Introduction: Hand Fabricated Pendant With Stones
Here's how to make a simple hand fabricated pendant with stones. This is made from readily available flat stock, wire and tubing so no metal casting is necessary!
This can be made from a wide variety of metals and it doesn't require a lot of tools or experience to make.
There are notes on the photos so be sure to click on them!
Let's get started!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
I covered in great detail most all of the tools that jewelers use in this instructable so please refer to that for learning about jewelry tools and how they are used. Soldering is covered in this instructable. Having said that this project doesn't require a laundry list of tools. If there are ever any questions about tools or procedures please don't hesitate to ask!
The torch I use is the Hoke brand that uses an Oxygen/Propane or Oxygen/natural gas mix. What is nice about this torch is you can get a lot of different size tips for it. I generally use one tiny tip for soldering chains and a general use larger tip for literally everything else. While this pendant is made from 14K white Gold you could just as easily make it from Sterling Silver (or even brass!) A couple of really good sources for jewelry metals, solder and stones are Rio Grande and Hoover & Strong.
If you are going to make this from Silver or brass you don't need a fancy torch- a standard hardware store propane torch will work just fine- in fact this is what I used for a few years when all I made was Silver jewelry.
Other than a torch you will need:
Rotary tool (Dremel or flex shaft tool)
Jeweler's saw (or cut off wheel for rotary tool)
Needle nose pliers
Solder (three grades- hard, medium and easy for the type of metal you are using. If you are using brass use Silver solder.)
Sandpaper- 600 and 1200 grit is fine.
For metals you will need
3mm x 1.5mm flat stock (you can use another width/thickness)
Various sizes of round tubing
1mm to 1.5mm diameter round wire
For stones I used Diamond but Ruby, Sapphire (natural or synthetic) and Cubic Zirconia are all good choices as they can withstand the heat of soldering. If you want to use other stones for the three smaller stones that's OK- you can use anything you want as long as you set them after the largest stone is set in place (this will make sense later.) Another option is to skip the single large stone and use more smaller stones like those on the bottom of the pendant- than you can use any type of stone you want! I do recommend Diamond cut round stones as they are much easier to set.
Step 2: Forming the Pendant Base
The first step in making the pendant base is to anneal (soften) the 3mm x 1.5mm metal to make it easier to bend. If you are using Sterling Silver or brass this may not be necessary as those metals are quite a bit softer and easier to bend than white Gold. The metal is simply heated with a torch to a dull red color and then quenched to soften it.
To bend the metal into a gently curve I use either ring forming pliers or half round pliers.
Another short section of flat stock is then bent and the end is filed flat at an angle in order to join it to the longer metal section. The longer metal section also needs an equal length flat section filed in order for the two metal pieces to fit together properly and come to a point.
A beveled edge is then filed on both of the metal pieces and they are soldered together at the point using hard solder. Hard solder is used so the joint doesn't come apart when later soldering work is done.
After soldering the part should be cleaned up using sandpaper and then polished. For a matte finish you can just rub it using a scotchbrite pad.
Step 3: Making the Tube Settings
To make the tube settings cut off sections of tubing that are approximately the same height as your stones. The tubing outer diameter should be equal to or slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the stones.
A seat for each stone is cut in the bezels using a straight setting burr. The stones should be able to rest in each of the bezels level with the outer edge of the stone (called the girdle) sitting right at the top edge of the bezel.
A short section of thin round wire (I used 1mm diameter wire) is then soldered to one side of each of the three smaller bezels using hard solder to form a prong. Now file a small flat section on each of the three bezels opposite of the wire you just attached. The three smaller bezels are then soldered to the lower section of the metal base (using medium solder) with the flat side facing the metal base. The flat section on the bezel makes soldering easier and lets the tube setting sit closer to the metal base.
You want the tube setting to sit closer because when setting the stones you want the edge of the stone to sit tucked underneath the metal of the base part- this is what helps hold the stone in place. A seat is cut into the metal base using a hart burr- all you are doing is following the seat you cut in the tubing earlier. Once this is done the smaller stones can be placed in the tube seats and the prongs can be forced down over the stones using needle nose pliers. If the stones are slightly larger than the tubing you may need to cut a slight relief for the stone seat in each prong.
The prong can then be rounded off and smoothed using a small file or a cup burr. Then polish each prong using a polishing wheel.
If you want to use a stone other than Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire or Cubic Zirconia wait to set the stones until after the center stone is set in place and all soldering is done. If you use any other type of stone you will very likely damage it as other stones cannot withstand the temperatures of soldering as the largest stone (and chain jump ring) is soldered in place.
Step 4: Setting the Larger Stone
Setting the larger stone is a bit trickier!
To get a really clean look this stone will be soldered in place from the back side of the pendant. There are only a few stones that can take the heat of soldering- Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire and Cubic Zirconia. Synthetic Ruby and Sapphire can be used and Cubic Zirconia will give you the look of Diamond at a tiny fraction of the cost.
To pull this off first cut a seat for the tubing in the back side of the pendant using a straight setting burr that is the same diameter as the tubing. You don't want to cut all the way through the pendant -just deep enough so there is still a metal edge present. If the stone is slightly larger than the tube setting you will need to cut a slight relief for the edge of the stone where the tubing bezel bottoms out in the seat you just cut.
Test fit the stone and bezel by pressing them into the seat you just cut- everything should be a snug fit so that when the tube setting is soldered in place the stone is captured between the tube setting and the pendant base.
Once you have a good fit solder the tube in place using easy (soft) solder. Easy solder works great in instances like this as it melts at much lower temperatures. It's better in this instance to use too little rather than too much solder as it will easily be strong enough to hold the tube and you want to use as little heat as possible. Once the solder has flowed set the piece down and let it air cool. Do not quench it or try to cool it faster as you can shatter the stone (good quality Diamonds can handle quenching but Cubic Zirconia and colored stones absolutely cannot.)
When soldering pay close attention to the heat you are applying- the stone should never get to a glowing hot color. If you use too much heat you can change the color of Sapphire and Ruby or fracture Cubic Zirconia.
Once the bezel is soldered in place clean up the underside of the tube setting by filing it flush with the underside of the pendant. Now you can polish the entire pendant (or rub with a scotchbrite pad for a matte finish.)
Step 5: Attaching a Chain
The easiest way to attach a chain is to make a round ring and solder it to the top of the pendant and then simply slide the chain through the ring.
For this I did something different and instead split the chain in two and soldered the chain ends to the top of the pendant for a cleaner look. If you want to attempt this the trick is to hold each section of chain with tweezers so only one chain link is exposed when soldering using a tiny torch tip and use as little heat as possible (this is pretty much impossible to do with a hardware store propane torch.)
Once you have your ring (or chain) soldered to the top of the pendant give it a final polish and stand back and admire your work!
As always if anyone has any questions please just let me know!
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