Valentine's Day Custom Heart Jewelry for the Wife; Silver, Burled Walnut, Crushed Turquoise Inlay

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 02-18-2009 10:45 PM 3013 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After many years of giving my wife woodworking gifts for presents for days like Valentine’s Day, she’s sort of tired of them. I can tell in the first “look” when she opens something whether it’s a hit, or not. I have almost given up, to be honest, and between you and me.

This year, on the evening of the 13th, I was worrying over what to do.

The options were getting pretty slim, with an 80 mile round trip to Walmart, or a 40 mile round trip to the Convenience Store/Gas Station. I can get some great gifts at those two stores, all made in China, and I have over the years. But, I’m always questioned pretty hard during the “opening” about, ”...what did you do, just go to the Gas Station again this year…?

So, with 16 previous years of unappreciated gifts, and out of time this year, I sort of painted myself into a pickle spot, so to speak.

I try to be romantic, really I do, and I have made quite a few things that I thought she would really like. My mom has sort of a “Mark’s Shrine” in her house of all the things that I’ve made for her over years, but most of the things I’ve given my wife, she couldn’t even find these days.

One of those previous year’s attempts resulted in a carved Welsh-Style Love Spoon, and after posting it on Lumberjocks, I actually got mention in a book on romantic expressions of love in 2008, called “The Best Sex Ever.” I haven’t talked much about that book inclusion, for obvious reasons, and for the fact that my wife says I don’t have a romantic bone in my body. Needless to say, despite the book’s title, the Love Spoon didn’t produce what I hoped it would.

But, I do try, really I do.

Ok, what to do this Year?
I took some silversmithing classes in 2008, so I decided that a custom made piece of Jewelry was the key for this year’s gift. Silversmithing Jewelry is really quite a fun process to do, and in a couple of hours, you can walk in the house with a completed gift. Which is something I can’t do with wood. Nothing I make in wood can be started and completed in two hours.

I made her a Ring last year for Mother’s Day, which got another big “yawn”, and so I was hoping maybe a heart necklace would work this time. Afterall, I’m a guy, and I guess I don’t know what a woman likes.

So, this year I decided to try again, and use a piece of burled walnut with an unusual open Knot that I have been saving for a special occasion. I crushed up a turquoise stone, and inlayed them in the open Knot, thus the strange natural looking shape of the inlay. Then I cut the heart to shape, filed and sanded it smooth, and prepped it for insertion in a piece of silver jewelry.

To make the jewelry piece, I used a fancy bezel in Fine Silver, and hand peened a base plate out of Sterling Silver. I set up and soldered the pieces, adding a Hoop on the back for a chain, and polished it with my Dremel and some polishing compound.

I really thought that a Necklace would be the “trick this year, since I bought the Wife a piece of Jai Johnson's Jewelry off of Etsy for my wife’s Birthday. She just loves the necklace from Jai, and wear’s it all the time, and really appreciated the gift for once. But, as I was reminded, one success doesn’t equal a “romantic guy.”

I was pretty proud of my work actually, and wrote up a long dripping-with-love Poem and created my own special Valentine’s Day card on the computer. After her response upon opening, I’m headed back to the Gas Station for a gift next year, or will just buy another item from Jai.

I’ve learned my lesson now.

thanks for reading along,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

12 comments so far

View rookster's profile


67 posts in 5031 days

#1 posted 02-18-2009 11:18 PM

She didn’t love it? I guess as another guy I’m not qualified to be surprised, but I am. I’m also impressed, as always, with your creativity and execution.

Thanks for sharing it.

-- Rookster, (

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5286 days

#2 posted 02-18-2009 11:20 PM

Thanks Rookster, I can cry on your shoulder at least. I’ve been thinking about sanding off the inscription on the back to sell the thing on Etsy, maybe someone else’s wife would like it.

still considering that one,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 4408 days

#3 posted 02-19-2009 12:14 AM

Wow, this is an open heart project story. Sounds kind of sad. :( I don’t think any store bought item would make any better of an ending. I think your ingenuity is outstanding and the care for making a special piece for a special someone is too much for a macho guy like me to comment on (sniff), anyway , cool project , looks great.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View Beaverwood's profile


