I’ve been working on some commission pieces lately, alongside my new designs. One has led me to have another go at something I haven’t done for a good while, namely stone setting. Or, in this case, sea glass setting.
I haven’t set any stones since I was going to evening classes at Leeds College of Art, and had access to a fully equipped jewellery workshop. However, a friend asked if I could make a seaglass bangle, and the only satisfactory way of doing it seemed to me to use a bezel setting.
This involves soldering a very thin strip of silver to a backing plate of silver sheet, having first formed it into the exact shape of the stone that you are setting. This is fairly tricky for a regular-shaped cabochon stone, with a perfectly flat back. It’s even more challenging when working with a wonky piece of sea glass. You end up with something that looks a bit like this.
Once the excess backing has been trimmed off, it’s a case of popping in your sea glass, then carefully “pushing” the silver at the top of the bezel cup over the stone, so that it holds the stone in place. I had to invest in a couple of new tools to do this – a pusher and a burnisher.
Again, this is a tricky process. You have to push over just enough metal to hold the stone, but if you try to turn over too much, it will crumple, and not lie flat. I made this mistake on my first attempt, having failed to appreciate just how unflat the surface of my sea glass was. One side was perfect, but the glass was much thinner on the other side, and the silver creased horribly. Frustrating, but the only option was to start again, with a valuable lesson learned. I did eventually get it right, and since then I’ve really caught the bezel bug.
These pictures show the finished bangle, a couple of pendants, and my latest piece, an adjustable ring, which is still a work in progress.
I love working with sea glass, and I think these settings really show off the beauty and uniqueness of each piece. You can find all my sea glass designs together in my online shop.