My friend Patrick's wife Yukari recently received a new kidney from one of her sisters. Patrick wanted to surprise them after the transplant with matching necklaces to commemorate the occasion, and was interested in something elegant yet kidney-themed, but not too Tiffany. Neither of us are particulary subtle, but a biologically-accurate depiction of a kidney was too much even for us.
After throwing some ideas around we settled on using Petoskey stone, which is a fossilized coral from the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan. In addition to being beautiful, it was appropriate for two reasons: Patrick and Yukari had previously lived at the opposite end of Lake Michigan in Chicago, and because—I remind you that neither of us are particularly subtle—both corals and kidneys are filters. While shaping the stone, I carved one thick slab into the kidney shape and sawed it in half for the two necklaces, so the patterns in the two stones are book-matched to each other. Finally, I set them in rose gold to compliment and enhance the Petoskey stone's naturally greenish tinge.
Over a month into the design and manufacturing process and about a week and a half before the operation, Yukari—oblivious to Patrick's upcoming surprise—emailed me herself to let me know about the transplant and to ask if I had any ideas for a kidney-themed necklace (stop me if this sounds familiar) that was not too Tiffany, because she and her sister already had the sterling silver Elsa Peretti® Bean® (which I had not known when I created the design). I demurred and said that I was a bit busy at the moment, but would love to work with her after she had recovered from surgery. You gotta admit, for Patrick to come up with the same design parameters a month earlier makes him one heck of a husband.