49 posts in 4273 days

#4 posted 02-19-2009 12:32 AM

I have to say, its a nice piece of jewelry and I also dabble in jewelry making. However from one shop guy to another, you have to realize going to the shop can kind of be like going to a mistress. Its all good at first then she becomes weary then down rite resentful and finally a evil enemy of the shop. Now for us its hard to understand since its our blood,sweat and tears going into each piece showing our love…Right? Well to them we are not giving them the type attention they are in need of and usually they dont want to discourage creativity. So basically when the mistress gets in there face they fight back. I have been in your situation and have learned to farm out my time to all involved wife, kids and dog…they all need attention. Unfortunatly the shop sees a bit more idle time but at least its still there waiting to nurture my next project. The thing about buying another artists work is usually a good way to knock it out of the park because its special one of a kind thing and she didnt have to sacrifice any of her time to pay for it in advance…....

-- Dave, North Dakota,

View Karson's profile


35227 posts in 5281 days

#5 posted 02-19-2009 01:46 AM

Looks great Mark. But I guess it was not correct.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19688 posts in 4556 days

#6 posted 02-19-2009 02:02 AM

After all, men are from Mars and women are from Venus ;-)) I think I’d just get her vacuum cleaners & ironing boards, ect from now on if she doesn’t like it. Yoiu can’t win anyway!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View WoodSpanker's profile


560 posts in 4272 days

#7 posted 02-19-2009 02:49 AM

It is a truly lovely necklace… I don’t understand why she didn’t like it. Sorry bout that. But at least you created a unique and lovely piece of jewelry.

-- Adventure? Heh! Excitement? Heh! A Woodworker craves not these things!

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4311 days

#8 posted 02-19-2009 03:57 AM

Beautiful piece of art! Not only do I love it, but my wife was behind me and made me zoom the pics to get a better look. She loves it also. Keep up the great work!

-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View mmh's profile


3680 posts in 4603 days

#9 posted 02-19-2009 07:38 AM

Awwwwh. You mean she didn’t love it?! How could she not, after all of your hard work and thoughtfulness? I think she may need a poke in the posterior, as she’s sounds like the unromantic one here. What a Bop Head. (Sorry, I’m upset.)

Maybe we can do a trade of goods. I used to make beaded gemstone jewelry and I also have some gold & semi-precious gemstone faceted jewelry that I sell.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5286 days

#10 posted 02-19-2009 03:14 PM

Thanks for the encouragement folks. Any good marriage counselor would remind us all that there are two sides to every story, and the Wife didn’t tell her side, and I hope she never does. I earned this situation I’m in a little more than 15 years ago, and I’m still working my way out of it. Most wives would have sent me packing at the time, and she nearly did. Only by the Grace of God, and my hard work and on going changes, have I been allowed to continue this Covenant. So, eventhough the gift making situation is pretty frustrating to figure out, I’m a blessed guy, heading toward anniversary number 17 this summer.

And as Dave Ramsey (financial guy on the radio) would say, “I’m better than I deserve.”


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5127 days

#11 posted 02-20-2009 02:09 PM

I totally know what you mean Pal. It’s been 33 yrs. for me and I still don’t know why she puts up with me. If it was the other way around I’d a been gone long ago. I’m like you said a “blessed guy” we’re lucky we got em still. They say we’re forgiven but they still jab every once in a while just a reminder. From someone else that turned his life around. God Bless and keep on counting those Blessings. m PS as always a beautiful necklace.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 4950 days

#12 posted 02-21-2009 05:03 PM

I was flipping thru the projects page not paying attention to who posted and just noticed this piece and was like wow ! I have to check this project out closer should have known it was made by your “multi Talented” hands.Anyway I’m surprised she did not love it ,I’m sure she apprectiated the effort. I have to say I am very lucky my wife thinks Valentines is too commercial.She has kind of gotten used to the idea that I’m not a great gift giver.I guess that’s not really a good thing!!!!Although for our 20th I traded a high end jewler six dining chairs for matching his and her rings.They were more $$$ than I would ever dreamed of spending but thank goodness for bartering. Anyway I think it’s a GREAT project and I bet there is a good market for this.Keep up the awesome work !!!

-- Scott NM,

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