Sterling silver, Indian garnet and cubic zirconia pendant and earrings

by helen hill on November 2, 2008

Here is another new piece (or pieces) that I’ve just finished.  I made it for my best friend’s birthday.  June loves to wear red so I thought garnet would be a good choice.  I used 2mm round wire for the “back bone” of the pendant and 1.2mm wire for the earrings.  I made the bezel setting for the large (6mm) round CZ a little taller than I normally do so that I could drill holes to make a hidden bale for the chain.  I like that look, rather than adding a bale which sometimes adds nothing to the design of a piece.  I was going to arrange the three smaller CZ’s in a line around the silver wire (just as I have done with the round, faceted garnets but on the other side), but when I was arranging them on the bench prior to soldering, they accidentally formed a little trefoil which I thought looked much better.  So I soldered them together like that, before soldering the group to the piece.  Such happy accidents are great! 🙂

It’s a bit of a departure from my normal “style” but I’m very pleased with the result.  I’m not personally a huge fan of filigree as it is quite fussy and frilly and I like things a little more simple and contemporary (for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be as popular in the UK as it is in the US).  So although for me, this piece is bordering on the “too fussy”, I think it’s quite a contemporary take on the filigree “look”, whilst not being filigree itself.  Disclaimer: whilst I’m not personally a fan in that I don’t wear filigree jewellery, I greatly admire the work and skill of those who do make filigree jewellery and I do like to look at it when I’m browsing for inspiration.

A couple of the solder joints attaching the garnet cabochon to the wire of the pendant could have been better and I struggled to clean them up to my satisfaction, but it’s all part of the learning process and something to think about if I do something similar in the future.  Many thanks to my Scottish Orchid buddy for the little burnisher he made me, which is fantastic around the inside of bezels – thanks Robin!

Sterling silver, Indian garnet and cubic zirconia pendant and earrings

Sterling silver, Indian garnet and cubic zirconia pendant and earrings

Pendant close-up

Pendant close-up

Enjoy, and any comments welcome.

helen hill

helen hill

helen hill

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

helensgems December 5, 2008 at 6:05 am

I don’t think so. Rhodium, to me has a very dark, grey look just like platinum and it’s this colour that I’m not liking when working with sterling silver. Silver for me is the only white metal that has that REALLY white, frosty look, but I can’t get it with sterling and wondered if you only get it with fine silver. Maybe it’s because I like to polish to a high shine and you only get that really white look with a more matt finish?
Helen Hill

Peter December 3, 2008 at 8:47 am

Again, conjecture – a lot of commercial silver jewellery is rhodium plated, which is very bright. The main reason being to avoid having to keep polishing displays & stock…

Pripps – or Argotect – help, but time at temperature is what allows the firestain to form. Argentium has a bit of a learning curve to it – worthwhile though (but I still don’t like the Arg hard solder!).

helensgems December 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Hmm absolutely not! I know what firestain looks like and I chase down any that appears until it’s gone. I’m not getting it anywhere near as much now that I’m using Pripps but a rogue patch does sometimes appear – just like yesterday in fact – but it’s gone now. No, what I mean is that I’ve seen some silver jewellery in shops that sometimes looks REALLY white – very attractive in my opinion. The sterling I use and most of the silver jewellery I see doesn’t have that white look so I wondered if it’s fine silver as opposed to sterling silver.
Amen to looking forward to Cooksons stock Argentium – can’t wait!
Helen Hill

Peter December 2, 2008 at 11:59 am

Hmm. The “dark look of sterling”? You’re not seeing firestain, are you?

Incidentally – a stunt you may or may not know on spotting firestain: hold a piece of tracing paper against the silver; you’ll be able to see firestain clearly as a grey smudge through the paper. Sanding residue also shows as a grey smudge, so don’t be fooled by that…!

Depeletion gilding of the silver would raise fine silver to the surface too. Roll on when Cooksons carry Argentium…

helensgems December 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I, like you, prefer a chunky look so maybe I should try some fine silver. Incidentally, I was thinking about it from another point of view. I’m not keen on the dark look of sterling silver and would really love to achieve that very white look. I’m presuming it’s fine silver that will give me that white look?
Helen Hill

Peter December 1, 2008 at 10:16 am

Fine silver is what I use for cab bezels (.3-.5mm thick walls, sometimes with bearers) – although I’m quite fond of setting facetted stones in very heavy bezels these days. For thinner bezels all I tend to use are a nickel silver bezel pusher, a brass bezel rocker and a burnisher (although I’ll often just use the burnisher) – followed up with pumice wheels. Thicker ones I use a small punch (and hammer) or hammer handpiece, barette needle file and the pumice wheels.

Missed the post where you said you were not finding it more difficult, sorry!

Sterling’s fine in thick enough section – but equally, I like making slightly chunkier stuff.

helensgems December 1, 2008 at 8:48 am

Hi Peter,
No I’ve not tried making bezels out of fine silver. I bought some but haven’t even been tempted to try it! Many people say it’s too soft and that sterling is even too soft for many things. I know I’m hardening the bezels when tumbling prior to setting – that is the reason I tumble. I was sick of having my silver jewellery dull so quickly due to it picking up scratches. So now I tumble and the shine stays for much longer, resisting scratches better than before. I can’t tumble after setting as I don’t want chipped facet meets on my stones so I do it before. I’ve not found it any more difficult to set stones since starting to tumble as I said in one post. I tried the punches before I even got the tumbler and they still didn’t work!
I’m chalking it up to experience and won’t be so quick to buy something that looks like it may make a job easier, only to find that it doesn’t. Thanks for the input though.
Helen Hill

Peter December 1, 2008 at 8:28 am

Helen – regarding one of your bezel comments on Ganoksin, if you are tumbling the piece before setting, you are hardening the bezel… Have you tried making your bezels from fine silver instead of sterling?

For a thouroughly unpleasant setting experience, I recommend 9K gold bezel wire.

helensgems November 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Thanks Sam. I’ll probably do a few more similar pieces, keeping those frills to a minimum!

Sam Patania November 4, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Very nice Helen, not too frilly , just right.

helensgems November 4, 2008 at 4:55 am

Thanks SO much Jean – glad you like it.
Helen Hill

Jean November 3, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Love the set Helen

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