Monday, 30 November 2015

End of November

And More Earrings

November has been earring month at DixSterling. For some reason, my take on how to decorate your ears has featured lots of triangles. 

Swinging Amethysts


The first pair I put together features dangling triangles of reticulated silver (yeah, I still love that look even if it is a lot of work). To add a touch of color, I soldered 3mm tubes at the triangle bases and set them with sweet amethyst cabochons.



A pair of shepherd hooks and the amethysts in place. I'm quite happy with how this pair turned out. I think they would be lovely party wear but they are dignified enough for the office, too. 



Sometime, Silver is Enough


The next pair was crafted from nothing but sterling silver. First I cut a pair of triangles from more reticulated silver, then I melted two small clippings of pure silver until they formed small balls. I soldered the balls to the earrings and attached shepherd hooks. 

Sweet. Simple. Silver.


Okay, that's it for November. 

Time to Welcome December.



Thursday, 26 November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

To all of you about to enjoy a yummy turkey dinner. :-)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

November 19

Snazzy Yellow Convertible

By now, you know I have developed a weakness for pretty stones so it's no surprise that I could not resist a glittery, 8 mm faceted citrine. I just had to set it.


Glitter Atop Shimmer

I was so pleased with the look of the setting I did for a client's hand-cut stones (see post of October 6), that I decided to reticulate some more sterling silver for this beauty. As I had a sneaky trick in mind for this piece, I settled on an equilateral triangle for the back plate. Here is my sketch the pieces, before soldering the stone setting onto the piece. That took a bit of doing.

Bits and Pieces

This photo shows the various parts I needed for this project: the citrine, of course, the triangular sterling plate, the claw mount for the stone, the pin findings and a nifty little gadget I got from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply.

When all these bits are assembled, the piece of jewelry will be convertible. The brooch (or pin) can be converted into a pendant by slipping that hollow tube piece on the right onto the pin stem: a neat little bail lets the owner slip the piece onto a chain to wear it as a pendant.  (Thanks to a friend on The Handmade Forum for planting that idea in my head).

If It Isn't Flat, It Won't Solder

A solder joint requires a perfect fit between the two pieces, in this case, the claw mount and the back plate. Reticulated silver is glorious and I love how it sets off a stone but that lumpy surface presents a soldering problem.


The solution is to grind down the area where the solder must go. Here is the plate, captured in a jeweler's engraving block. I mounted the block in my vice and used a diamond grinding bur in my flex shaft tool to flatten the marked area.

The rest of this is pretty standard work. I soldered the setting to the front, then positioned and soldered the pin hinge and catch onto the back. Last step, mounting that brilliant citrine where it can adorn some lucky woman's lapel or neck!


Want to find this under your tree? It will be at DixSterling on etsy soon.















Friday, 13 November 2015

Earrings, Earrings

Stocking My Virtual Shelves

With the holiday shopping (and party) season almost upon us, I have been busy at my bench making things for my shop <www.etsy.com/shop/DixSterling> so there will be lots of options on offer. I'm particularly keen on adding more earrings. A simple truth: a woman can never have too many earrings.

The Blue Agate Plan


Last weekend, we attended a Rock & Gem show and, despite the large number of stones in my stash, I found a few more I had to have. Another simple truth: a jeweler can never have too many stones.

Here is the sketch, along with the actual parts. That pretty little oval is a dyed blue agate cabochon. A pair of them at the show caught my eye and shouted: "Earrings". I decided, with party season ahead, someone would love these set on swinging dangle earrings. The stones seemed to dictate the slightly irregular shape. I got started on this on Wednesday afternoon.

Like Shoes, Stones Must Fit

I have learned – the hard way, of course – that it pays to be sure a stone fits the bezel before you attach the bezel to the backplate, because there can be microscopic variations in the size of matched stones. Here is one of the blue agates being tested for fit. With earrings, it also pays to pair up stones, bezels and backings and assemble one set at a time. That saves inadvertently setting the slightly smaller stone in the bezel meant for the slightly larger on (that can be done) – only to find the larger one will not fit into the smaller bezel (that cannot be done).

One Done

Yesterday, we got hit with our first winter storm – wild winds and sheets of rain. A great day to get into the shop and complete these. Here is the first of the pair, stone set and ear wire attached.


Two Done




Next up, a pair of triangle dangles set with tiny amethysts. Stay tuned ;-)













Saturday, 7 November 2015

Rainy November Day

Dreary, but Good for Indoor Work

Very gray, very wet today. Bench and computer time, for sure. I posted this lapis lazuli pendant on etsy yesterday. Here is a quick look at the process.


Here is a photo of the parts — the oval lapis cabochon, the sterling back plate with bezel soldered on and the square sterling wire that will frame the piece and let it hang from a chain. Those pliers helped shape a bail from the end of the wire. It's a simple design, although slightly bothersome to actually make ;-) I seldom come up with ideas that make my life easy!

First Things First

Before I soldered the bezel onto the back plate, I cut out a pair of hearts. In this photo, I am using a strip of 400 grit sandpaper to smooth the edges of those cutouts. Why hearts? I just felt like it, I guess.


It's a pretty good policy to cut out part of the backplate for a couple of reasons. First, it lightens the piece for wearing comfort (especially useful in a large item like this). Second, if repairs are ever needed, having an opening or two makes it easier to remove the stone. There are few, if any, stones you would risk leaving in place if a solder joint needed re-heating!

Two Final Photos


With the wire frame soldered to the backing, I used a series of polishing discs on the piece prior to setting the stone.


I wonder if this will end up under someone's Christmas tree? It does look a bit like a tree ornament, doesn't it?


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Iolite Pendant

Such a Pretty Trio

In recent months, I have developed a fondness for iolite. There is great depth to the blue-purple color in these stones. I have several cabs in my stash so decided to use three in a simple sterling pendant.



The design I settled on is a rectangle, embellished with an engraved centre line behind the tube-set cabochons.

Protecting the Stones

Once the sterling has been prepared (sanding and polishing is much easier before adding the settings),  I added the tube settings and a hidden bail. Ready to set the stones and it becomes important to avoid scratching the silver surface.

 Setting stones — no matter the design of the setting (prong, bezel or tube)—involves using steel tools to press metal unto the stones. Steel is much harder than silver, so the danger is obvious. Protection is essential.

A Simple Solution


It's just a strip of painters' tape, with cutouts to reveal the settings. It is still important to take great care with the tool — in this case a steel burnisher — because the tape will only protect against light scratches. If you really dig into the silver, you will be back to filing and sanding for hours! If the damage is bad enough, you might have to remove the settings (by re-melting the solder) to get a level surface to work on. Ouch :-(

Done Deal

Here is the finished pendant. Just need to complete the final polishing and get a sunny day (or hour) to photograph it for my shop <etsy.com/DixSterling>.