Tension Set Pearl Pendant




Introduction: Tension Set Pearl Pendant

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

As a boy I collected all kinds of semi-precious stones and things of the like. In my box of  treasures was this silver pearl. I made a pendant and presented it in the jewelry box I made my wife for Valentine’s Day.

Before I made it I did a few rust experiments. The results here.

Step 1: Initial Polish

To start I cut a section of ½” pipe. This pipe is in the electrical section at the hardware store. Five feet cost me $2.00. I chucked it in my lathe and used 400 grit sand paper followed by 800, and 2000 to polish it.

Doing this will make it eaisier to polish towards the end.

Step 2: Cut the Groove

The pearl is held within a groove by the tension of the metal. I based my measurements off the pearl which is about 6.5mm wide.

First I marked the pipe with marker. I followed that mark by scoring a line with a pipe cutter. Next I used a carbide bit to cut the initial groove. I expanded the groove with a round hobby file.

Step 3: Refine the Ring

After cutting the ring free at the score line I filed off any rough edges left behind from the pipe cutter.

Safety First: Use extreme caution if you use a lathe like I do. You have to understand what angles are the safest when using a file on a piece that’s spinning at 2500 RPM. Just incase you hit the chuck you want it to deflect not get bound up. Always work within your experience.

Step 4: Open the Ring

I located the seam on the inside of the ring and used wire snips to cut it open. Next I flattened it it out with a hammer on a hard surface. Make sure you don’t hit it too hard. You don’t want to mar it up.

Step 5: Set the Tension

To get the right tension on the pearl I started by forming the metal strip into a letter “U”. This was done with a pair of vise grips and the ¼” metal dowel of a grinding bit. From there I pinched the “U” shut over the dowel. See the pictures.

When I’d let go of the setting it would spring open just a little. To remedy this I held the setting closed and heated it until it was red hot. Next I quenched it in water. Now when I let go of the setting it stayed closed. This means the setting will want to spring closed instead of wanting to spring open.

The last two pictures are before and after heating.

Step 6: Clean It Up

I trimmed the setting down and drilled a hole for the chain. I also used a diamond wheel to help shape it.

Step 7: Polish and Fit

To quickly polish the setting I made an improvised sander. This was really a sand paper covered drill bit chucked into my drill press. I taped the sand paper on to the bit and just wrapped it around from there.  I used the same grits from step one.

For the inside loop I used the same technique just with a smaller drill bit.

As for fitting the pearl, I used a small flat head screwdriver to pry the setting open; just enough. I slipped the pearl in the groove and removed the screwdriver.

Finally, I put it on a silver chain and placed it in the jewelry box I made. Thanks for reading.

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22 Discussions

I would imagine a good polish inside and out with Renaissance Wax would help delay any rusting that might occur, especially where the zinc and zinc alloy have been compromised when making the indentation. As the comprimised area is on the inside of the pendent the wax barrier would take longer to wear off.

Beautiful piece of jewellery, I will make one for my daughter. I have read your instructions through several times and would ask for clarification at Step 2. You mark the 6mm point on the tube which will allow the pearl to putrude a little either side. You then scored that line with a pipecutter. I assume that the initial groove you then refer to is a second score line on the tube that you make at the 3 mm mid point and this is then expanded with the file. How wide do you expand this too? I assume this is a wide shallow indent that will cup the side of the pearl. Sorry if I'm being a bit dense, but I'd hate to make a mistake for the want of asking a question. Again beautiful piece of work. I sometimes wish that it was my husband who was the handy one so that he could make me pieces like this. If I want one I'll have to make it myself, not quite the same thing.


2 years ago

The jesture still bigger than the gift.

The electrical pipe you used is called condulet. It rusts later on. You've already invested in a silver chain, why didn't you buy a silver strip instead of that condulet?

This is cool and simple. I want to try it but I might cut grooves in the metal to give it some more texture.

I absolutely love it! Wish I had those types of things here in my home, I'd make them for myself! :D

The one shown is a silver box chain. I think I got it from Target for about $15.00. Though sometimes I use fashion chain which you can get at the craft store, 6' for $3.00.

very pretty! I have a loose pearl, i want to try this!!!!!!!

Change of subject. In another of your 'ibles you said you used stainless paperclips. Where do those come from? I really like this pendant and your instruction are very complete and clear. Thanks.

1 reply

The paper clips I use are just the common ones you find at any store. If I wrote that maybe you could let me know on which ible so I can correct it. Thanks for the comment.

Incredibly pretty and very sweet! Where did you get the pearl? I'm also curious as to how pearl would react with the metal, would it?

1 reply

The pearl came from Sea World during the 1980's. I'll keep you posted on any metal pearl reactions.

Interesting idea you've got here!

How did you polish the inside of the loop where the ends meet?