Custom Jewelry Design – Amethyst and Silver Pendant
Jewelry is beautiful.
It’s an obvious statement, for sure, but every piece of custom jewelry has a story and a uniqueness about it that adds to the beauty. A lot of precision work and care go into making jewelry and this two-part series will let you in on the effort and professional craftsmanship that go into that necklace, brooch, bracelet, ring or pair of earrings you’re wearing right now.
This 2-part series is the story of the making of a beautiful African Amethyst Pendant from beginning to the finished product. It is important to note that the owner of the stone had wanted it set in a pendant for a long time and gave Tony only the stone and the chain. He, the jeweler, had complete creative control over the process of creating a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
It all starts with the stone…and an open mind.
You may have an idea in mind for what you want your piece of custom jewelry to look like and make some sketches to bring to your jeweler. In this case, however, the client gave Tony the stone, the chain and complete creative control of the whole project.
Amethyst, February’s birthstone, is a semi-precious stone that is a purple variety of quartz. The violet hue is due to irradiation or iron impurities and the stone can be found in numerous locations all over the world from Sri Lanka to Brazil, to Yellowstone Park. The stone in this pendant is an African Amethyst that is about 16.5 carats.
The first step is…well, setting up the setting. Tony, our jeweler, lines up the stone on a piece of fine silver (more tarnish resistant than standard 925 silver) to prepare for cutting the area where the stone is to be set. You can see this in the second image here.
Tony then outlines where the cut will be made for the stone to be set and will cut out the marked area. The outside edge of the cutout area is where the bezel will be attached. You can see this in the third image here.
The cutout area is finished and ready to meet the stone for the first time for the next step in the process. This can be seen clearly in the fourth image here.
Now that the stone and the cutout area have been formally introduced for the first time, it’s time to position the stone and the cutout to determine the optimal finished size for the pendant. Tony checks the size of the pendant next to the chain to determine the best possible finished diameter for the pendant.
Before we jump right into bezels (we’re trained professionals, please don’t try it at home), do you know what a bezel setting is? It’s okay, a lot of people don’t and that’s why we’re here:) A bezel setting is a setting that uses a raised surrounding and an overlapping lip to hold the stone in place. Here, Tony shapes the bezel that will be soldered to the back plate and hold the amethyst.
Fire, fire and more fire!!!!! Tony meticulously solders the bezel, making sure it is solid and has no open joints. This is most crucial because bezel settings should offer more security for gemstones in a setting, as they are better protected from dislodging due to the wearer’s activity. Hence, no open joints.
Now that the bezel has been fired, it’s time for more detail work. The bezel will have some rough edges coming out of the fire and it’s important that everything is smooth before the stone is put in place. Tony smooths out these rough bezel edges and also removes part of the interior of the bezel so the amethyst will be held firmly in place.
In this final image for this post, you see the stone with the bezel and then the design for the cutouts drawn on a piece of silver. Proportions are checked once again with the chain itself to make sure they are the best, most attractive proportions for that size of chain. On the silver, you can see pencil marks that indicate where the decorative cutouts and additional elements will be made.
In Part 2, we will pick up where we left off here and show you through the rest of the process…including and especially the finished, one-of-a-kind piece!