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/pave-bead-melee-set.28686/

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/can-milgraining-be-removed.62857/
 

pyramid

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:54:53 AM
Author: fanboy
Well, the thing with jewelry is that it is inherently ornamental in nature, so it's hard to draw the line between what is essential or superfluous in its design. If the purpose is to maximize sparkle, than it makes sense to do pave or micro-pave, but maybe not milgrain. Of course, if the purpose is to mimic an antique look, then things are different--but that's not my purpose.

The picture frame example is a good comparison. Modern sensibilities demand less ornate frames, or sometimes, no frame at all. Leon Mege's theory behind his work is that he would show as little metal as possible and, indeed, would create a floating diamond without any metal at all if such were possible. I appreciate this theory, but find it odd then to incorporate milgrain into the design, which draws attention to the metal--metal that didn't have to be there.

I think the thing here when buying an engagement ring is the lady in question's taste. I know that jewellery is ornamental but I know for myself I like clean lines, no decoration like milligrain or even pave, having said that though I like round diamonds and not square cut ones. So although I like clean straight lines in my ring mount I do not want straight lines in my diamond shape. So everyone has their own taste and it is your girlfriend's taste which is the most important thing here even above your own taste and opinions on what the ring should be.

I see you are trying to balance things but most women just know if they like that style or they don't. Many like lots of styles but they would know if they want that in an engagement ring at the time it is bought, not to say they might not change their opinion in later years
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pyramid

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Thinking about what you said I think in my opinion milligrain is not superfluous to the design with pave, because in my mind pave like milligrain is a fancy decorated look and not just a way to maximise sparkle. You opinion sees milligrain as something different to pave and your girlfriend or another person may have different opinions again as does Leon Mege.

I also see pave as an antique look, yes it is in vogue just now but in the same way another poster said it was in vogue way back when it was first introduced. I think of antique looking rings where time was not so much money as it is today and jewellers could take their time designing wonderful creations and those were done with lots of diamonds, flowers, leaves, intricate designs, so I see pave as antique too. I also think of milligrain as being antique.
 

Love in Bloom

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Thanks for the linkys Pyramid! What a milgrain nightmare!

Hmm...That is really crappy about ppl trying to cover up shoddy work with milgrained edges. I must say, though, that I don''t think that is the case with all jewelers/artists. I''m partial in this case, of course, but here is what I believe good milgrain edges look like:

LIBmilgrain01.jpg
 

Love in Bloom

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I don''t think the ppl who made my ring were trying to cover anything up, I just think it was a nice way to finish the edge.

LIBmilgrain02.jpg
 

chrono

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LiB,
I love that the milgrain on your ring is so very fine and delicate. And EVEN!
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decodelighted

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Superfine milgrain does NOT draw attention to the metal IMO ... it sparkles just like diamonds & therefore blends the whole look (pave) into one sparkly mass. The mirror effect of polished metal is what draws the eye & contrasts with the more delicate minute sparkles of pave. Milgrain is a texture. It''s like piping on your shirt or couch. You either like it or you don''t but it''s CERTAINLY not akin to COLUMNS stuck onto a STEEL building!

Also ... "handwrought" does not mean "perfect".
 

pyramid

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Love in Bloom yes the milligrain on your ring looks lovely, and in keeping with the central design.
 

Love in Bloom

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Date: 6/20/2007 11:48:43 AM
Author: diamondseeker2006

Yes, exactly. Does she want a plain a-line silk wedding dress with no pearls, lace, embroidery, etc.? Some people may like very simple but elegant designs with no frills at all. In that case I might go with a non-pave setting altogether.
I totally agree! That is definitely something to take into consideration. I think pave is BEAUTIFUL, but not everyone's cup of tea. Have you seen Leon's non paved work?? Looks just as incredible to me from the pics posted here...

