Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dalmatian Jasper and Sterling Silver Ring . . .

This is the story of a Silpada ring and the stone that had slipped down inside the setting. At first glance it seemed that the stone possibly had taken a hit and the stone shoved further into the open setting and off what I hoped was just a step bezel. Not so.

It is important to know just what a simple bezel setting is and how it works. A thin strip of metal is cut and shaped into the exact diameter of the cabochon, or stone, and the edges of the base of the stone must be exactly the size of the bezel. The idea is to be able to drop your stone into the bezel once the bezel is soldered onto a base and the edges of the bezel will be carefully pushed over the top edges of the stone to hold it in place. Without a good fit, when the stone is set it will shift in the setting and not seat well. We don't want it rattling around in the setting, do we? So a perfect fit is key.

It was my hope that this stone had just been pushed down over the edge of a step bezel, which is a bezel setting where the bezel is not soldered to a solid base but has a small ledge for the stone to rest on, thereby leaving the back of the stone exposed. However, when I lifted the stone from the ring, this is what I saw. The wall of the bezel was thick, much thicker than normal, and appeared to be a cast piece instead of a constructed piece. In order for the stone to have a ledge to rest on and in lieu of a solid base, a burr had been used to carve out a 'step' so that the stone (in theory) would snap into position and not move. [Not a particularly safe way to set a stone (obviously, since I repaired it) and as a craftsperson, I would never construct this setting for a stone I thought was important but probably it was easier and less time-consuming for the maker of this piece. Workmanship is important when you want your work to last.]

I removed the stone by carefully prying open the bezel edges where it typically is pushed over the edges of a cabochon. Once opened, the stone came all the way out and I could see down into the open ring. No step bezel. Jeez, now what.

My solution was to use sandblasting media which, in this case, is super fine glass particles that I mixed with epoxy and slowly built up the inside of the ring so the stone would have a solid bed to sit on. Once dry, it ought to have a bit more durability than before. There are some who advocate the use of sawdust to create a base but I would think that if your hands were in water and a ring you were wearing had a sawdust base, that the water could seep into the setting and expand, causing the stone to loosen and pop out. Just a thought. And I don't think sawdust is a particularly good solution.

I reset the cab, burnished the edges over the walls of the stone and polished it briefly on the buffer. This ring is solid and has a lovely patina and is a real hefty beauty and the Dalmatian Jasper is a sweet little stone. I can see why my client wanted it saved and I hope this one lasts a lifetime.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lovely heart . . .

This is one gorgeous stone. A showstopper.

An incredibly colorful piece of Moctezuma Agate with beautiful bands of orange, pink, green and buff and is striking when pinned to my brown wool jacket. I bezel set in a large open heart shape, all sterling silver.