Firstly, sorry for this being a day late – everything mechanical seemed to be on a go-slow (or stop) yesterday. By 2am, I had decided to give up and re-write/post this today. Also, my beautiful Frodo (Maine Coon Cross kitty) is back at the vets, staying overnight for fluids and TLC after having a dip with his CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) and loosing a bit of weight. You’ll be glad to know that he’s had a good night (and lots of cuddles from the great staff there); and hopefully, I’ll be picking him up today.
The other technical difficulties I had with this piece is the actual setting of the fluorite stone – but I’ll get to that later on.
You see, I had this beautiful green & purple fluorite stone in a (sort of) tear-drop shape, which has been sitting around not doing much for about a year. I don’t make much big jewellery and thought that this stone was much too heavy to make something out of. Well, I had an idea for a spiders web type of decoration for a bezel set stone and for once, this stone seemed perfect.
I drew around the stone as a template and roughed out the idea before picking up any tools. I usually like designing as I go, but this time I needed to make a pattern because the stone isn’t a flat-backed cabochon but a rounded stone like a pebble. Once I had the design I wanted, I drew it out in pencil on my soldering board. This meant that I could place the silver where I wanted it and solder as needed, without the worry of flammable paper being near; and it’s much more of a stable surface than setting out on paper – less likely to shift when placing items together.
I decided to make the silver “webs” first and make them a little larger than needed. This way, they would rest on top of the bezel wire for soldering and then I could file the unwanted parts back. It would be easier than making them the exact size and the finding them not quite fit or having trouble soldering them to the bezel. The strands of the web were done using scrap pieces of 0.8mm round wire – bent to shape and laid together. These were soldered with hard solder and then I filed the places for the silver balls (so they would sit still whilst soldering) and then the silver balls were soldered on top with medium solder.
The bezel was wrapped around the stone for sizing and then (with the stone taken away) soldered closed with hard solder. A jump ring was soldered to the top at the same time. It was quite hard getting the jump ring soldered in the right place – the locking tweezers acted as a heat sink and made it difficult for the two pieces to heat up evenly. In the end, I sweat-soldered the two together.
The two parts of the spider’s web were placed on top of the bezel and soldered in place with easy solder. I trimmed and filed any excess silver away. Originally, I was going to have the strands terminate at the silver balls, but I liked the way a little bit of the wire poked out at the end – so I kept it like that and just rounded the ends off.
The whole thing went into the pickle pot and then (after a quick smooth & polish) had a turn in the tumbler for about an hour.
As the stone was rounded, I didn’t want to have a back on the bezel. The idea was to have the flat bezel strip pushed down on both sides of the stone, curving around the edge and setting the stone from both sides. This is where the real technical difficulties happened for me. Placing the stone in the setting, I had to curve the web part of the design (okay so far) and then turn the whole thing over and push the bezel down. In hindsight, I think I should have pushed the bezel at the front down first, but originally I wanted the bezel to be straight at the front – although it didn’t look right when I did it that way and I ended up pushing the bezel down over the front of the stone in the end. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
As the stone is very rounded, it was quite hard to get it to stay in place when pushing the bezel down. As soon as I thought I’d finished, I checked it over and there was still more movement in the stone and I’d start going over it again. I don’t think I would have had a problem if the stone was a flat-backed cabochon and the setting had a back on it; but it wasn’t and it didn’t – so I just had to persevere.
When it came time for me to turn it over, the bezel at the front didn’t look quite right, so I decided to push it down there as well. It was a bit difficult around the webs but I managed it with not too much trouble. The problem only showed itself when I thought I’d finished – the bezel had twisted slightly while setting and had slightly come forward at one side. “Oh bother” I said (or something similar), and proceeded to try and bend the bezel back into place.
This has been more of a learning curve than I had expected. Although, I am quite pleased with the finished piece; I don’t think I will do this type of bezel again in a hurry!