Intro: How to Easily Mount Gemstones Without Fancy Tools
This is something I came up with in middle school I think. I don't know if others have used it (I'm sure it's out there somewhere), but I haven't seen any instructions on mounting stones this way so I figured I'd share it with you guys :)
Back in 7th or 8th grade I went with my mom to the gem show and one of the vendors there was selling loose stones. Seeing as how they were incredibly shiny, I couldn't pass up buying a pack of 'em (plus, I managed to haggle the price down to 80% off. that helped a lot.). The problem was, I had no way of actually using them. Professional pronged mounts? Nope, this is a middle schooler you're talking about. Bezel settings? Nah. They might've been doable, but I would've needed to be able to solder the bezel cup, and I wasn't allowed to use the blowtorch (huh. wonder why...). So I tried doing it this way.
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
- a pair of round nose pliers (you could probably get away with a dowel you've tapered with sandpaper or something like that)
- wire (here I'm using 20 gauge beading wire from Michael's)
- a gemstone (in this case a 4mm brilliant cut cubic zirconia)
- wire cutters
- *a fine file or some sandpaper (strongly recommended) to deburr cut edges
- 0000 steel wool to clean, straighten, and burnish the wire
- *a pair of chain nose pliers (they're always handy to have around)
Step 2: Prepping the Wire
Basically all you need to do is straighten your wire with your fingers, but mine has been sitting around in my backpack for a year or so, so it's pretty dirty. I'm using the steel wool to both clean the wire of dirt and stuff that has accumulated, and polish it a bit.
In fact, the main objective here isn't really to straighten the wire, it's to get rid of any kinks that are present (although if your wire insists on coiling up a lot, straightening helps to keep your sanity intact).
Step 3: How It Works
The idea behind this setting is that you will create a slightly conical coil that looks kinda like a spring. The inner diameter (ID) of the setting will be smaller than the diameter of the girdle of the stone, while the outer diameter (OD) will be larger than the diameter of the girdle. This way the stone stays in place because it falls in between two adjacent coils.
Actually, just take a look at the second pic.
Step 4: Making the Setting
Mark the spot on your round-nose pliers that's the same diameter as your stone. An easy way to find that spot is to place your stone under a jaw and find where it just barely disappears from sight. This means that the diameters of the two are equivalent. Starting a little above that (a 1/16" or so), start coiling your wire around the pliers. Make sure you're coiling downward, so that the largest part of the coil is what's attached to the spool. Once you've got about 4 turns, you're ready to test fit it with the stone!
Step 5: Inserting the Stone
Carefully insert the stone with the table facing up, and see if it fits. If you're lucky, you should hear a very satisfying "snap!" as the stone seats. Anything where the stone is restricted from going up any further is what I consider "fitting." If it's one, two, three coils away from the top, so be it. As long as the stone can't work it's way free by going through the top, you're good. If you're stone stops at the very bottom coil, just add a few more turns at the bottom and try again. You can always trim layers off the top later :)
Step 6: Fine Tuning and Securing It in Place
Once you've got the stone in place, you need to make sure it stays there. I like to reduce the diameter of the top and bottom coils and, for good measure (and for centering), pull the trailing wire straight across the bottom of the setting. Trim the top as desired, file any sharp edges, and you're done!
Step 7: Other Stuff
There are many things you can do with these, such as making rings, earrings, pendants, etc. or using them as embellishments on larger projects.
If you come up with something awesome, feel free to share it! I'd love to see what y'all come up with.