Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Dangle Earrings

Creating Summer Fun Jewelry

With spring close and summer coming, I designed a different pair of earrings. These dangles will look great with those bare shouldered summer fashions. Here is how I made them.

Using My Jeweler's Tools

Artisan jewelers use lots of tools but I find there are a few I use on almost every project: my saw, hammers, files and torch. I used the torch to reticulate the sterling for this pair of earrings. The process is simple, but time consuming: heat the metal until it glows a dark red at least eight times. Sterling is an alloy of silver and copper and this process brings a layer of pure silver to the surface. As a final step (this is the fun part), you heat the metal until that surface layer starts to melt and use the flame to push it around until you have the textured surface you want. I cut these shapes from the reticulated silver.

To pierce the openings, I marked the shape to cut out and drilled a hole near one corner. Opening the jeweler's saw, I threaded the blade through the hole and cut out the pattern. I used my file to smooth all the edges. Over the years, my saw control has improved so I do not have to spend nearly as much time filing to get the edges perfectly straight!

Solder on the Ear Wires

I cut lengths of 20 gauge sterling wire to make these and used the file and sandpaper to round off the ends. I hammered the attachment end a bit to get a flat surface. It just takes a few small bits of solder and a short burst of flame to attach the wires to the back of the earrings.

And Shape Them

That pair of stepped forming pliers are so useful. They help me start the shape for most bezels and they make shaping ear wires a simple task.

Soldering the wires softens the metal (heating always anneals — softens — silver) and that is not the best thing for ear wires. Any sort of working on metal hardens it. Indeed, if you bend or hammer it too much without re-annealing, it can become brittle and break. The shaping process does work harden the wires to some extent. To complete the process, and make the wires as tough as possible, I ran the finished earrings in my tumbler loaded with water a tiny bit of pure soap and steel shot.The tumbling hardens those wires and also burnishes the pieces to a nice shine.

All Done

Hope someone will enjoy wearing these to a party some day this summer.