Attaching Shell to Sterling

Hello Everyone!

I have just finished fabricating a 1" oval shadow box type pendant
to house a small sea shell which has been sanded down on both sides
to expose the intricate inside.

My question is… what is the best way to secure the shell to the
sterling? What is the best adhesive that will continue to hold over

There is a beautiful example in the Spring 2004 Metalsmith on page
35. Sandra Enterline created “Queen Bee Brooch” and has encased a
Queen Bee under glass.

Thanks for your help!
Pam in Muggy Massachusetts


Hard to say what adhesive would be best without actually being able
to see your pendant design, but I have had many successes with the
low-viscosity epoxy available from Rio Grande. It’s clear,
non-yellowing, and makes an excellent permanent bond. (It can also
be dissolved with Epoxy Attack if you screw up!) The viscosity is
approximately that of clover honey - not runny, but not as goopy as
the usual epoxies.

Jessee Smith

I recommend using fine (999 pure) silver for the shell setting,
having first soldered the fine sil to the sterling. Fine silve is
soft enough to be molded round an irregular or natural shape and also
will it allow repairs by letting you remove the shell at some later

The design of the joint to the stg will be quite critical, as if
it’s a small-area join then the fine sil might be too easily wrenched
away later in its life.

Without seeing your design, I can’t tell if this advice is any help
to you, but maybe you’re in the early design stages, and in general
you’d be best to design from the beginning with the intended setting
method quite well decided.


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