Wire and Gemstones: A Match Made in Heaven

Carol Dean Naukam's turquoise and onyx wire-wrapped bracelets
Carol Dean Naukam's turquoise and onyx wire-wrapped bracelets
Denise Peck is the editor
of Step by Step Wire
Jewelry and the senior
editor of Lapidary Journal

Jewelry Artist
.

One of the best things about designing wire jewelry is being able to showcase beautiful gemstones. If you've ever been to the Tucson gem shows, you know how easy it is to fall in love with the vast (and I do mean vast!) array of gorgeous gemstone beads and gem cabochons on display.

Wiring Gemstone Beads
The easiest way to use gemstones in your wirework jewelry designs is using drilled gemstone beads. With the selection of wire gauges available, you can find wire that will fit through any size gemstone hole. In her turquoise and onyx bracelets, Carol Dean Naukam uses smooth and faceted gemstone beads with woven-wire accents and Iza Malczyk adorns stones with wire bead caps.

Delia Stone's knitted-wire gem cage necklace  
Delia Stone's knitted-wire gem cage necklace

Gemstones In Knitted Wire
There are ways to use undrilled gemstones in wire jewelry. One way is to encase the stone in a cage or a pouch of knitted wire. Delia Stone knits 26-gauge wire with her fingers to hold a large chunk of turquoise. Alternatively, a tube of knit wire can hold a bunch of faceted gemstones or even pearls.

  Elaine Yamada's square-wire-wrapped Totem pendant
Elaine Yamada's square-wire-wrapped
Totem pendant

Wire-Wrapped Cabochons
Traditional wire wrapping is a great technique for showing off your cabochons. You can construct bezels from laying several square wires on top of each other and lashing them together with half-round wire, just as Elaine Yamada did with her Totem pendant.

Dale "Cougar" Armstrong's Drusy Leaves for Spring necklace  
Dale "Cougar" Armstrong's Drusy Leaves for
Spring necklace

In her Drusy Leaves for Spring necklace, self-proclaimed rock hound Dale "Cougar" Armstrong wraps ornately carved leaf-shaped drusy cabs into an elegant, layered pendant.

For more wire-jewelry projects of Dale's wonderful wire-wrap art, check out her book Wirework: An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Wire Wrapping, now with the bonus of a DVD that allows you to watch Dale demonstrate, step by step, how she wraps her beautiful stones.

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