How I Set Stones & Polish My Necklaces, Step by Step

IMG_6468 After I’ve completed the silversmithing, soldering, and scrimshaw, I’m ready to set my stones.  I use the blunt end of an X-Acto knife to slowly push in the silver bezel around each gem.  To the left, I’m setting a 5mm garnet into my Artemis necklace.  I work around the bezel like a clock, hitting 12, 6, 3, then 9 to keep the stone in place.  I then go back and push in the remaining gaps to keep the gem flush and level.  I flip the piece over and use the same method to set the much larger cabochon.

After the stones are set, I snap a 400-grit sanding disk onto my Foredom Flexi-Shaft to sand the entire necklace, getting rid of firescale and smoothing down the metal.  I switch to higher and higher grits, finishing up with 1000, until the precious metals are uniformly smooth.  The piece is then ready to buff!  I don my outfit of giant denim shirt, head wrap, particle mask, goggles, and leather finger caps.  It’s fairly intense, but let me tell you, that buffing dust gets EVERYWHERE.  I hold the piece firmly against the rapidly rotating bristle wheel and rotate it to hit every possible nook and cranny.  When it’s done, I wash the piece with soap and a toothbrush, removing all traces of compound in order to do the same process on the next muslin cloth wheel.  This soft fabric achieves an even shinier finish, giving my pieces the high polish shine I like.

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