Friday, 13 May 2016

Pair of Agates

This Took AGES!

Last year, I picked up a pretty semi-translucent agate in shades of golden brown and grey. I knew I wanted to make a very special necklace to showcase it but did not, at the time have a clear vision. As months went by, I would put it on the bench and ponder it's shape and colors.

The Plan

Slowly, I began to see that vision but it required finding a round cabochon in similar colors. Easy? Well, you'd be amazed at the hundreds of color tones to be found in agates. It was not until this spring's BC Gem Show that I found the right stone. Here, the stones on a sheet of sterling silver. I have marked lines for the cuts.

Copper Mounts for Color

I decided that the colors – like a bit of South West desert – would really look great if I mounted the agates with copper. Here, I am measuring the height of the large stone so I can cut a strip for the base mount from copper sheet. I used the same process to cut a strip to form a round bezel for the small cabochon. The copper wire was selected to pin the top of the large stone.

Checking for Fit

Part way there. At this point, I have soldered down the base for the large stone and the bezel for the cab. I have also marked and drilled the holes for that riveted pin at the top. It's coming together.

At this stage, I have been working on this project for a couple of weeks but there were many interruptions to tend to the vegetable garden. It's not that I love digging and raking, it's just that I love fresh tomatoes!

Pre Polishing – It Helps in the End

Everything is in place except the stones and the wire pin. Time to sand and polish to get the smoothest finish possible before placing the stones. Here, I have a polishing disc in my flex shaft. I have learned that you can take the time now or work twice as hard later.

All the Parts Lined Up

Somewhere along the way, I decided that this piece deserved a hand crafted chain. I considered copper but, in the end, decided on sterling silver. I wound and cut the rings from 16 gauge sterling wire. Above, all the parts.

That Ugly Stage

Rings being soldered. This was essential because I did not plan to use a chain of round rings. To shape them into ovals, you must solder them shut. That's more than 40 tiny solder joints, folks. Below, part way through shaping the ovals. Each side is pinched, using those pliers, around a small steel mandrel. That's more than 80 pinches. Sore fingers!

Worth All That Work

Given the hours of work, I am not sure if I will sell this beauty or keep it for me!

What would you do?