Broken pottery jewelry


I have a friend who wants me to make a pendant out of some broken
china pieces she has (result of an earthquake.) I’ve never done this
before and was wondering if anyone else has and had some
suggestions. Specifically, how do I cut the china and how do you
bezel set a curved piece. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures handy but
some of the shards are 2 to 3 inches long and curved (think side of a
teacup.) I was thinking those pieces might make a nice bracelet but
would need to be trimmed and sanded and then set.

Any advice is appreciated.

Hello Christi,

Bezel setting bits of broken china - use fine silver for the bezel so
that you apply as little pressure as possible when setting. I would
avoid long curved pieces in a bracelet - bracelets are likely to be
struck (or to strike) hard objects and crack or break. Even if backed
with heavy gauge sheet, shards are just more sensitive to blows than
ceramic pieces with intact edges. If the china pieces are relative
thin (porcelain), it would pay to “cushion” them with epoxy or
something similar when setting.

Judy in Kansas, where you’d think it a lovely day unless you looked
at the thermometer - Brrrrr.

I don’t know for sure, I have seen other people do this though. I
think they used “bezel” from a craft store meant for stained glass
hobby. Do a google and see what you find, I know quite a few people
are doing this now.


You can use a glass nipper (used to make mosaic pieces) to make the
shape you need. Katie Baum has a lot of experience with metal clay
and pottery. I think one of the most important things to remember is
to allow enough space for shrinkage. Otherwise either the metal will
crack or the ceramic will.


There’s a Pueblo guy named Mark, forgot which Pueblo & his last name
but he’s a silversmith & does his work based on pottery shards. Many
years ago I found an old piece & used Hand Sculptured Wire Jewelry to
set it. I didn’t cut the piece, I just cleaned it up & sat it as it
was. I wasn’t doing silversmith work at the time.

Sharon Perdasofpy

....shards are just more sensitive to blows than ceramic pieces
with intact edges. If the china pieces are relative thin
(porcelain), it would pay to "cushion" them with epoxy or something
similar when setting. 

I think shards and irregularly/randomly cut pieces of stone may be
very aesthetic and the artistic effect depends of course on how light
impacts the stone. I had 64 lineal feet of stone wall made by an
expert mason with geometrically exact granite tiles and I placed a
planter in the middle of it containing a bonsai cypress tree. This is
a front yard showpiece and of course it cost thousands. Though I am a
stone-working neophyte, I rough cut some nice but not extra-ordinary
clay/silt/mud origin metamorphic stones (sort of nature’s ceramics)
for the bonsai planter. The stones are rusty reddish and white-grey.
They are like china ceramic shards with completely irregular and
jagged tops and sides though I needed a flat back for the mortar. The
artistic effect is partly created by the contrast of regular granite
tiles with irregular planter stones. The gestalt of the work of
course causes the eye to see the planter first so I had to be right
about doing this, otherwise spoiling an expensive job. I was highly
complemented by the owner for the project.

Jade, as we all know, is a rock and not a mineral so its breakage in
reaction to hammer blows is variable. I took some of the “Polar
Jade” which Leaming says is the best in the world and struck various
shards with a hammer. The smaller the piece, the easier it was to
shatter it. Pieces a few mm wide were very easy to shatter. I expect
this would generalize to all stones. Jade “toughness” in bead-sized
stone is no match for a hammer.

We say that scratch is not the same as shatter when it comes to
overall stone strength. But again, how much force is there in the
scratch? If an ophiolite terrane environment from the ocean floor
travels thousands of miles after the disintegration of a recent
supercontinent like Pangea, the diamonds in it are subjected to many
powerful and sudden scratching and shattering blows from surrounding
rocks as well as aerobic and anaeorbic heating which may turn them to
CO2 or graphite. Tiny shards of diamond are a particular interest of
mine. I think that is what is embedded in my diamond saws and drills.

Otherwise I have little experience with diamond grit/shards and
would appreciate feedback from jewellers who have probably seen
thousands of pieces of pre-faceted and shattered diamonds. Do the
rough-cut faces give the sparkle of faceted diamonds? Has anyone
tried setting them in protective epoxy etc. to see what the
interaction with light is like?

I like the idea of using ceramic shards. I collect gold plated cups,
plates, saucers etc. as a minor hobby. The saucer from a lovely cup
and saucer set broke and though I still use the gold plated cup the
saucer is not useful but I kept it anyway. Now I know what to do with
it. Along these lines I have a hobby piece on my wall. The “clock”
consists of rough cut pieces of gold, silver and platinum ore I have
gathered in my prospecting over a 50 year period. I covered a
circular plate with metal lathing and thin set mortar. The
plate-hanging wire is securely tied to the metal lathing. Then I
mortared the stones onto it in the place of hands and minute/hour
locations (glues could substitute). As for the planter, IMO the
juxtaposition of geometric regularity (the granite tiles and the
plate) and the irregular stones is aesthetic. The wall hanging is
titled “Geological Time”.

My gold saucer shards may end up on a wall plate like this. Thanks
for the tip.


go and read any book on rock mechanics and you will see why small
pieces of material are more prone to shattering than big ones
(though the relationship is not always linear)and as to what force is
required to scratch something.

You wish to extrapolate something from a chip to a gemstone to your 2
pet subjects of diamonds and jade that arent there. You also have a
habit of misusing well laid out and understood terminologies and
misapply them because you WANT them to apply. Enjoy your rocks for
what they are but dont call them something else because that is what
you want and dream of.

Nick Royall

I would love to see a picture of your wall!