of Gold gifts, Jewellery and Souvenirs
8a Lydiard St North, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
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Tuesday 28th Feb, 6:37pm
The Southern Cross, nugget pendant
I have made a solid 9 ct yellow gold cross, with 5 natural gold nuggets in the form of the star constellation known as the “Southern Cross.”
To the early gold miners on the Ballarat goldfields the Southern Cross constellation was unique as it can not be seen from the countries they had mostly come from. It reminded them that they were in a new country and that this country was full of hopes for freedom and wealth. In 1854 dissent occurred on the Ballarat goldfields and things rapidly became worst.
Several ‘minor’ events took place, one of which was the meeting of miners at Bakery Hill in Ballarat where they publicly burned their Miners Licences in from of government authorities, and they swore an oath, ‘beneath the Southern Cross to stand true to each other’. A short time later the military and police under cover of darkness on a Sunday morning left their barracks and made the journey to the Eureka Lead, where the miners had formed a Stockade and were passively being defiant to the authorities. As the centre of the Stockade the miners flew a huge flag, created by the women of the goldfields, representing the Southern Cross. This flag was a rally point, and flew in direct opposition to the British Union Jack. The miners were being defiant flying this flag, but they had had enough of poor representation, high taxing in the form of incredibly high Miners Licence fees and conditions, abuse by local governmental authorities, and generally being treated in a tyrannical manner.
The Soldiers and Police attacked and blood was spilt under the Southern Cross. Miners and Authoritarian Militia’s lost men, but the police and soldiers came through the stockade, and the ranks of the diggers and bayoneted wounded miners to death.
After the short battle, a trial of survivors took place, and due in part to the media and public pressure the miners were not hung for treason, but were released. The miners who rallied under the Southern Cross and collectively fought the government of the time won rights that were just and a greater level of fairness resulted. Today the Southern Cross represents a lot of things to a lot of people. It defines us as Australians, it defines ‘a fair go’, it lets government not take the populations wishes for granted, and it reminds us of ordinary people who risked and lost their lives in this ‘new’ country, to make it a better country.
When I make one of these Southern Cross pendants, using nuggets found by modern day gold prospectors, I am reminded of what went before us, and that we can (and do) still find gold nuggets on our local goldfields. When I look up into the night sky and see the Southern Cross stars, I know that it ‘can’t be torn down’.
The way I make my Southern Cross nugget pendant is innovative. I have had to design a formation that depicts the Southern Cross, (all 5 stars) in a way that they appear in the sky. To do this I use round 9ct yellow gold wire and curve it. To join the different lengths together I use a state of the art Laser Welder, that uses a laser beam that I can focus down to 0.2mm to weld or melt the wires together. This manufacturing process is really wonderful, as the laser light does not take the temper of the 9ct wire, like a traditional jewellers torch and flame would do. Using the laser maintains the strength of the wire. You will notice that under the 4 large nugget ‘stars’ I have welded a round jump ring into place. This is to create a strong and sound termination mount for the large nuggets. I have placed the small 5th nugget star on the join of the cross, once again for extra strength.
The way I have designed my laser nugget Southern Cross pendant is to that it is vibrant, it looks like it has movement, and at the same time it defines what it is. An Australian symbol of identity, heritage and appreciation of freedoms hard won.