Making of an Egyptian pendant ankh cross
Egypt is home to the remains of one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.
She left us the pyramids, the hieroglyphs as well as a multitude of jewels and artifacts in gold having a religious symbolism.
Among these symbols, the Egyptian cross is certainly the best known.
It is also called Ankh or cross of life and its symbol is still used for making jewelry and pendants as evidenced by this gold Ankh pendant from our own collection.
Other Egyptian symbols have influenced the Greek and Roman civilization, including the snake.
Egyptian pendant cross of life showing the different religious symbols Egyptians
For this project, our goal was to create a life cross pendant with different strong symbols of ancient Egyptian history:
- The cobra, a symbol of divine and royal protection (read more here)
- The eye of Horus, a symbol of luck and good health
- The beetle carved in lapis lazuli stone is the symbol of the future, the future
- Maat's pen, Maat being the goddess of the order and balance of the world
We invite you to discover the many stages of manufacture of this jewel as well as its long, but fascinating manufacture.
- Design of the pendant
- The making
- Ankh cross making
- Silver cobra making
- Beetle carving in lapis lazuli stone
- Feather of Maat carving in venturine stone
- Horus eye making
- Final assembly of the pendant
The design of the cross and the snake
The design of this pendant is complex.
An Egyptian cross of wood of 80 millimeters high on which is rolled a cobra in solid silver.
The cobra must be set with two carnelian stones at the level of its collar and accommodate a feather Maat carved stone venturine between the windings of his body.
The arms of the cross of life hold on the left the eye of Horus in 18-carat yellow gold and on the right a beetle carved in lapis lazuli stone.
That makes us 5 design elements before we can start manufacturing.
This project is complex not only because of the number of elements constituting the pendant, but mainly because it will be necessary to work the wood, to model in CAD, to print in 3D, to make the snake by the process of casting with the wax lost, carve and carve stones.
Of course none of these stones are available on the market and we have had to cut ourselves in our workshop to get exactly the correct stones in shapes and sizes.
It was a long and difficult project that we are proud to have been able to lead 100% in our workshop.
After studying the project, we decided that:
- The cross of life would be made of cocobolo wood in 3 assembled pieces
- The snake would be modeled in 3D, printed in 3D then produced by the process of casting with the lost wax
- The eye of Horus would be made in 18K gold anklet with a silver base
- The stones would all be hand cut in our workshop
Manufacturing of the different parts of the pendant
As explained, the snake had to be made by 3D modeling, having to fit perfectly with the wooden cross and present many details (scales, eyes ...).
To do this last, we first had to represent the whole pendant in 3D modeling.
Once the digital model has been validated by the sponsor, we know all the dimensions of the different elements to manufacture to ensure a perfect fit.
So we can start making the Egyptian cross of life in wood.
Making or the wooden egytpian cross of life
To make this last, we left a piece of raw cocobolo wood that we had to cut then to put in shape.
The different pieces are cut in the mass in order to remove shavings and give shape to the pieces of the cross of life.
View of the different pieces of the cross of life before adjustments of the pieces between them
Each piece is then adjusted and then assembled on a metal shaft passing through the main body of the wooden pendant.
Once the assembly finalized, the handle of the cross of life is then engraved in the same way of the 3D modeling presented above.
Gloves are used to not mark the wood, which remains a living organic material that can stain with soiling and sweat.
Finished wooden egyptian cross
Making of the silver snake
The manufacture of the cobra began at the time of the realization of the digital model of the complete pendant.
We then use the 3D model of the cobra for the rest of the making.
View of the CAO model of the snake alone
This CAO model is sent on a 3D printer which will allow us to obtain a master wade of wax of our snake, identical to that to sculpt on the computer.
This wax master is used to make a refractory plaster mold and get the piece in solid silver by the lost wax casting process.
View of cobra snake in raw silver foundry
We obtain a faithful reproduction in sterling silver of our virtual model of snake seen above.
Carving of scarab and feather of Maat
Stone carving is not our primary activity.
Nevertheless, when it comes to making cabochons or carving stones that do not exist in the trade, we carry out these operations internally.
Making of the lapis lazuli scarab
For this sculpture, we started from a rough block of lapis-lazuli stone.
View of different qualities of rough lapis lazuli stones. This stone was very popular with Egyptians for making jewels and amulets.
A fragment of lapis lazuli is attached to a waist support with jeweler's wax.
The carving process will be complicated because the scarab is only 6 millimeters high.
The general forms of the beetle are first drawn before starting the cutting work with a diamond bur.
The body contour of the beetle is carved before starting the detail work to represent the head of the beetle.
We then appreciate the final rendering.
We can appreciate here the carved beetle removed from its support before fixing it on its support in silver.
Carving of the feather of Maat in venturine stone
The making of the feather of Maat is similar to the making of the beetle.
A piece of rough stone of venturine is cut and then shaped by successive cuts with a diamond saw.
Many adjustments are necessary so that it fits perfectly in its housing on the silver snake.
Once the forms and exterior dimensions are good, the stone is detailed in the upper part to give it its feather aspect.
This video shows the different steps in the size of the stone to obtain the feather of Maat.
Horus eye making
Horus eye in 18K gold is made from a yellow gold laminated plate.
The eye pattern is glued on to serve as a cutting guide.
Once finished, the Horus eye is welded to a thick silver plate that will itself be cut according to the contours of Horus's eye.
This plate will serve as a support to fix this Egyptian symbol on the wood of the cross of life.
Assembly and finishes
Once ready, the different pieces of our pendant are assembled and retouched then the pendant is carefully polished to give this final result.
View of the pendant on a bust showing the wealth of details and all the sculpture work done on the jewel.
Detail view of Egyptian symbols gathered on the pendant
Here are some other creations of Egyptian inspired jewelry made in our workshop: