Metal and Gemstone Jewelry: Learn Beginning Inlay with Jeff Fulkerson

Stone inlay cuff bracelet by Jeff Fulkerson.

I was honored (and excited!) when Jeff Fulkerson sent me a copy of his metalsmithing DVD, Beginning Inlay, for review. I’ve enjoyed Jeff’s projects in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine, and his top-rated One-Hour Bracelets video, so I already knew he was a masterful instructor, and I looked forward to learning something new from him: Stone inlay techniques!

In short, Jeff’s stone inlay video combines making metal jewelry, which I love to do, and cutting stones, which I sooo badly want to do. I really need to ask Santa for some lapidary equipment this year!

Stone inlay is an artistic, very hands-on way to create jewelry featuring the limitless colors and textures that gemstones provide. Typical gem-set jewelry is great, but inlay can be even better—it’s much more stone, much more color, much more oomph!

6 Fascinating Facts about Stone Inlay

Tall inlay cuff bracelet by Jeff Fulkerson.Before I watched Jeff’s Beginning Inlay video, I didn’t realize that:

    1. Stone inlay differs from regular bezel setting cabochons in that you form the metal first and then you cut the stone to fit into the metal.


    1. Stones in inlay jewelry don’t have to be flush or the same height, like tiles—in fact, I think it’s really interesting when they aren’t.


    1. Creating metal channels for inlay can be as simple as soldering a frame onto a back plate.


    1. Flush inlay is achieved in situ, meaning the grinding and polishing is done after stones are fitted and glued into position on the metal form.

build an inlay cuff bracelet with triangle wire frame

    1. Making metal channels needed for inlay is achievable with your basic soldering and metal forming skills, by using frames cut from sheet or building channels using triangle-shaped wire.


  1. There are different styles of inlay, including flush inlay, pillow inlay, edge inlay, and mosaic.

After watching Jeff’s video, you’ll have a thorough understanding of creating inlay jewelry, from preparing the stones to forming the metal to the final polish. Jeff demonstrates the detailed lapidary work involved in inlaying a cuff bracelet and provides an explanation of:

Silver cross frame ready for stone inlay.

A basic frame for inlay.

  • How a stone’s hardness affects your inlay work
  • How to create inlays using stones of varying hardness
  • Difference between intarsia and inlay
  • How to properly and neatly epoxy the stones in the channel
  • How to cut, grind, polish, and fit your stones for inlay
  • How to form the metal channel/s for the stones
  • Lots of inspiring examples of the various styles of inlay or “channel work”
  • Inlaying metal for protection and added interest
  • Tools, equipment, and materials you need to tackle stone inlay
  • Safety practices for inlay and working with stones, and more.

Watch a preview of Jeff’s Beginning Inlay DVD:

pillow inlay cuff bracelet“That’s the beauty of it,” Jeff says of making stone inlay jewelry. “You can make your metalwork the way you want it. Now you control your metalwork and you control your stones.”

Learn more about Jeff Fulkerson and see his spectacular work at


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