Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Sunstone Studs

Variations on a Theme

Of all the items I make, I find round silver stud earrings, set with cabochon gemstones, are the best sellers. It makes sense because you can wear them any time, anywhere — day to night, office to party. Of all the earrings I own (and that's a lot), a pair like these are my go-to favorites.

I recently sold two pairs of this style from my ArtYah shop <https://www.artyah.com/seller/sterlingbydix>. With the holiday shopping season upon us, I decided making a few more might be a good idea. Besides, I enjoy doing them. I stocked up on silver and stones and got to work.

Sunstones Are Well Named

For the first set, I chose a pair of glowing, peachy-gold sunstones. These stones shimmer and contain almost magic sparkles.

No matter what stone I am working with, I always have to start by cutting flat sterling silver discs of an appropriate diameter.

This pair of stones are rated as 8mm although my caliper is showing 7.9 — even factory cut stones can be slightly uneven. That is why I always make each of a pair of earrings separately — the adjustments can vary. In the photo, you see my length of bezel wire (pure — as opposed to sterling — silver), the calipers, the prepared discs, a special pair of piers for shaping rounds (i.e. bezels) and the sunstone cabochons.

First Stud, Waiting for The Fire

Next photo, a shot of the back plate and the bezel on a charcoal block, ready for soldering. The two nickels serve to let more heat go under the piece and silver will not stick to them (who would want a pretty earring with a dirty nickel stuck to it???)

 Looks dirty. Okay, it is dirty but without charcoal and fire, few pieces of jewelry would ever be born.

Once the bezel is solidly attached to the disc, I have to pickle the piece (give it a bath in a mild acid to remove oxides) and solder on the ear post. Sounds easy but an ear post is a thin piece of wire and all to easy to melt. I used to destroy about 1 in 4. Nowadays, my average is much  better. I only melt about 1 in 10. It is, remember, a learning process. It worked.

See these at DixSterling on etsy.