Tag Archives: processes

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 3

smithing – creation of a pair of gemstone and sterling silver earrings

Lots of people like to know the process behind the creations I produce, and I sometimes forget – just because I know how I do this, doesn’t mean everyone does! These lovely dangly gemstone earrings were a wedding gift from my friend and client Natasha to a dear friend of hers.

Natasha found these sparkly amethyst, Rose de France and aquamarine rose cut cabochons in my gemstone collection.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 1

First I shaped the bezels.  A bezel is the part that goes around the stone and holds it in place on the piece. I take a strip of silver, bend it into shape with my half round pliers, and solder the join. Once the bezels have been immersed in pickle (an acid solution) to remove the buildup of borax and the oxidisation, I rinse and dry them and hammer them into shape with a mallet on my ring mandrel.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 2

I solder the bezels onto a silver backing plate. After I pickle, file and emery the bezel settings, I check that the stones all fit nicely into their little housings.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 4

Then it’s time to add some links to join the bezels together. I create the links, line them up and solder them on.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 5

I add the ear wires. As always, I am amazed that something that looks so unappealing will soon become something beautiful!

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 6

After some more cleaning up, I mount the earrings in sealing wax to hold them still while I set the stones with my engraving ball and chasing hammer.

Three Gemstone Earrings Creation 7

After yet more emerying and finishing, the earrings are ready to go off to their new home!

Amethyst, Rose de France and Aquamarine Sterling Silver Earrings

In case you want more, I have written before herehere here and here about my processes. Happy reading!

smithing – handcrafting a sterling silver spiral chain

The process of creating is sometimes more intricate than you might think when looking at the final object, so I thought we’d take a look at how chain is handmade.

To start, I use some lengths of wire (which is made by rolling a block of silver repeatedly in the same direction through a rolling mill, until it is thin enough to draw through a draw-plate down to the right dimension).


Making a sterling silver chain


After annealing the wire (a process where the wire is heated to a dark red to line the molecules up, making the silver malleable), I pickle it, by placing the metal in an acid solution to remove any oxidisation, dirt, or flux.


Handcrafting Sterling Silver Drusy Ring 003


I then wrap it around a steel post of a suitable diameter (this tool is called a jump ring maker, and comes with steel posts of varying widths).


Making a sterling silver chain


Once the wire is wrapped into shape, I remove it from the steel rod.


Making a sterling silver chain


I saw each link with a jeweller’s saw.


Making a sterling silver chain


Each link is individually created.


Making a sterling silver chain


After a tidy up of the links if required, I join them together, in this case in a specific mathematical combination. (I love how science, maths and creativity collide!)


Making a sterling silver chain


Once all the links are joined, I make sure the chain is the correct length.


Making a sterling silver chain


Then I solder each link closed. Yes, each and every link! In this case, that means around two hundred and eighty links to be made, joined and soldered individually.


Making a sterling silver chain


Once that is complete, the final links are added which join the chain together in a specific way to create the spiral effect. Then it’s back in the pickle for another bath, followed by some time in the tumbler, to polish and harden the chain. (I’ll post about my tumbler another day, I promise!)


Sterling Silver Twisted Chain


The finished product is quite spectacular, IMHO. You can see more pics of this twisted spiral chain technique being used here and here. I love what I do!