Friday, 18 September 2015

Picking Up Where I Left Off

That Iolite Brooch

You may remember, back on June 20, I came up with a design to set a customer's iolite stone into a pin. Many things got in the way — mostly the trouble I was having getting the setting for the emerald-cut stone. Should it be a claw setting or would a bezel be better? I actually roughed up one of each and spent a lot of time staring at them and the stone.

Recently, I decided it was time to get back to work on that pin. I finished shaping the back plate, filing the edges and stamping my mark on the back. In the end, I opted for the bezel setting.

Bezel Strip — or Strips

Actually, I assembled a pair of strips, one slightly wider than the other. That creates a lip for the stone to sit on. The ruler was my best friend at this point!  I knew this would be finicky because the tolerances are pretty fine. A touch too small, the stone will not go in. A hair too big, and it will fall right through! In this photo, you can make out the strips, soldered together to become a stepped piece of fine silver, slightly taller than the stone.

Will It Fit?

Here you can see the setting shaped around the stone. That excess bit had to be trimmed and the ends soldered together. That done, the process of shaping the bezel to fit over the stone began. I cut and filed away the angled corners that characterize an emerald cut. My plan was to have silver to fold over the sides and ends for security, but leave those angles free to catch the light and make the most of the wonderful color.

Not Too Short & Not Too Tall

I used a strip of sterling a bit wider than needed for the height of the stone for a very creative reason; it was the only suitable strip I had! As a result, I had to file the bottom of the setting so that it wouldn't be too tall. I wanted the stone to be on a plinth, not a skyscraper ;-)

The filing and sanding process also created a completely flat surface to solder to the back plate (which had to be filed a bit, too because the reticulation was not even enough for a proper solder join).

By the way, this sounds like way more trouble than it really is.

Together at Last

Once the pieces were assembled, I polished the silver then wrapped it with painter's tape to protect it from the stone setting tools. (You use your thumb and or a finger to protect the stone. Sometimes painful, but effective.

By now, it looks a lot like a brooch.

Or maybe not. That tape is just not beautiful!

And, Finally

A brooch to show off a truly glorious iolite.