I do love it when a husband goes out on a limb and gets something special made for his wife. Colin sent me an email before Christmas with plenty of time to get a gift ready for Carol. He surprised her with a necklace two years ago for their anniversary and now wanted a piece to compliment that one for Carol's birthday. The necklace was black onyx and a snow globe agate so I wanted to use a similar stone for this gift. The long oval shape of this agate would be perfect on a cuff bracelet so all I had to do was design it with similar elements to her necklace.
The first step is getting all of the raw materials together. I measured the length of thick wire I needed for the bracelet sides and changed the shape of the wire in my rolling mill. The wire had a triangular profile and I wanted a lower flat profile. Two passes in the mill flattened that top edge and also made the silver a bit wider. I soldered together thin bezel wire for the stone setting (upper left with blue twist tie) and then soldered that ring to a base of silver sheet (middle). The next step was cutting off the excess sheet and filing it flush to the sides.
Once the bracelet sides were soldered together, I decided I wanted the setting to sit lower in the bracelet and not just stuck onto the top. I used my handy coping saw and file (top right) to cut out the oval setting shape and clean up the metal. Before the two elements are soldered together I polished both pieces up (bottom left). Once they are joined reaching some areas to polish becomes challenging- it's always good to pre polish when you get a chance.
Next, I had two long pieces of wire that I had melted the ends of- that's what forms the ball like shapes. Using my pliers I bent and fitted them to the cuff. I had a similar element on Carol's necklace and I used this design element to tie the two pieces together. Next I tacked the wire down with the last soldering job and took it to the polisher one more time.
The last step is setting the stone. The thin flat silver band (bezel) is rocked or pushed around the stone to hold it in place. This takes several passes around the stone. Each pass pushes the band closer to the stone without crimping it until the metal rests snug and the stone is secure. I have used that same wood handled bezel pusher for over 20 years- It has moved a lot of metal in it's time!
The piece is polished one last time then I pop it in an ultrasonic cleaner and steam blast any stray polishing compound off of it. Now it's ready to be wrapped in a pretty box and head off to it's new owner!
Wishing Carol a Happy Birthday and a big thank you to Colin for being a gem of a husband.