Jewellery Techniques

JEWELLERY TECHNIQUES

I've listed here the different methods I use to create pieces of jewellery and each has its own challenges. I am keen to step up to the plate and learn a new technique but it can be a long process and a lot of frustration before it is perfected. Mounting faceted stones into ring settings can be testing, particularly elaborate and complex designs, which require exceptional patience, a high level of skill and years to master.  Enamelling is also very rewarding (and frustrating!) and has taken me years to get to grips with. Making Byzantine chain is very therapeutic even if it is a bit repetitive but the result is well worth the effort.

Rings

This is called a "Basket Set" ring as the setting resembles a basket.  The setting is soldered onto a ring band that I make (here Sterling Silver but other metals can be used) before I create the setting. This is made by soldering two wires formed into circles to fit the stone with straight wire to form the claws. Once all the soldering has been completed, the gemstone is delicately set into the basket using various stone setting tools and polished. It takes time and an awful lot of patience because it is quite fiddly to make. Other settings include tube when metal tube is cut and drilled to seat the stone in; gypsy or flush where stones are set "flush" with the metal surface and bezel used primarily for cabochon stones with flat bottoms constructed with a metal base onto which a strip of metal is soldered to form the bezel that fits around the stone.  See gallery for examples of these settings

Byzantine Chain

This is an elegant and intricate chain which has the appearance of rope and features prominently in my designs. It is also known as Etruscan, Birds Nest or Fools Dilemma but how it became commonly known as Byzantine is oddly enough, unknown. The links are interwoven together to form the "byzantine" effect.  It is quite a delicate and  time consuming activity!

Enamelling

An ancient technique where ground coloured glass is fired at high temperatures onto created pieces; usually in copper or silver. It adds a colourful dimension to jewellery and is long-lasting if it is looked after. There are different methods of enamelling besides simple applications such as cloisonné (meaning cell in French) where silver/copper wire is fused to a piece of jewellery and the enamel is wet packed into each cell created. Champleve is also based on creating cells but they are deeper than with cloisonné.  It takes a great deal of patience to get a piece finished

Granulation

A technique thought to have originated in Sumer some 5000 years ago and used by the Etruscans. Small spheres of precious metal (usually gold or silver) are  created by melting precious metal into small divots in a charcoal block and placed in a design on a piece of jewellery giving it an interesting  three dimensional effect.

Texturing and Doming

The technique of texturing can be used in efferent ways to lend interest to a piece of jewellery. I use texturing hammers, rolling mill and stamps to provide a variety of shapes and imprints. Other methods to create a textured finish include chasing (texturing metal from the front), repousse (texturing metal from the back), reticulation (melting the surface of metal to create a raised effect); etching (using chemicals to burn designs into metal) and doming (using a special punch which when hammered into the metal creates the dome effect).

Wax Carving

It is used not only to create multiples of the same piece but also for items that would be too difficult to make by normal construction methods. I carve out the design in wax using the same tools as for my other techniques and some special additional ones for wax. Once the piece is ready, it is taken to the casting company where either a mould is created for multiples of the same piece or a one-off casting for individual items The latter uses the lost wax casting method, called so because the wax "model" disappears in the process.  This photo is of a commissioned piece for a client made from the lost wax method and cast in Sterling Silver.