Blog Archives

That Rockin’ Stone!

The stone in my ring rocks a little bit when I press on it. Do I need to worry about it?

Oh yes! You definitely need to worry about it, because you’re about to lose your stone! Take off your ring immediately and get it to a jeweler.

It could have received a hard knock and the prongs were moved a bit. This is a very easy repair for your jeweler, taking only a few minutes and is very inexpensive.

More probably, it needs the prong(s) retipped. This is where a bit of material is added to the top of the prongs. It’s moderately inexpensive and will save your much costlier stone.

Occasionally, the stone will need to be removed to do this, and a new seat for the stone will be cut. This is more expensive, but you have to take into consideration the loss of the stone otherwise, not to mention the sentimental value.

Things that are worn on an everyday basis, such as a wedding ring, need to be checked at least once a year for loose prongs or settings, and to get a good cleaning.

If you wear your string of pearls several times a week, it will need to be restrung every year. If you wear them only occasionally, they need to be restrung every 2-3 years.

Would you rather wear that special piece of jewelry or prefer to have it sit in a jewelry box?

Do you have a question about jewelry or jewelry care? Drop me a line!

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Making Jewelry Storybook–Orange Citrine Necklace

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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This is the completed necklace with the stone set.

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

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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.

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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!

On the Bench

Just finished! This is a giant almost orange decahedron (12 sides) double cut buff top citrine in a sterling silver necklace. Oh, this gem is gorgeous! It has sparkle like you cannot believe. I can’t wait until I get some good photos of it! I’ll have a Storybook on this one as soon as I get some nice photos of the completed piece.

Orange citrine pendant

Giant orange citrine pendant

This one is just finished too. OK, I work on a bunch of things consecutively, so it doesn’t seem like I’m doing anything, then all of a sudden there’s a bunch of pieces done. These really pretty pieces have complex executions, so it takes awhile to complete them. This one will have a Storybook on how I made it too.

 

Drusy and garnet pendant

Handmade drusy and garnet pendant

This particular piece began as just sheet. I hand etched the Celtic pattern into it, cut it out, made the hinges, did the hinge pin catch assembly and set it with amethysts on both the top and the bottom. Everybody who got a sneak peak preview at the opening of the jewelry show was fascinated with the catch. (Thank you Jean Stark for teaching me that catch–elegant.) They were pulling it up, unfastening, putting it on, fastening the thing. Repeat. All the extra tight hinge allowances have now loosened to their proper tension. It didn’t go in that show, but will be going in another, and then off to a gallery.

Handmade Celtic bangle bracelet

Handmade hinged Celtic bracelt with amethysts

Update

OK, things don’t go to plan. The 3rd installment of how to clean jewelry has video problems, as in–it sucks. The plan was to do it over, but the weather wasn’t cooperating so my daughter could get in to do the filming. Believe me, it’ll be worth the wait, okay?

There was the usual Christmas rush and my usual “I don’t want to see a piece of metal or a stone for a month!” I’m over it now.

I do my usual slow period stuff, redo the website (that’s the Metals and Gems one), do the taxes, sketch a lot and do my pretty stuff that makes my heart sing. Like the one above, which is a doublecut decahedron (that’s 12 sides) buff top almost orange yummy citrine. I think it’s about 13 carats. Oh, and it’s what passes as spring here in Wyoming, so I’m busy with planting.

Soon, I’ll be migrating the blog over to WordPress, because it has a lot more options and is easier for people reading it to navigate. Yet another thing I have to learn. Good for the brain cells, right?

I had a big arthritis flare, unable to use my hands much and couldn’t sit because of the hip. The medicine the rheumatologist put me on is pretty rough on the system too. Did you know they use chemotherapy drugs for advanced arthritis? I have a whole new respect for people going through chemotherapy–they take a lot more than I do! I feel like a pathetic wuss.

My husband is working hard on the room that will become my studio. He’s put down a tile floor and painted the walls. There’s much more to be done–wiring, ceiling, finish framing the windows, cabinets–and then the big stuff–moving all the equipment in and finding new places for everything. It’s gonna be a great place!

Most of my new work has already been placed in galleries, but I’ll be showing you some of my upcoming pieces as shot off the bench.

Handmade Ripple Earrings

The ripples of sand in the ocean waters…

Conjures up an evocative image, doesn’t it?

Think of the ripples on the sandy bottom of the edge of a calm sea. The patterns they make have a calming effect on you too. The day is perfect, sunny with a blue sky and a fresh breeze.

You’re wading in the ocean, and in the perfectly clear water, you can feel these ripples in the sand under your toes.

These earrings have that same feeling of calm. Repetitive lines, smooth but distinct. The undulating shape enhances the ripples calming effect with a continuation of the flowing lines.

The ripples are oxidized to bring out the pattern, and the highlighted lines have a soft satin sheen to them. The design is exclusive to myself, handmade with a technique that makes a dimensional form, but are still lightweight.

They’re entirely handmade from sheet silver and formed into that wonderful shape. Then they are soldered to freeze that shape and make them very strong. They are completed with a handmade earwire that features a ball on the front detail.

This is a great pair of earrings to accessorize jeans for a little more dressed up feel, or for that flirty little dress.

 

Handmade ripple freeform earrings in sterling silver

If you plan on ordering anything for Christmas from my Etsy shop, do it before 10 p.m. MST, Sunday December 18, 2011.

Those reindeer are slow!

For a limited time, you can purchase these earrings by clicking here.

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

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.

Ta-da!
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

Repousse die forming

Making conchas are usually made with a matching male/female die called a repousse die. There are some commercially made ones, but many traditional silversmiths make their own. To make them and use them takes a good deal of skill, even with the commercially made ones. The commercial ones don’t come looking pretty like the one below. They have to be dressed, trued, registered and polished. Once that is done, then you can start using them.
This pair of earrings are made with small disks at the top to make the traditional round concha design, and the lower part of the earrings are made with a large fan shape from the same round concha die.

The conchas below are the typical round shape. The patterns are diamond cut.

Many people mistakenly call conchas “conchos.” Concha is from the Spanish word for conch and other sea shells, and it gender specific for female. However, in certain countries it is also slang for a specific part of the female anatomy. It’s not a nice slang word, so if you’re south of the U.S. border, feel free to use the word “concho”!

Copyright 2011 by Katherine Palochak

Fold forming

One of the techniques I use in some of my work is called fold forming. It can have soft folds that make metal look like fabric, sharp folds that cause the metal to stretch into three-dimensional forms, or a combination of folding and forging to make fantastical forms. The picture below is an example of a soft fold.
The leaves are an excellent example of fold forming because they have a central spine.

Here’s a leaf pendant made in an Art Nouveau style.

You can get great dimensional shape like these 3-D flowers and cups. These are more appropriate for sculpture, hollow ware and decorative elements.

This is a big leaf and a boat shape.


I like the fold forming techniques for their organic nature, but I lean more towards the score folding techniques because they’re more easily adapted to jewelry.

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