Anne V Massey Jewellery Ripple silver pendant, handmade, with magenta rhodolite garnet January birthstone

A new addition to my Ripple range - a gemstone-set pendant

I have been taking stock of my jewellery practice this year and I have decided that one of the things I want to do is to include more stone-set work. I have been doing some stone-setting for a few years, as those of you who have met me at shows will know. I feel it’s now time to expand this aspect of my practice, incorporating stones in pieces both old and new.

One of my favourite pieces is the Ripple silver pendant, and it seemed an ideal place to start as it provided an opportunity to integrate a stone into the design in a completely natural manner. I chose a rhodolite garnet as it’s a gem I’m particularly fond of. Garnet is the birthstone for January and it supposedly represents friendship, protection, trust, commitment and love. According to the Gemological Institute of America, the January-born are lucky as garnet is found in an enormously diverse range of rich, “boiled-sweet” colours. It is originally named because of its resemblance to pomegranate seeds - from the mediaeval Latin “granatus” or pomegranate. This refers to the classic dark red stone, but garnet also occurs naturally in almost every colour - greens, oranges, deep yellows, purplish reds, even blues. Rhodolite garnet is a sumptuous magenta. Of course I can also make the pendant with any type or colour of faceted stone, on request. Stones often have great emotional significance for people and I would be delighted to make this piece to individual requirements.

The Ripple pendant already has a loop at the top, for the jump ring through which the chain passes. I made a pendant with two loops, one at the bottom to visually balance the top one. The bottom loop was wrapped around a setting made from silver tube and soldered in place. The tube had a diameter of 3.5mm and I set it with a 3mm round, faceted stone. To set the stone, I first embedded the pendant in a setting medium which is non-toxic, biodegradable and can be reused multiple times. It is pliable when warmed but sets absolutely solid at room temperature. This makes it ideal for working on delicate jewellery as the process can require a degree of force.

Anne V Massey jewellery Ripple silver pendant, handmade, held in setting medium

A pusher, a length of square-section rod with softened edges and a wooden handle, is used to push the metal of the setting over the stone. To ensure that the stone stays in place, the first four “pushes” are in the N, S, E, W positions. The gaps can then be filled in until the setting appears round and there are no corners. The completed setting is burnished to smooth off any remaining irregularities.

Anne V Massey Ripple silver pendant, handmade, with garnet, in setting medium

The piece is then carefully removed from the matrix; because gemstones in general, including garnets, can be vulnerable to thermal shock, the medium must be warmed gradually. I usually place it in a heatproof container and add water, hand-warm to begin with, and gradually add hotter and hotter water until the medium has softened and the pendant can be extracted from it. (The same principle should be adhered to when cleaning gem-set jewellery.)

If you would like to see more images of the pendant you can find them here.

I hope you have found this account of my recent work interesting. If you have, please subscribe to my mailing list for more news of shows, other events and new creations. There's a sign-up form at the bottom of every page on my website. If you have any questions about this blog or about any of my jewellery, you can contact me here.

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