Free Video How-To: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Assembled charms to celebrate children.

In almost every jewelry application you can think of, there’s a way to do things a little more quickly, thanks to innovation! One such innovation is the premade bezel. You can find these in a range of sizes, all intended to work with calibrated stones. The bezels can be soldered to the design of your choice and the stone set inside. Easy. Peasy!

In this video, I share how to solder premade bezels (available from Halstead Bead) to premade blanks, another great studio solution that helps make creating jewelry easier!

Making Thoughtful Gifts

I express many feelings, thoughts, and sentiments through the jewelry gifts I make. Those who receive a gift know it’s from the heart. They may not know all that went into its creation, though. I don’t mean the how-to and time, I mean the thought behind the design, the reasons I made it just for them.

To celebrate graduation, I created a memorable gift for the moms of my son’s friends. The gift is simple and easily adapted to suit any occasion, theme, or year. The basics you need are: sterling silver blank, premade bezel, and a calibrated stone sized to suit the bezel (available from Halstead Bead).

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Collection of charms made to celebrate graduation.

Here is the message I used to tell the moms just what I was feeling and why I had made the gift for them:

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Sentiment for card; celebrating moms.

Behind the Design

As makers, I wanted to share the other parts not conveyed in my note to help explain how I arrived at this design, as again, it’s simple. Here’s how I got there:

  • The size of the sterling silver blank is based on metal clay charms I made and shared previously with this same group of women.
  • The color of the stone represents our school colors (blue and gold — I chose to forgo the gold).
  • I knew I wanted to set a stone and keep the design simple — or add their children’s initials. I tested both. Neither worked.
  • In the end, one late night, I came up with the idea to use the stone as the zero in 2017, the graduation year.
  • The font of the numbers was chosen to match the overall feel of those same metal clay charms. The numbers represent the graduation year.
  • I really wanted to make a design that was simple and a strong reminder of the child’s graduation date.

Graduation is quite a milestone for each young adult. It’s also a wonderful time to reflect on all you went through with your child — all those wonderful memories and maybe the challenges and harder times you worked through as a family.

The How-To

Set up your soldering station. Clean the metal so it’s free of any grease and dirt. Paint the blank with flux (I used a self-pickling flux liquid).

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Applying flux to sterling silver; prepping for soldering.

Coat the underside of the bezel with paste solder using a soldering pick or similar fine-tipped tool. I used easy paste solder for this charm as it’s just one solder joint.

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Placing bezel onto sterling silver blank; ready for soldering.

Place the blank onto a soldering block. Place the bezel onto the blank. Heat with a torch (I used a micro-torch).

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Soldering bezel onto sterling silver blank.

Carefully lift the hot blank with tweezers and quench in pickle. (Yes my pickle is green — that’s real pickle juice in my pickle pot!)

Once the piece has sat in the pickle long enough, remove and rinse clean. Place the blank onto a steel bench block and stamp with the appropriate numerals.

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Charm ready for personalizing.

I chose to tumble polish the charms with steel shot in a rotary tumbler but you don’t have to.

Add a jumpring. Add a patina, if desired. (You want to make sure to add the jumpring before you add a patina so the metals match). I used a liver-of-sulfur gel patina then tumbled again for a final finish. Place the stone into the bezel. (The tool shown is the Tanto by Crystal Ninja).

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Setting stone into bezel

Place the bezel setting tool (I LOVE this tool!) onto the bezel then tap with a mallet or hammer to set the stone.

Side Note: This bezel setting tool is sized to fit the bezel. Place the tool over the bezel. Lightly strike the tool with a mallet and the bezel is evenly compressed to hold the stone in place. It’s really that simple!

Once complete, I wired the charms to the card then dropped them off.

Metalsmithing: Quick & Easy Jewelry Gifts Celebrating Milestones. Card celebrating moms and graduation

Next Steps

The gift may be simple and the process very basic, but the gifts you can make with these skills can mean and say so much. This process can also be used to create elaborate pieces. Add onto these basic skills and you can create even more elaborate jewelry gifts! Turn to any of the resources listed below to find what you need to make a new design for you or for your next gift.

Tammy Honaman
Director of Content

Originally published July 3, 2017.

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