Wednesday 29 November 2017

Painting for Louise


here is another of the paintings I did for Louise.

This is a Nuthatch.

Until next time


Wednesday 22 November 2017

Gemmeus, the trouble with rings


I do not often indulge in rants, but I need to get this one off my chest.

I will not buy from Gemmeus again. I certainly won't employ Nicky Wade of Gemmeus to make a custom order.

I advise all my friends to avoid using her.

If you like what she has made all may be fine- BUT IF YOU DON'T....

Read on

It so happened that, soon after Teddy and I decided to get married, we were at a re-enactors' market and I saw a ring I quite liked on Gemmeus' s stall. It was a medieval votive ring set with a Sapphire, with a payer in Latin incised round the outside.

I had decided to buy it when one of our friends saw me there and ask if it was THE ring.

This led on to a conversation with Nicky about how much it would cost if it was a fully gold ring, rather than plated and to Teddy looking through her books to see if he could find a ring he liked.

He settled on an Anglo-Saxon ring with a braided band, set with a stone in the middle of the band.  He likes it because the stone was in the middle of the band and did not protrude to either side of the band, and the rest of the decoration was fairly flat to the surface of the ring so there was little to catch on anything (a source of annoyance with rings in the past)

After further discussion, we ordered the rings.

My ring was ready first and I discovered that Nicky had (without consulting me) changed the stone to iolite (another blue stone). She said that Sapphire just looked black in the setting.

Now, I had really wanted a sapphire (as it's the stone worn by bishops) but decided that I was content with the change when she told me that iolite is also known as Water Sapphire

The trouble started when Teddy's ring arrived.

The stone setting protruded to either side of the band, other details were in different proportions to the original ring - the raised edges of the band was absent, the other decoration stood proud of the surface instead of being flat on it, so it didn’t look at all like the original it was based on and Teddy didn't like it.

I should mention that I had paid for Teddy's ring and he had paid for mine.

Now, the normal procedure in these circumstances is to ring the supplier, agree to return the goods to be altered, or to return the goods and to be fully reimbursed.

When, Teddy rang Nicky, however, she reacted by bursting into tears and complained that she couldn't afford to buy more gold right now, then hang-up the phone down on him, and not pick up when he called her back.

She called back some time later claiming her ‘phone had run out of charge.  By now, Teddy (who was getting nowhere) passed the phone to me and I attempted to calm her down and reason with her. She found fault with every suggestion of how she might alter the ring and, having apparently dismissed this as an option, made no offer of reimbursement.

I decided to try to be nice to her (more fool me) and said when we returned the ring she need not pay us back immediately, but could sell it on our behalf and pay me the proceeds when it sold.  She, very reluctantly, agreed, telling me that it might take a little time for the ring to sell. I think most people would agree that I was being quite generous in this arrangement.

She clearly did not care at all that the ring in question was meant to be Teddy's wedding ring and, hence, something he was planning to wear for the rest of his life.

Most reasonable people would agree that you have to feel right about and be happy and content with that particular piece of jewelry.

Still, I sent the ring back to her and she acknowledged receipt.

From that time on, I often saw her stall at markets.  I do not recall a single time that I saw the ring displayed.  Generally that was some excuse as to why it wasn't there, including a time when she said she had a buyer.  She was always short with me when I asked about it and , after some time, I just looked and noted and didn't speak to her.

Then, in July, I decided I'd had enough.  It was at least two years later and she had,  apparently, made little effort to sell the ring.  I felt that if she had both the ring and my money then she was effectively using me like some sort of loan for her business.

I emailed her via her website asking for the ring back and, a little later she responded saying she would send it in two weeks.

A month later I had not received the ring, so I emailed again asking if she had sent the ring and, if so, when.  I did this both replying to her reply and via her website.  I received no reply to either of these enquiries.

Finally, I rang her, asking if she was having trouble with e-mail,  and she told me that her email was working and that she had replied (which I think meant that she considered her first reply sufficient).  She said she been busy with shows and that she would send the ring.

Eventually, we came back one evening to find a message on the answerphone to say that the ring had been sent by courier and would either arrive on Saturday or on Monday 2 October.

A courier delivered a package on Saturday.

BUT when we opened it - IT WAS NOT THE SAME RING!

It was a gold Anglo-Saxon a ring in the same style, set with the right stone, but the stone and it’s setting were smaller (not protruding either side of the band), and the ring itself was a smaller size.  It wouldn’t fit Teddy at all.

I have lost two and a half stone in weight since the wedding and my wedding ring is now quite loose on my finger. Teddy has big finger joints and his ring was at least as big as mine, if not slightly bigger.  The ring we originally received, for all its faults, was at least the right size. 

I can JUST fit the replacement ring on the second finger of my right hand, but it's tight and very difficult to get off again.

Second, as this isn't the same ring, she must have sold the first one and NOT SENT ME THE MONEY as she had agreed.

I think she was hoping that I'd forgotten about it, or had written it off, or that she could just go on saying 'No' if I asked if she'd sold the ring. That way she could keep the proceeds from selling it twice.

When I asked for it back, she realised that, either she'd have to admit she'd sold it and send me the money, or she'd have to make a replacement and assume I'd not know the difference.

All in all, I would have preferred to have the money back, but clearly, it was cheaper for her to make another ring. This suggests that she got a significant price for the first ring.

This theory is borne out by the two month gap between her first saying she'd send the ring back and my receipt of the new ring.

Anyway, I am now going to either have to try to sell this new ring, or try to get it stretched larger so I can get some use form it by wearing it myself.

As a consequence of this sorry saga, we will never do business with her again.

Customer service is a closed book to her and she has such contempt for her customers that she does not think she has to consult them about changes to their orders, or that she had to make any alterations reasonably requested by them.

Nor does she think she should have to give peoples their money back if they return goods she has changed the specs for, or failed to make like the source picture, or if there is any other fault with the piece.

She also seems to think that they won't remember what a particular ring looks like and thus can substitute a similar ring with impunity.

Finally, I know for a fact that I'm not the only person she has treated like this.

Right, cathartic rant over; warning given.

Take heed.

Until next time


Wednesday 15 November 2017

More paintings for Louise


I have recently visited my friend Louise in Bristol and she commissioned me to do some more paintings on the walls of one of the bedrooms in her house.

This is a Marsh Fritillary

I will post the others anon.

until next time


Wednesday 8 November 2017



Here is a study that might soon be used on one of my book bags.

Until next time


Wednesday 1 November 2017

Heraldic achievement


I like to keep my heraldic art skills up and running and sometimes design new versions of  coats I have blazoned in the past.

Here is a new version of the Bishop's arms.

I am particularly pleased with the balance between the helm and the mitre and crosier.

I also included the bishop's papal dispensation to use a sword on the upper scroll.

The bishop's family  motto ( "seize the prize") is on the lower scroll.

Until next time