Monday, August 8, 2011

Biggs Jasper Cabochon

This is one of my first bezel-set stones. It's a piece of Biggs Jasper, from Oregon. Biggs is pretty rare (and pricey!) these days, as it is no longer being mined. A highway is being built over the mine location - it is *only* found in Oregon - and the mine is pretty inaccessible. I free-handed the back plate shape and then cut it out with a jeweler's saw. Once the stone was set, I satin-finished the front because the stone is so eye-catching but in such subtle colors. A shiny finish would have detracted from the stone. It looks a lot more "high-shine" in the picture (the actual metal finish is pretty subtle) because I wanted to get the stone details to come out, so the photo is a little over-lighted.

What I learned:

- less frou-frou on the edges of the back plate. It took me FOREVER to get all those little curvy parts shaped right and then sanded. I still like the curvy idea, but next time will dial down the amount of curves.

- sometimes soldering is just a mystery. I had trouble setting the stone (it's not as easy as you might think for a beginner!) and when I was setting it, the bezel (the part that holds the stone in) SPLIT and had to be re-soldered. See?

there's the back plate, and the bezel after I removed the stone (also NOT easy!) and stripped off the busted bezel. I made this piece in jewelry class and my instructor told me she'd never seen that happen before...I'll add it to my long list of firsts (like having a piece explode...a story for another day). So no explanation for why, but I had to make a new bezel, solder it to the back plate again, and then re-set the stone.

What you may not know about stone setting is that round and oval stones are considered the easiest to set. Odd shapes, anything with corners (which sucks for me, as I am especially drawn to triangles!), and stones that are not even (not a consistent height from the flat (bottom) back of the stone to the top dome) are harder. I think the second stone I set was a doublet turquoise...I'll save that for another day as well...I don't like to start out with anything *too* easy, y'know!

Next time I'll post about my next step in the stone-setting projects: an oddly-shaped stone, with embellishments on the sides of the pendant. A bit trickier but infinitely more satisfying...

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