This to me is the final frontier as a jewelry artist. To set stones! I have had a tutorial just about this subject page open on FluxPlay’s blog for months and month. She made it looks so easy. Yet I am stuck, stuck, stuck. Afraid to just DO IT! Maria Whetman of Flux Play has allowed me to republish it. Maybe it will inspire someone else like me. To just do it!!
Ok, deep breath…it CAN be done. You CAN make your own claw setting. There are lots of tutorials for bezel settings, and those settings can certainly contain a faceted stone, but sometimes a little more light and color will show off the stone better. Below is an “x-wire claw setting”, containing an an Aventurine CZ. It’s my favorite setting because it’s barely-there. I was taught how to make this setting by my tutor at Central Saint Martins, way back in 1990. I have added my sketches just to clarify the photos. Of course you can buy claw settings, some are nasty, some are nice. If you can learn this setting I’m showing you here, then you’ll find it versatile because although I’m showing you how to make a specific shape and size, once you’ve made the setting you will understand that the shape can be any shape. The size can be any size (scale up the diameter of the wire accordingly) and you could use other metals too. You could certainly make this setting with 6 or even 8 prongs for larger stones. Make this first, then you’ll understand.1. I’m using a round, 5mm CZ and 0.5mm round wire. Use hard solder throughout the process.2. Put the stone upside down on a flat surface and make a circle of wire (jumpring) which sits on the stone just below the girdle (widest part of the stone). You can see the jumpring is the same width as the girdle. Take the circle off the stone and solder it closed.3. Now make another jumpring which exactly fits inside the 1st one you made.4. Here you can see how by making one circle perfectly fit inside the other, the gap between the 2 circles when they are on the stone is just right. The Culet (bottom pointy bit) is not protruding beyond the smaller ring.5. Now make a number 4 that is at least twice the size of your circles, as above. This number “4” is your cross, but made from one piece of wire instead of balancing 2 bits of wire together…much easier.6. Use a punch with a cross filed out of it to gently punch the center of your “4”. This will squash the wires slightly where they overlap, so that they are no longer one-on-top-of-the-other and instead, on the same plane. If you punch too hard, you’ll sever your wires and you’ll have to start again.
You can make the punch with a big cheap nail from a hardware store (cheap ones are not hard strong steel, and therefore easy to file), just file the top flat with a large flat file, then use a triangular needle file to create your cross grooves. Clean all steel off your files thoroughly before you use them with silver again, or keep those files for steel only…otherwise particles of steel will corrode your silver when it’s heated and your pickle will turn into a copper plating solution…all silver will go pink.7. solder the “4” / cross together at the central overlap where you punched. Now, place your larger jumpring on one side of your cross, dead center, and flux, warm up to set in position, place fluxed solder on each branch of the cross next to the jumpring and carefully solder into position.
I really hope this is helpful. It’s hard to find a how-to for this simple setting these days and it is a skill being lost.