Friday, March 1, 2013

New Opal Earrings

I was recently looking through a catalog that contained some jewelry and saw a pair of earrings that contained a lot gems- all the same kind, and was inspired to do a multi-gem pair myself. And I wanted to use up some of my miscellaneous opals, of which I had a few... here they are, and some pictures of how I made them:

I knew I wanted to create a pair that had a small upper part, with earwire connected to the back, with a piece below that was attached for movement.

This was the set of opals I had in pairs- of course not everything matched exactly, so I spent some time trying to balance the layout so the colors and sizes would seem like they were varied but still looked like a pair.

The first thing I did after arranging them into a pattern I liked was to create all the bezels- 14 of them! That took a while! I opted for thin serrated bezels because I like the look of the edge detail of the serrated wire, and because to use a heavier bezel would add unwanted weight to the earrings.

After the bezels were complete I did a sketch of the feel I wanted the earrings to have. Then I took a few weeks off. When I came back, I realized I couldn't do a granulated pair because the bezels had been soldered. I'd have to use a design that could be soldered together.

So instead, I took the granulated balls and smashed them with a hammer! Into nice little coins- which I then played with to find an arrangement I liked. Once happy, I took all my components to the soldering table to solder them down.

But first I sanded down the little discs, which was easy to do because they were flat, by dragging/rubbing them along sandpaper.

Then I pre-melted solder paillions onto the back of each disc. This is a lot easier than trying to arrange the solder pieces and the discs simultaneously.

Then the pieces were all arranged on my soldering brick, and soldered to the back sheet. Above is a shot of them after I cleaned them up with a blue/satin disc. I've also marked where I wanted them cut out with a permanent marker. 

Here I first soldered a wire to the back of the upper section, and then I pierced a hole and then cut out the backs of each stone, leaving a seat for each. The wire was to become the earwire at top, and at bottom- the loop to attach to the bottom section. I shaped the attachment on the bottom section triangular, so the loop would sit nicely at the top.

Here is everything cut out and blackened in Griffith's SilverBlack. It takes a few dips and rinses to get it dark. It still fades a lot. It's hard to get a really black black!!

Next I buffed the tops of the coins, as well as the edges, back to a silver shine, and set the stones. Last step was to attach the 2 parts and fold the earwires. And here's the final product:

That is my daughter modeling them for me. I think I might keep them! I'll have to see what other miscellaneous stones I have in my stonebox!


  1. Wow: those are gorgeous! I love how clearly you write about the process, and illustrate it further with the great photos. And your daughter has a perfect ear for modeling!

  2. Beautiful earrings. I love seeing how you work.

  3. Lovely!
    Thank you so much for the process photos...It means a lot to me, an aspiring metalsmith.
    Your work is an inspiration.

  4. Nice work and a great design.
    Can I add your blog to my blog roll please?

  5. Thanks, Hans! That would be great!! ;) Dana