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Orion, Betelgeuse, and a Shooting Star

How a uniquely personal story became an exquisite piece of custom jewelry

It was a cool October evening in 2011 and my wife, Renee, and I were sitting on the back lanai facing east. We had only just started dating and still getting to know each other. As we sat and chatted, we both noticed the constellation Orion above the trees behind the house.

It was a clear evening and each of its stars was shining brightly, one of the brightest stars, the one known as Betelgeuse, is classified as a red supergiant star, which means that at some point in the next 100,000 years, it is expected to explode and light up the night sky in a spectacular supernova. It's also why that one star in Orion gives off a reddish hue.

So there we were, Renee and I, gazing up at Orion and enjoying each other's company when a shooting star blazed a path right across the middle of the constellation! We both said, whoa, at the same time. Renee asked, “Did you see that?”

“Wow,” I said. “That was spectacular!” It was one of those unforgettable moments that gave us both a story we like to tell people, especially when they ask how we met and how we knew we were meant to be together.

I was thinking about that story while trying to decide what special gift I could give Renee for her birthday in July. So I decided to commemorate the moment with a custom-designed necklace showing the constellation with the shooting star.

I visited with Dustin Brake, manager and lead designer at Victoria Jewelers in Baldwin Park. First, I showed him a sketch of the idea and told him the story behind it. I had never worked with a jeweler to create something like this and wasn't sure if it was possible or how the process would work.

Dustin immediately got excited and his passion for his work was obvious.

“It was such an interesting idea, especially with the story that went with it,” he said. “I really enjoyed hearing the story and knowing we'd be able to bring the thought to life creatively. It's a lot of fun to work on a project that has such a personal meaning for the person who gets to wear it.”

There was some back and forth between us as we talked about what the necklace would be made of and what kind of stones would be used. In the end, we decided on white gold with all the stars represented by diamonds except for Betelgeuse, which is a ruby, Renee’s birthstone. The shooting star is also white gold and was designed to move along the support between two of the stars.

When it was finished, Dustin shared with me that It was a huge topic of conversation at Victoria Jewelers.

“Part of what we do is that we share in everything,” he said. “We all work together as a big team, really like a family, and we talked a lot about how cool and unique here it is and what an amazing story there was behind it. To be able to be as passionate as we are and really get attached to why we are building this, what are we celebrating, is so rewarding and it echoes throughout the store.”

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The process started with a sketch of what I wanted the necklace to look like. When I sat down with Dustin, we also pulled up some online images of the Orion constellation.

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After some back and forth on the design details, Victoria Jewelers created a wax mold of the pendant.

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Dustin then placed the stones in the wax model so we could really start to see the piece takes shape.

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From there, the wax model was used to create a mold for the white gold. Then, their master jeweler worked on the fine details and polishing.

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Finally, after a process that had started about six weeks earlier, I was able to wish Renee a happy birthday and give her a uniquely personal gift from the heart!

About Victoria Jewelers

Victoria Jewelers was established in 1987 and has been a family-owned business for over 35 years. They are a destination store, drawing people from all areas of town, a testament to their unmatched craftsmanship and outstanding customer service. In addition to fine custom-designed jewelry, they offer several designer lines and an impressive collection of engagement rings.

Located at 4845 New Broad Street in Baldwin Park. For more information, call 407-895-0047 or visit their website at victoriajewelers.net.