Granulation 101: How to Add Texture and Interest to Your Metal Jewelry Designs with an Ancient Technique
As a jewelry maker, do you ever find yourself just obsessed with a particular style, technique, or design motif? For me, over the past few years, one of those obsessions has been granulation. I love dots in general; polka dots on clothes and housewares are such happy, stylish designs, both classic and youthful in nature. I read somewhere that circles are the most pleasing shapes to the eye, whether found in nature or applied purposefully. One dot, three dots, countless dots–they make me smile.
So it’s no surprise that I love granulation in jewelry. It’s interesting that most of the granulated jewelry I see is antique or estate, sometimes very antique ancient museum jewelry. But I’m starting to see it more often in modern designs. I see liquid enamel dots in enameled jewelry designs. I see textured dots and circles hammered into metal, and the soft soldered jewelry craze is full of fun little accent dots. But more and more recently, I’m seeing modern artisan jewelry with a granulated, dotty texture.
Granulation is defined as the “act or process of granulating.” Specifically, granulating involves using a flame to turn bits of metal into granules or tiny balls (originally of gold). The granulation process continues with fusing those tiny balls (or soldering, if you’re using the term loosely) onto jewelry. While the term “granulation” isn’t as old, granulated jewelry as old as 3,000 years has been found, most originating in what is now Italy.
Granulation provides style, interest, and eye-catching places for light to rest on a design. Much like keum boo, adding gold granules to silver jewelry is an easy way to add the value, beauty, and impact of pure gold. Granulation is also a wonderful way to add texture to metal jewelry designs. Most granulated jewelry designs I see are vintage or antique, which makes it feel like a technique beyond reach for less experienced jewelry makers. Not true! Especially not with Argentium sterling silver.
Granulation with Argentium Sterling Silver
You know that Argentium makes the most perfect little balls when you’re creating balled head pins. So naturally Argentium forms perfect balls or granules, minus the head pins. In Cynthia Eid’s video, How to Make Jewelry with Argentium Sterling Silver: Basic Fusing and Granulation, she shares the simple steps for creating granulated balls of metal and fusing them to your jewelry designs. Cynthia also shares how to form granulated metal into dimensional jewelry shapes without harming the granules! What a skill to have. You’ll also learn how to solder granulated domed hemispheres into a lentil-shaped form.
“I like to teach this because there’s just something so amazing about making your own granules and fusing them on,” says Cynthia in her video. “And it’s so easy on Argentium silver.” Cynthia goes on to explain that Argentium sterling silver has a 100-degree melting range (the range between the temperature it’s solid to the temperature where it’s completely liquid), which makes it very forgiving and easier for granulation.
Ready to add some time-tested style and a touch of fun, dotty designs to your jewelry creations? Get Cynthia Eid’s DVD, How to Make Jewelry with Argentium Sterling Silver: Basic Fusing and Granulation, to master granulation as well as fusing and other techniques for making metal jewelry with Argentium sterling silver–or instantly download the video!
Want to learn about Argentium sterling silver making from start to finish? Get all three of Cynthia’s Argentium videos in a special digital bundle at an amazing value!
Updated September 17, 2018. Originally published February 22, 2016.