I would like a bit of direction on making a setting for a heart
shaped faceted stone that is going to be used as a pendant.
I'm not the same Frank who is looking at the micro pave bead work.
I'm a lot newer to jewelry making than that, in fact, this will be my
first jewelry project.
What I'm thinking is some sort of open back setting to allow light
through the stone with four prongs to hold the stone.
I would also like to do a type of 'vining' curly cues across the
front, not for support but for added interest.
The stone is purple amethyst (my daughter's birthstone) and I was
thinking argentium for the setting and fancy work. As I said, I don't
have a lot of experience or tools at this point which is why I'm
looking at argentium (avoiding firescale for now).
I have a mapp/oxygen torch and a butane torch for heat (I'll need to
pick up fire brick or a charcoal pad), some jewelry pliers and end
cutters, an anvil that I've taken down to a semi-mirror finish and an
8 oz ball peen hammer that I've put a slightly rounded mirror finish
on the main face and most importantly, an account at Rio Grande.
The first question is, do I have the right equipment (tool-wise) to
make a good stab at creating the setting? If not, what should I be
looking at adding? Is this a good starter project?
Any info would be much appreciated.
Ya'know, you have chosen a rather ambitious starter project. A
successful outcome is. well, I'm afraid you might struggle mightily
and become discouraged. It would be better to make something that is
less complicated. You would need to purchase more tools - files and
polishing materials at a minimum - and a good reference book with
drawings or photos showing step-by-step how to proceed. Not to
mention that setting the stone will present a challenge. Have you
ever seen a stone set?
However if you wish to try your hand, may I suggest that you
purchase from Rio a pre-made pendant heart mounting (preferably
pre-notched) and do a bit of soldering to attach some wires to the
side of the setting. You can enhance the mounting with some curlicues
formed with your round-nose pliers AFTER the stone is set. Sort of a
combo solder and wire-wrap.
You will need needle files to adjust the notches so that they fit
the girdle of the stone. Once the fit is complete, pliers are used to
gently bend the prongs over the girdle and against the stone. If the
prongs are not pre-notched, then you will need lots of patience to
slowly cut the notches with your files. Get GOOD files. The economy
version will work, but here is where you should begin considering
your equipment an investment and as such, buy the best you can
afford! Prong tips should be rounded and polished after the stone is
set. Although your files can accomplish this, you could rotate a cup
bur with your fingers to round the prong tips, and carefully polish
by hand with a series of abrasive papers.
Now, if the dimensions of the stone don't allow use of a pre-made
mounting, I'm uneasy about you tackling construction of a pronged
mounting and setting the stone, without a mentor and more tools than
you probably want to buy right now.
Yeah, I do think that this is NOT a good starter project. If I was
your teacher, I'd be proposing something much more basic to begin.
Let us know what you decide to do, OK?
Judy in Kansas, where just as the snow finally melted off the
driveway, another winter storm rolls in and, so far, about 3 inches
of the white stuff.
Hi Frank, I would have to concur with Judy that this is probably an
overly ambitious first project, although I do believe that if you can
get a pre-notched pre made prong setting for the stone you may be
able to accomplish it. However I would recommend trying some simpler
projects first. As for tools there is a whole lot you can do with
just a few pairs of pliers, cutters, saw frame, propane torch, anvil
or bench block, a hammer or two and a few files. Some polishing
equipment is needed as well, whether it's aflex shaft or a larger
polishing motor with buffs. I pretty much do all myoriginal design
work with just those basic tools. This is an art that takes more time
and patience than fancy tools. I probably still have a hundred pieces
that I made when I first started that really belong inthe scrap bin
but I keep them as a reminder of how far I've come in the last 13 or
14 years. I wish you success in your endeavors, feel free to ask
questions here at the Orchid, there is a great community of
knowledgeable folks here that are happy to help. Happy new year.
What size are the stones? What type of setting are you envisioning?
How experienced are you at making a setting? Lastly how experienced
at setting stones?
