I remembered that my phone has a camera, so while I was working the other day, I snapped a few photos to show you the process of making a piece of jewerly.
To start, I had intended to make this druzy stone into a bracelet paired with the spotted druzy below.
I started with the top stone. The first setting failed, so I started from scratch to make it again. It failed again in the same way! That darned stone did NOT want to be in a bracelet with the spotted druzy. Here are the first two failed settings.
I put the pesky stone away for a few days to let it think about things. After I let it stew a while, I pulled out a citrine and it loved it! So I fired up the torch and this time the setting went like butter.
Here's the design of the new piece with part of the structure finished and all of the stones talking.
Now on to creating the setting for the citrine. First, I make the bezel - the part of silver that wraps around the stone. I shape it to fit within a millimeter around the stone.
I make the bezels out of fine silver, which is .999 pure silver. It's a little softer and more malleable than sterling silver, so it shapes better around the stones when I set them.
Then I set the bezel onto a piece of sterling silver and mark where it needs to be cut.
After I cut the silver, I put my maker's mark on the back. I use these stamps and a hammer. The stamps are my initials "SJ" and ".925" - sterling silver is .925 pure silver, which is why it's stamped that way. I add a "14K" stamp when I'm using gold.
The 122 is the gauge of this particular sheet of silver. This one is 22 gauge. I don't know why they put a "1" in front of the 22. The magic marker burns off when I solder the bezel to the backing.
Then I fire up the torch to solder the bezel to the flat backing. Dag nab it. It didn't work! See the split at the right on the bezel? The fire was too hot, so it opened up the first solder seam. Again, this is rare for me these days. Usually everything goes without any hiccups.
We had to have another discussion. I talked to the citrine stone and basically said, "You guys have to get along. I'm sick of these shenanigans." So the citrine listened and I was able to fix it without starting over.
The next step is to trim the excess silver from around the bezel. I use metal shears to do this.
This gives a rough cut. I move over to the grinding/polishing station to grind off the rough edge.
Before I run any of these tools, I suit up with a respirator and ear protection. I also run a powerful small dust collector along with my studio ventilation system.
I take off my glasses to fit the filter mask, but there is a plastic shield on the dust collector which shields any flying particles. (Did you notice the peek-a-boo shoulders in my dress?)
Here it is after grinding off the excess metal. Nice and smooth
The gloves are necessary because the metal gets super hot during the process and the rotary grinders sometimes slip.
Here's the piece after all soldering is finished. It's ready for the pickle pot.
The pickle pot is a solution that removes the flux and gunk that gets onto the silver during the firing process. I have mine in a slow cooker to keep it warm. It works faster warm.
Now, after the pickle it's ready for a preliminary polish before setting stones.
Finally, I set the stones, give a final polish and take a nice photo for the website. Ta da!
Click the photo to see (or buy) the finished piece on my website. :)