OH and thanks Chrono and Pyramid!
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Gypsy

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The setting I''m (hopefully) getting for my asscher has a very fine millgrain on it that I love. I think it makes the peice a little ''deco'' in feel-- which matches the history of the cut. Sheldon Speyer is the designer and he is not cheap nor is his work shoddy. The milgrain is the design element.

It matches the feel I want to for the setting.. clean lines with a deco feel.
 

pyramid

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Date: 6/20/2007 12:30:52 PM
Author: decodelighted
Superfine milgrain does NOT draw attention to the metal IMO ... it sparkles just like diamonds & therefore blends the whole look (pave) into one sparkly mass. The mirror effect of polished metal is what draws the eye & contrasts with the more delicate minute sparkles of pave. Milgrain is a texture. It''s like piping on your shirt or couch. You either like it or you don''t but it''s CERTAINLY not akin to COLUMNS stuck onto a STEEL building!

Also ... ''handwrought'' does not mean ''perfect''.

So true Deco, it does sparkle more like diamond giving of individual lights rather than a polished whole surface, I never thought of that.

True of handwrought also, different levels of skill, expense, museum quality etc.
 

Ellen

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Date: 6/20/2007 12:30:52 PM
Author: decodelighted
Superfine milgrain does NOT draw attention to the metal IMO ... it sparkles just like diamonds & therefore blends the whole look (pave) into one sparkly mass. The mirror effect of polished metal is what draws the eye & contrasts with the more delicate minute sparkles of pave. Milgrain is a texture. It''s like piping on your shirt or couch. You either like it or you don''t but it''s CERTAINLY not akin to COLUMNS stuck onto a STEEL building!

Also ... ''handwrought'' does not mean ''perfect''.
Yes. Here''s a pic of fine milligrain lit up in the sun. All those tiny colored dots are the milligrain. It can REALLY add sparkle!

Milllit1.JPG
 

Love in Bloom

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Oh Ellen!
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surfgirl

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Ellen, great photo explanation! I think if you''re not sure if you should have millegrain, you should involve your future FI in the decision. Ultimately, the woman has to wear the ring for life, so I always think it''s better to have her input. It''s easy to take her shopping to look at things and see what she prefers. Millegraining is a personal preference. I wouldn''t try to over intellectualize it, it''s just aesthetics in the end, and which elements the wearer prefers.
 

Ellen

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sg, thanks. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.
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Love, isn''t it just??!
 

Love in Bloom

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Ellen - is that the one with the repair probs?? Did you get it back already??
 

fanboy

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Thanks for all the opinions, everyone.

Re involving my girlfriend: as I've pointed out before, I'm doing the design of the ring, per her own request. I understand that people think this is silly, but that's just an unmovable premise we're working from.

For context with regard to my question: the original idea for the ring was to do a three-sided micro-pave band, but Leon suggested I consider doing three-sided bright-cut pave with an edge to go along with the Royal Asscier diamond I'm using. If if go with the micro-pave band, than milgrain isn't an issue since there will be no metal edge. But if I go the bright-cut pave path, then there will be an edge, and milgrain becomes a consideration.

I'm sure Leon--or any competant jeweler--could do the edge without any flaws, so it's not an issue of needing the milgrain. It's an issue of whether milgrain has any aesthetic value outside of its reference to antique, art deco, period, etc., jewelry. I don't particularly care if it happens to recall such things, I care if that's its only real purpose.

As someone's pointed out, milgrain can help metal blend in with the pave. I can certainly appreciate that, as well as the way milgrain can sparkle under light.

I always intellectualize things; that's how I make decisions about design. My girlfriend knows this quite well and that's partially why she says trusts me with designing her ring. In the sense that we both like thinking about design elements, analyzing how milgrain works as part of a ring is part of my service to her preferences.
 

Ellen

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Date: 6/20/2007 1:13:01 PM
Author: Love in Bloom
Ellen - is that the one with the repair probs?? Did you get it back already??
Yes, that''s the one.
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And no, it hasn''t even made it to the jewelers yet. If it doesn''t get delivered today, I''m calling the PO.
 
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