I ask for the simple reason of your choice of silver/argentium. Last
year I had of all people my hubbies boss ask if I could set some
stones into earrings for his wife. Sure i could do that easily. Then
it turned into making the settings as well. He wanted to go the
silver route. Fine by me since being hubbies boss I thought I would
do it for free and gain some brownie points for hubby. When I finally
got the stones I was taken aback. He wanted dangle earrings that
would drop about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.
These stones were 3 mm heart shaped tourmalines he bought on a
cruise. The cruise can tell you the quality of them. At first I had
thought they were triangular in shape, but inspecting them with a
good visor I saw they were just slightly notched one one of the
sides. Who ever cut them was not too good at it.
Making the basket setting he wanted for those small of heart shaped
settings was going to be a pain in the butt. So I searched for 3 mm
silver basket settings. NO ONE makes them that small for heart shaped
stones. I did find settings in white gold. I told hubbies boss about
the white gold and the cost of them, and he approved. Yet he also
wanted the top part where the post was to be white CZ's that were
smaller than the 3 mm stones. He also wanted those to be in silver no
matter what. I bet many of you are now cringing. I was.
I made the earrings. I set the stones, and I showed him the results.
He thought they were going to be bigger. Yet he was the one who
bought the tourmalines. He didn't like how small it was, even though
he picked out all parts of it. He didn't like that the silver didn't
quite match the gold. He didn't like the CZ's. So he handed me $20
and took the earrings and left. $20 didn't cover my costs. Next day
the boss wanted the $20 back and he kept the earrings. I heard he was
upset because no one else would tough the project for less than $300
for what in his mind was a simple setting.
Wisdom, Never do a project for a spouses boss unless it is fully
spelled out and you get the money up front. Even if they verbally OK
it, get it writing. Next look for the components you would use if you
are not fabricating it all yourself. You might change your mind of
metal and or design once you see what is available. Next don't give
up if I sound negative. There are many here with loads of good
suggestions. I personally will never deal with a heart shaped stone
under 7 mm again.
While typing this my cat ran and hide, I was typing so hard.
Hi Frank #2,
Good job on polishing the hammer and anvil! If it were me, I'd buy a
silver six prong setting and concentrate on getting the setting
skills to set the heart in that. A barrette file and a prong pusher
would help you, will not break the bank and will be useful later.
While a flexshaft and burrs are nice, you can set by hand with a file
or two. A ring clamp or jewelry stick to hold the pendant. I would
get a few cheap CZ hearts to practice on. You can round the prongs
with files and buffing, but a cup burr and flexshaft are nice to
If you get the heart set, you could work on making a chain. Saw up a
bunch of jump rings and solder them together to make it. Stretch them
to make an oval linked chain if you want. Lots of soldering practice,
after which you could tackle making the setting.
If you must make the six prong, Hans Meevis has a tutorial on making
one for a ring head. You'd modify it a bit and add a bale for a
pendant, but one general construction method is shown. You could make
the chain first and then go on to the pendant. If you melt a few
links, so what.
Argentium is nice, but sterling is fine if you are careful with your
soldering. I have made a number of projects and never had any
trouble with firescale. Just don't start with hard solder !
Good luck and let us know how you make out.
I'm inclined to agree with the type of project this is. I guess you
don't learn to drive by entering the Indy 500.
I believe I'll put the stone away until next year when I have some
more experience. There's a studio near me that offers a 2 month basic
I have zero experience in making settings or setting stones.
I've decided to postpone this project until I get some more
experience. I'm ordering some round 5mm CZ's and 5mm prong settings
from Rio Grande to start practicing with. Then I can move to tube
bezel settings and finally flush settings. After that, I'll work on
different shapes and start work on setting design and manufacture.
So much to do, so many mistakes to make ;-)
I like the chain idea. Something a little easier to start with and
build a few skills.
Thank you very much for the idea and direction.
I was going to make this for my daughter for her birthday but I
believe you are correct. I'll shelf the stone until I have a little