Thursday, 14 April 2016

Kyanite Ovals

Back to the Bench

I really enjoyed prowling the displays of stones and finished jewelry at the BC Gem show last weekend. It's a fun event. Of course, because a jeweler can never have too many stones, I did buy a few. I'd love to say I have plans for all of them, but I really bought them because they caught my eye. On future blogs you may meet some of them.

I did, however, have some lovely blue Kyanite cabs that were purchased with a definite purpose in mind; oval studs. With a few days of cooler, damp weather, I had "time off" from the garden chores so headed to my bench with some sterling sheet and wire — and the stones.

How Tall Should That Wire Be?

Getting bezels to fit stones is not only a matter of getting the length of wire just right to wrap the gem, but also getting a height that allows you to fold the wire over the edge of the stone enough to grip but not to smother it.

Here you can see that the bezel wire stands well above the point where it grips the stone. I have one of the Kyanites sitting in its bezel and I have marked where the top should be. If I was a real master of the jeweler's saw, I might try to cut it but, with the delicacy of fine silver bezel wire, I am going to play it safe and take it down by sanding. And sanding. And sanding. Better more work than a crumpled bezel!

Ready to Set

Here, I have soldered both the bezel and the earring post in position. As usual, I have cut away part of the back plate to let more light through the stone — and to create an earring light enough for all day wear.

Two tasks to go; polish the silver and set the stone. The photo below shows the earring atop a piece of leather (scratch protection) with the tools needed to close the bezel over the edge of the cabochon. Top: a bezel rocker. Its curved top surface lets me rock the silver onto the stone. Below it: a steel burnisher which I use to smooth and polish the top of the bezel once it is shaped onto the stone. With a slightly fragile stone such as Kyanite, I use both with great care.

Tap, Tap, Tap = Tough

Last steps include a final polish and — very important — placing the earring post on the steel anvil, holding the earring along the side of it, and gently tapping on the post while rotating it. Why? Well, the post is soldered in place. To solder, you heat the metal — a lot. Heat anneals (softens) silver. Nobody needs a soft, pliable ear post. The tapping work hardens the metal so it won't bend as you it on your ear.

Pretty Blue Stones, Ready for Someone's Ears