Jewellery making: Going around in rings

It’s now my second class into the second term of jewellery making classes and I’m pleased to say that although I’m still looking for inspiration on what else to etch onto sterling silver after I finished my etched filigree lily cuff and earrings set, I’m now working on a matching ring and friendship/family necklace set to go with the ‘collection’, so to speak.


My etched sterling silver ring is now ready for its acid bath!

One thing I’m definitely looking forward to is the cabochon gemstone setting we’ll be learning this term in a few weeks’ time. One of my main motivators for completing a second term was to see first hand how to set gemstones in a bezel, rub over or collet gemstone setting.


Gemstones in the rub over and tube stone settings. Source: Georgina Franklin Jewellery

This is the more efficient and safe way of setting gemstones, where the sides of the metal setting (literally) holds the gemstone in place by curving over the edges of the stone. My own favourite jewellery designer, Lilia Nash, whose custom creation I proudly flaunt, uses this setting in quite a lot of her pieces. You can read more about the different types of gemstone settings on Ace Jewellery’s site.

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Comparison between the claw/prong setting (L) with the rub over/bezel setting (R). Source: Ace Jewellery

I’ve already started to accumulate a small collection of gemstones and sea glass for inspiration for pieces. I, for one, am beginning to appreciate the beautiful pieces you can create from pieces of plain precious metal and adding to this beauty by including nature into your designs when you add semi-precious gemstones to your pieces. It is also one of the fundamental parts of jewellery that attracts women: the beauty of a glittering or beautiful gemstone that catches the eye.


My gemstone collection waiting to be set: Lapis Lazuli, Labradorite, Prehnite, small cabachons (blue sapphire, rough uncut pink sapphires, red garnets), Brazilian amethyst and a green Apatite

I’ve been looking at different ring designs that other jewellery designers have made, either as custom bespoke orders or as ready to sell pieces, and it’s interesting to learn how you can change the design of the ring shank and the setting itself to better offset the gemstoneas well as give the designer’s creations personality and style. Here are some of my favourite designs:


Source: Stack Ring Co


Source: Victoria James


Source: LaMoreDesign


Source: delezhen


Source: Diamond Heaven


Source: Sanctum


Source: Bramalls Gold Room


Source: ChincarMaloney


Source: Bespoke Diamonds


Source: Steven Stone


Source: Roger Elliot

Out of all those choices, what has really caught my attention is how white stones, like diamonds and moissanite, seems to compliment the palladium/platinum ring shank and setting nicely, like the Steven Stone one. One thing I’ve learned from my own Lilia Nash design is that rub over settings don’t let light shine through the gemstone as much as claw settings do, however claw settings are more time consuming and tricky to make and there is always the possibility that the gemstone can fall out of the setting itself. For this reason alone, once I’m more comfortable with setting gemstones in a variety of settings (I’ve also got myself a book on how to set gemstones which I’m hoping to learn quite a lot from) I’m hoping to try and make a setting like that of the Bespoke Diamonds ring, where I can let light shine through the gemstone to give it more ‘bling’ and let the beauty of the stone speak for itself.

For the moment, I’ve been trying to decide on my own final project for this term, which I’m hoping to make a rub over setting ring with some semi-precious gemstones from my little collection as well as a pendant if I have time. I’ve already discussed the gemstones I’d like to use and the first I’ll be practicing with would be my faceted labradorite which I’ll use to make a simple matte finish stacking ring and later on, a small faceted blue sapphire stacking ring with a hammered ring shank and smooth setting. This design is what gave me the inspiration for my final project:


Source: McFarlandDesigns

Simple does not always mean dreary or boring, I find the simpler the design, the better the gemstone or design is showcased. In my case, I prefer matte finished rings on a wider surface because this means that scratches don’t show up as easily. I still think it’d be nice to give the labradorite stacking ring a matte finish just to let the stone shine through, but I also like the idea of giving the blue sapphire stacking ring some personality by giving it a contrasting high shine finish to the setting to offset the hand-hammered ring shank.

If I’ve got time, I’m also hoping to set my green apatite cabochon into a sterling silver filigree pendant design, although I haven’t yet researched possible designs that might work. The concept I have in mind would almost be like a flourished horizontal infinity symbol with the apatite in a rub over stone setting on the bottom curve.

What do you think?

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