Writing to this forum was the smart thing to do.
There are several methods, but here is mine.
You will need a very hot and tiny flame, butane won't work. Use
fine silver not sterling. The copper content in sterling will make
an uneven ball. High karat gold will work fine, 18K and above. Stay
away from 14K as it has the same issues as sterling.
Cut a disk of thin grey cardboard, to a little bigger than your
gemstone. Make a small hole in the center and a slit. Soak it in
Ball one end of the fine silver wire and thread it through. Take the
other end of the wire, thread it through the disk and ball the wire.
I came up this idea watching glassblowers use only wet newspaper to
shape hot glass.
You mention that you are not a jeweler or metalsmith. I suggest
that you outsource this part of the process to a jeweler. It will be
well worth your time rather than trying to put together a jewelers
propane torch and oxygen. However, if you incorporate this technique
frequently in your work, it would be worth it to you to take a
M E T A L W E R X
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Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio