Category Archives: Making Jewelry Storybook

Making Jewelry Storybook–Orange Citrine Necklace

The gem: a decahedron (12-sided) double star cut orange citrine, 13+ carats.


The setting before soldering, with the seat ring at the top ready to be put in after the setting is soldered.


The setting is soldered and the seat is soldered inside the setting. Now I’m working on the crown with a file. This file is sharp! I have a band-aid on to prevent cutting myself with the file.


I’m refining the crown with a small hand file. Notice I now have 2 band-aids on because I cut my other finger with the sharp file, and I don’t want to keep having bloody fingers. Super glue is great for putting cuts back together, but need to prevent them in the first place.


I’m polishing the crown setting with a pumice wheel.


This shows the completed crown setting. You can see the seat ring soldered inside. This is for the stone to lay on. The crown points have relief cuts to protect the sides of the stone from chipping, and so the points will bend over more easily, since it’s made from heavy gauge sheet. A bail for the chain has been soldered on, and it’s pre-polished before setting.


This is the completed necklace with the stone set.


A little better photo with a close up of the stone.


And the final piece with the neck wire that has a spring compression clasp. The neck wire looks a little odd in the photo because it has a slight curve in it to compensate for laying on the collarbones so that the wire looks circular in appearance.


Hope you enjoyed the photo journey of how a piece is made. If you want to see stories of other pieces, vist the category, “Making Jewelry Storybook.” Thanks for visiting!


Making Jewelry Storybook–Lines Bracelet

 What was it?

The last posting of what I had on the bench, I asked you to guess what it was I was making. I finished it and finally took some photos of it. You see the teaser below? It’s a bracelet, all right!

This is how I made it

First, I started with a bracelet blank; a strip of 16 gauge silver that is 6″ long. I took pieces of wire and formed them into various shapes, and melted some scrap silver into balls. You can see most of this laid out on the charcoal block. If you’re wondering what the white crud is that’s all over the metal, it’s a flux that prevents firescale. Sterling is notorious for taking up cupric oxide and it leaves a nasty purplish stain in the metal if you don’t take steps to prevent it from forming.

All the wires are sanded so they’ll sit flush on the bracelet blank. The wires are soldered on a few at a time, with cleaning baths in pickle in between solderings, and of course, more flux to prevent firescale before soldering again.
Here you can see the wires all soldered and the form pre-polished, before filing and forming the blank into the bracelet.
And now the purdy…
I love the movement of the lines on the bracelet, and how that movement changes, depending on which angle it’s viewed. You can go to this link to see a few more pictures of the Flowing Lines bracelet from different angles:
Thanks for stopping by to read! You can find more stories on Making Jewelry Storybook posts. Learn how handmade jewelry goes from sheet and wire to be fabricated into volumetric and gorgeous jewelry.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Making Jewelry Storybook–Baroque Ammolite Pendant

A lapidary from Canada gave me some gorgeous free form (baroque) ammolite for some help I had given to him on making a concha repousse’ die. There are only a few places in the world that have ammolite. Ammolite is the opalized form of ammonite. Ammonite is the fossilized form of a cephalopod of the Cretaceous period. They looked very much like a nautilus. The opalization occurs mostly in the greens and reds, but occasional flashes of bright cobalt blue are also visible.

The one I chose to work with was a large piece. I wanted to make a setting that was in keeping with the ancient properties of the ammolite, and I wanted something to bring out the color, and balance the shape.

After sketching out the basic idea, I began playing with some things that might accomplish this.

What I started with

I chose some pine needle castings for their strong linear forms and some chrome diopsides in various hues to accent the green in the ammolite. I had to make some tube settings by soldering together some telescoping tubing since I didn’t have the right size of tubing.

Taking shape!

Here you see the tubing soldered together and cut into settings, ready for the seats for the stones’ girdles to be cut. I’ve arranged the pieces loosely to approximate how the final setting will look.

Here’s the finished piece that I’ve put on my Etsy website. Gorgeous, isn’t it? This is why I like working with pretty stones.

Thanks for the stones Gerry–they are absolutely lovely! (And I still think I got the better part of the deal.)
If you’ve enjoyed the step-by-step story of how a piece of jewelry is made, look for similar stories in the “Making Jewelry Storybook” sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Making Jewelry Storybook–A commissioned redesign

I do custom work, and this is the story of one commission.

A customer wanted to use some jewelry she inherited from her parents and grandparents. She wanted a pendant using parts of their gold and diamonds. She wanted to use as many of the diamonds as she could. She brought a lot of jewelry with her at our sit down. We chose the following pieces.

The old jewelry

A pair of gold wedding bands.

 A wedding set consisting of various sized diamonds.

Designing with the customer

We began the process of designing after determining from her other jewelry and discussing what she liked and why. She liked simple but flowing shapes, and she settled on the design at the top right.

Changing old to new

I began by rolling the heavier of the two wedding bands through a mill, and then changed the shape through forging.

I soldered the form together and cut off the top piece.

Putting in the heirloom diamonds

Here you see it set with 5 of the largest diamonds, none of which were very large, ranging in size from 1 pointers to a 3 pointer. To give you an idea, there are 100 points in a carat stone. I made a generous hidden bail on the back from one of the rings in the diamond wedding set, because she wanted to wear it with a variety of chains she already had, including an omega.

She’s a very petite lady and I had to be careful not to make the pendant too large, and I didn’t want to gild the lily, so I didn’t use all the diamonds. Her other wedding band and the extra diamonds were returned to her. Maybe she’ll want me to make her a pair of earrings in the future.

Again, not professional photos, just shots on the bench as I went along making the piece.

If you’ve enjoyed the step-by-step story of how a piece of jewelry is made, look for similar stories in the “Making Jewelry Storybook” sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Making Jewelry Storybook–Honking Big Amethyst Pendant

I thought people might be interested in the steps taken for making studio jewelry. I’m not trying to do a tutorial, but rather to show how a piece begins its life through a storybook style of how it comes to be. So here’s the first story:

No fancy photos here, just shot off my bench as I’m working. This one began with a stone that I picked up from a gem show. You can see some of the other amethysts at this particular show, including the one featured below at this link:

The honking big amethyst

So here’s the stone. It’s a big honking amethyst that’s over 20 carats, beautiful saturated royal purple color with flashes of violet. Its cut is nice, but because of its size, it has to be set carefully so the point doesn’t make contact with someone’s skin. You can see a substantial bezel that I’ve made sitting right behind the amethyst.

Here you see the bezel with a shoulder bearing soldered in. The bearing will support the amethyst.

Adding the details

Now you see the setting made with some scroll work and it has been cut out of the background sheet and pre-polished.

And here’s the finished pendant with a generous hidden bail.

It has since gone to a gallery in Laramie, WY. The owner’s wife was more than helpful in helping him choose what to put in, and this was the first piece she glommed onto.

If you’ve enjoyed the step-by-step story of how a piece of jewelry is made, look for similar stories in the “Making Jewelry Storybook” sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Making Jewelry Storybook~Tufa cast jewelry

Tufa casting is cast directly into a rock called tufa. It is carved, then cast with molten metal. Below, you’ll see the steps taken for the piece above. This was also featured in a trade magazine called Lapidary Journal, and a general publication called Big Sky Magazine/Art. It is now at The Jeweler Gallery in Laramie, WY.

The raw stone

First, the tufa is cut into blocks.

Then the design is carved into the rock with a variety of instruments. In one block is the design, and the other block is the backer.

The carving tools

The tufa is actually pretty soft before it’s stabilized, so I’m able to use knives, wax carving tools, dental instruments and clay carvers.

Pouring the molten metal

Then the model is sooted up, so it will release easily. The two blocks are bound together and molten metal is poured into the model.

Breaking out the casting

Here’s how the casting looks after it comes out of the mold. Doesn’t look like much, does it? All of the vents and pouring gate has to be cut off, then the remaining casting is filed and sanded into its final shape.

Here’s the working design. It has olive jade, peridots and pink mother-of-pearl.

Here’s another tufa piece that was modeled after the shadows on a snowdrift. It is now at The Jeweler Gallery in Laramie, WY

You can see more views of the one below at
You can see more views of the piece below at

If you’ve enjoyed the step-by-step story of how a piece of jewelry is made, look for similar stories in the “Making Jewelry Storybook” sections.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak