Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Freeform cabs for silversmiths?


#1

I have a question for the silversmiths in the group. What kinds,
shapes, sizes, colors, and any other properties for the freeform cabs
or “designer cabs” do you look for when you purchase the cabs you use
in your jewelry. (Or that you cab for yourself) Also, is it the stone
that makes your pieces sell or it is the overall design?

I am presenting this question as I am cabbing much of my material but
have not tried to sell any recently. I don’t have a website and have
not gone the show route yet.

Thanks for your observations.
Larry


#2

The things that I consider when purchasing cabs are these:

Interesting material - color, pattern, durable
Cut thin enough to make jewelry - thick cabs don't work
Shape - not oval, asymetrical, graceful
Polish -  perfect, no undercuts, 
Back relieved on edge to accomodate solder fillet
For pairs - reasonable pattern and color match
Size - appropriate to the use - 1x2 inch rectangles are too big for earrings
Price appropriate to the use  - I wouldn't buy a $100 stone to set in a silver pendant - you would have to get over $600 retail for the piece and that probably won't work often enough to try;  

As to whether the stone or design makes the piece - it all works
together, but just setting a stone with nothing else very seldom
sells - it needs to show the hand of the designer. I often combine
unexpected color combinations - gaspiete and sugulite for example.
People especially like designs with names. Try and set some of your
cabs - you will quickly learn what works.

As to selling - get out there, sell and you will learn far more than
intellectual examination of the product and process.

In this day and age and competition - what seems to matter is that
jewelry is original, not mass produced, and unusual. Finish matters,
design matters, it needs to feel good, hang right, and pop - that
undefinable spark that identifies the work of an artist.

Good luck - we need more good lapidaries.

Judy Hoch - in rainy Denver - fall is coming.


#3

I look for beauty, color and interesting shapes in the cabs I buy for
my jewelry. I usually try to visualize how a certain shape can be
used in a jewelry piece - some of the most challenging shapes make
the most interesting jewelry. Some shapes are so “off balance” that
they are really difficult to design around but if I can’t resist the
color or the beauty of the stone I go ahead and buy it, after all,
that’s what makes this business fun!

Jan McClellan
http://www.designjewel.com


#4

I mostly look for color and pattern, and anything unusual that
catches the eye to entice a closer look. I generally like thumbnail
size for the center piece, but have been known to use up to pullet egg
size. Anything larger poses a problem with weight, unless on a belt
buckle. Mostly I prefer baroque forms, as I’m particularly fond of
asymetrical designs. These allow for more design possibilities,
because of what is necessary to have balance in the composition. If I
do use a symetrical shape, my favorite is a gentle S form.

After color and pattern, I look for good cuts, weed out flat spotted
things, the ability to be set without a big hassle (although I have
done quite a few that was worth the extra setting hassle), good
polish, no cracks or chips, not too thick or too thin for the material
used, etc. When looking at a show, I can usually tell which ones have
been at it for awhile, and which ones really enjoy cutting their
material. Theirs is like going into a fancy candy store.

I think once we get to the designer stage, we automatically look for
stones that are immediately identifiable as being something out of the
ordinary. People who are looking at designer jewelry want something
different from everyone else and is anything but ordinary.

Hope it helps. –


#5

Larry, Having been a long time “rockhead” myself, I’ll cut just about
anything. Most of my work is in gold so I try to cut things that are
suitable for that media. Chalcedony (all colors), sugilite, charoite,
tourmaline , garnet, all kinds of star and eye stones, pietersite,
opal (my fave), jaspers, anything that is interesting or unusual. I
even cut interesting pieces of railroad slag, leaving the natural
surface like druzy.The idea for me, is not to necessarily make each
stone a “work-of-art” in itself, but a part of a whole piece that
looks as though it belongs together. If you are cutting for the market
then pay close attention to the details: nicely polished flat backs;
good polish all the way down the shoulder; if a double sided cab,a
nice straight girdle; if a wild shaped freeform, always leave
something to allow the stone to be easily set. (many good carvings are
lacking this) It has also been my experience that most retail
customers, (and a good many Wholesale) don’t know one stone from
another. Be prepared to educate, particularly if you use rare or very
unusual rough. later,

Mark Thomas Ruby
SunSpirit Designs
Loveland, CO
970 669-7075


#6

Hello Larry,

I have a question for the silversmiths in the group. What kinds,
shapes, sizes, colors, and any other properties for the freeform
cabs or "designer cabs" do you look for when you purchase the cabs
you use in your jewelry. (Or that you cab for yourself) Also, is it
the stone that makes your pieces sell or it is the overall design? 
Many of us avowed "stonaholics" are attracted to the unusual or

beautiful stone. I think that we are more selective in the design
chosen for such a stone, and then to (unconsciously or not) sell it
better because we like the stone so well. One thing that is important
in bezel-setting the stone is having a nice, flat back. Crafting the
bezel to fit an unusual shape is not a problem, but dealing with an
irregular or domed back is another step in the process, and means
more time in the piece and a higher cost. My $.02, Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936