Making a silver branch pendant: soldering twice for double hold

Making a silver branch pendant: step 1, selecting the stones

Gemstones are not ‘born’ in the shape of a leaf or a petal. Raw crystals can resemble a floral shape, but they should be ‘helped’ by cutting and polishing. Not only shape but also the color and transparency are important. Out of this bunch of beryls (a family of emerald and aquamarine) none would actually fit. These were the leftovers, after the six best matches have been selected.

Making a silver branch pendant: step 2, sketching

Gemstones are inspiring. For me the right gemstone is always the starting point for the future design. When all essential elements are present, the sketching can start. Or is it actually modelling?

Making a perfect fit bezel for an irregular shaped stone is quite challenging. The better the fit the easier the setting. The bezel ring is the first thing made. Only after the contact between it and the stone is tight and free to let the stone in and out, the bottom of the bezel is soldered.

Making a silver branch pendant: step 3, combining the elements

The leaves are made. The next step is now bending the stem of the branch from 1,5 mm sterling wire. I bend wire with a drawing underneath, to make it follow the shape.

When the stem (including the bail loop) is ready, the elements are laid beside each other again to see the future shape.

 Making a silver branch pendant: step 4, soldering

A branch is a fragile shape in itself. It is important to fasten the leaves well to the stem. Otherwise they will fall off.

I soldered those leaves twice: first with a high-temp solder, and then – with a medium one. The first high temp soldering creates the hold, while the medium-temp strengthens it.

 Making a silver branch pendant: step 5, polishing, setting stones etc

After soldering and testing the strength of the connection follows the rest. The rest, last but not least. Polishing and setting stones. Stone setting is the most difficult part of jewelry making process. Even for regular shaped stones. And twice as difficult for an irregular shape. On the other hand, an irregular shape forgives irregularities.

The pearl was the last element to be set, with a cold connection. I have seen amazing pictures of laser-point-soldering of a wire with a pearl mounted on it. Miraculous. But I don’t have such expensive equipment.

This spring branch pendant with emeralds is now ready. It was a nice experience to make it.

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