Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Expanding My Skills - Prong Settings

I was particularly excited about the classes dedicated to creating prong settings during my recent metalsmithing course at the local art college. To me, it seems like the perfect setting for raw uncut stone earrings and rings. Our instructor demonstrated two different types of this setting - this is the more intricate but the one I like the best!
I made this setting from 14 gauge brass wire as the glass nugget is quite large - about 18mm. I was also most interested in creating a ring as sizing a ring that will be soldered to each side of the oval shown above (instead of creating the band and soldering the setting to it) as this was also a new undertaking for me. Plus, I LOVE the look!
Shown in the first photos are the brass oval on which the stone will rest, shaped and soldered and the U-shapes that will be soldered to the oval and eventually cut to make the prongs. I filed four little grooves for the ends of the U-shaped to fit snugly on the oval and actually managed to solder all four without melting anything! :) 
The band, also 14 gauge brass wire, was easily shaped but I fiddled with it a lot to make sure the ends were smooth to create a strong seam.  The sizing was TRICKY too, and honestly, I had to hammer the band a bit in the end so it fit.  Next time, I will allow slightly more in the length of the wire for filing and soldering and see how that works!
 The setting is pickled, cleaned and polished and ready for me to set the stone.
 With all soldering completed, I cut and trimmed the U-shapes and filed the ends smooth. I opened them to accept the stone and began closing them to hold it in place. This shouldn't be rushed - just work around the stone gently pressing down each prong until it is secure.
Some final adjustments, light sanding and polishing and it's done!

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