In this metalsmithing tutorial, you will learn how to make your own textured pendant with a stone setting, featuring a beautiful gemstone slice. This is a great design for showcasing a freeform stone but the process can be used with calibrated cabochons too.
Follow guest tutor Beth from Fitzearle Jewellery's step by step photos and have a go for yourself! This project features various techniques including soldering, adding a patina to stone setting - plus you'll find a list of all the recommended tools and supplies needed available to shop on our website.
Irregularly shaped stones can often seem like a challenge to set but with patience and practice, you will be able to create some beautiful and unique designs. This design features one of our stunning sapphire slice cabochons, they are also rose cut which gives them their beautiful sparkle.
At Kernowcraft, we often add unique lines of one-of-a-kind gemstone slices and freeform stones to our website. As you can imagine, they often sell out fast but do keep an eye on Just Arrived and our limited edition category to see if we have any currently in stock.
For more inspiration on how to use freeform stones, read our advice page: Types Of Settings For Freeform Stones or take a look at our full range of stone setting advice pages.
Firstly, use a scriber to measure the thickness of the cabochon slice. You can also run the scriber along the bezel strip to mark where to cut - this will allow you to get the right thickness for the stone and save you time on sanding the bezel to achieve the required thickness.
Wrap the bezel strip around the gemstone slice, mark with a file where the two ends join. Cut to the right length and make sure the fit around the stone is snug and the ends fit together with no gaps. Add flux to the joint and a pallion of hard solder - ensuring the solder is touching the bezel.
Now it's time to solder the ends of the bezel setting together. At this stage, I like to use a charcoal block and use my torch to heat the block rather than putting too much heat on the bezel, as it can melt very quickly. Move the torch around the bezel then concentrate at the joint until the solder melts and runs.
Using a 180 grit wet and dry sanding sheet, move the bezel in a figure of 8 motion on the sheet to ensure the top and bottom of the setting are level. Here you can check that you have a good fit by placing the stone into the bezel. At this stage, yu can sand off any excess solder with sanding sticks.
Next, we're going to prepare the flat plate, which is a piece of sterling silver sheet that will be underneath the setting. Place the bezel with the stone on a piece of 0.8mm sterling silver sheet, mark with a pen your desired shape around the stone and ensure you have excess as it will be shaped later.
Run the beeswax along your saw blade to lubricate and help the blade glide through the metal. Following your pen line, cut the shape required using your jewellers saw and bench peg for support. Once cut, use wet and dry sanding sheets on one side to remove any dirt or oil.
Place the bezel and backplate together ready to be soldered. Flux the back plate and place a small piece of medium solder on the INSIDE of the bezel, this is so the solder doesn't run into the hammered texture. I use a wire mesh on top of a charcoal block to be able to heat the piece from underneath. Use your torch to heat around the plate from underneath to help the solder run and reduce the risk of melting the bezel.
Once quenched in water, place the piece into pickle to remove any fire stain caused by the heat during soldering. Don't forget to remove any pieces from the pickle pot with plastic tweezers as inserting steel tweezers into the solution can create a chemical reaction that can cause your silver to copper plates.
If you have excess solder on the inside of the bezel, a stone setting burr will help remove this so the stone will sit flush and flat.
Cut away any excess metal from the back plate and file by eye to get the desired shape that you have in mind. Sand the back again to remove any dirt or oil.
Use a third hand for precision to place a small jump ring (the size will depend on your design) in the desired place on the back of the back plate. Apply easy solder paste - there is no need to add flux with paste as it is already mixed in with the paste. Use your torch to heat the third hand and backplate at the same time until the solder melts and runs. Attach another jump ring for the chain to run through and solder to close the joint so the design is secure.
I like to use a wire brush with my Dremel rotary tool to achieve a matte finish.
I also like to add a patina to my designs to make textures pop and add another decorative element. You can do this by applying liver of sulphur to the textured part of the pendant using a paintbrush. Clean the setting in water and use a separate rag to clean.
Now it's time to polish your piece with your preferred polishing methods, I like to work my way through the grades of polishing papers and then pop the piece into the barrelling machine for a final polish.
Now you ready to set the stone! Place the stone in the bezel setting and use a bezel rocker or pusher to push the bezel over the stone. Start at opposite corners, then work your way around the setting until it is flush. Using a burnisher, burnish around the edge of the setting to make it smooth, removing any marks left in the silver. You can achieve a final polish by using a silver polishing cloth for a shiny finish.
All that's left is to add your desired necklet chain to your pendant and it's ready to wear. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it's given you some great techniques to use in your next design, don't forget that although this is a great project for freeform stones, you can also use the same design with calibrated cabochons too. Have fun experimenting!
I'm a Cornish girl living by the coast, inspired by the beauty of my surroundings. My workbench is my happy place, sitting at my bench is where time flies and I’m at my happiest. I take as long as necessary with each and every piece to make it feel perfectly completed.
I am primarily self-taught and constantly experimenting with new hammering, silverwork, and stone-setting techniques - I use silver sterling and gold, I love the combination of both materials.
I take my inspiration from the beautiful gemstones themselves and my surroundings. Cornwall is an amazing place to live and only minutes away from some of the most beautiful coastlines in the UK, what more could I want? All of my collections are inspired by the incredible beauty found in nature.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team who will be more than happy to give you advice over email or on the phone.
You can learn more and find inspiration by visiting our Jewellery Making Tutorials, Jewellery Making Kits and YouTube Channel. Don't forget to follow us on social media and tag us in your designs on Instagram & Facebook, we would love to see!