Thursday, March 5, 2015

3.5.15 A diamond is forever (or at least a really, really long time).

Frances Gerety, the advertising agent who spent her entire career working on the DeBeers account, coined the phrase "a diamond is forever" in 1947; it was kind of a throw away line, but it stuck...and I confess to buying into it.  I've spent a fair amount of time, money and creative energy giving family heirloom diamonds new life.  Finally, I have found homes for the last of the stragglers.  

Two dozen tiny diamonds
These were the last few, tiny old European cut stones, most no more than a millimeter or two, taken from my great grandmother's wedding ring.  I had more than one jeweler tell me they had virtually no monetary value, but I kept thinking they're diamonds, I must be able to do SOMETHING with them.  Well, now I have.

This week I went back to Creative Side Jewelry Academy, where I made my crescent moon pendant, and with the assistance of Wynn Bradford, set three of the diamonds in the "crater".

Inspecting the diamonds
The first step in the process was to examine all the diamonds, and choose the best ones for setting.  After putting them in an ultrasonic cleaner, Wynn lined them all up, balanced on their culets (the point on the back of the stone), to determine their symmetry and how well they were cut.

We chose the five stones with the best color and shape.  Next it was time to determine the placement for three of them in the pendant and mark them with a sharpie.

Marking the positions for the stones
Flush setting, which is the technique we used, is the simplest form of stone setting.  It involves drilling into the metal with a burr, to create a cone-shaped void in which to place the diamond.  After the stone is set into the metal, a sharp tool, called a burnisher, is used to push the metal down over the top edge of the stone to hold it in place.

The process sounds pretty straightforward, but nothing is ever as easy as it looks (especially when a professional is demonstrating).  Before attempting to set the stones in the pendant, I tried a couple of practice runs with some CZs on a piece of scrap.

Practicing a flush setting
Even with stones that were twice the size of my diamonds, it was a real challenge to get it right.  Especially the burnishing, which requires running a very sharp point around the edge of the stone - I ended up putting some pretty good scratches in what would be the piece of jewelry (good thing it was scrap).

Sensing my hesitation, Wynn offered to set the diamonds into the pendant for me.  I'm glad he did - I learned a lot just by watching, and the result is beautiful.

"Floating" diamond pendant

After finishing my pendant, I still had twenty or so tiny diamonds left over, and didn't want to just put them back in the little ziploc bag to continue languishing.  My friend Jonathan (of the sapphire earrings) had suggested getting a small crystal locket, and putting the loose stones to make a "floating diamond" pendant.  So that's exactly what I did.

Now, all the diamonds have a place, and I have two wonderful pieces of new jewelry with my old stones.  Lucky me.

My finished Moon and Stars pendant

Until next time.

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