Taking a leap into learning how to work with metals and stones to make unique jewelry is just what you might need to propel yourself beyond the limitations of working solely with beads and wire. That’s exactly what Cora wanted to do — to learn the basics of fabrication, soldering, and finishing hand-made jewelry in sterling silver. Now she has a new skill set to work with.
This is what a one-on-one 20-hour jewelry workshop looks like, depending on personal goals and experience. The first exercise is in design transfer, piercing, sawing, filing, sanding, polishing, and riveting, in order to gain experience with the jeweler’s tools and techniques.
Moving on to soldering, Cora quickly became comfortable with the solder torch and practiced various scenarios of solder set-ups. She learned about different flame compositions and solder types, additional solder ingredients (flux, yellow ocher), and how to trouble-shoot solder mishaps.
Next, she learned how to make a simple ring band, a convex ring, and a bezel setting. She used these techniques to set an irregular stone found on a beach in Greece, reminding her of previous travels.
The final project was a pendant with reticulated sterling silver and a cabochon bezel setting. Reticulation involves heating metal to such a high temperature that it begins to wrinkle and melt into a somewhat unpredictable surface texture that resembles a topography map or elephant skin. Although it usually works better with an alloy of silver and a higher percentage of copper than in 925 sterling (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper), she was successful in transforming 1mm sterling silver sheet into an organic shape complemented by her stone setting. The texture was enhanced with liver of sulfur, creating more depth and contrast to the shiny highlights. The pendant is to be attached to two chain pieces from the back side.
Find out more about bespoke jewelry workshops and courses with me in Florence, Italy.