I don't really use many larger stones in my pieces but sometimes I come across one that is just too beautiful to pass up! Whilst mooching around one of my suppliers websites, I found this.
This is a hand cut and polished Nipomo in Marcasite Agate Cabochon, with a nice little chunk of quartz in it. I loved the arrowhead shape of it and the gleam of marcasite, and it screamed Iceni at me, so I had to have it. I wanted to make something simple and primitive looking - something maybe Boudicca would wear ;)
I didn't draw anything, I just wanted to let the design evolve as I was making it - but I knew I wanted some granulation (small silver balls!) to decorate the piece. These are created by heating silver to melting point - it balls up and creates these little granules.
I then cut out a backing plate from copper - using the stone shape as a guide and making sure the grains fitted.
The next step was to make a bezel to fit the stone. This is made from a thin fine silver that's purer than sterling - which makes it quite pliable and easy to shape.
Then I created a bail for the pendant. I wanted it rustic and a bit battered looking! So I used a small strip of sterling silver, hammered it a bit and shaped it into a loop.
The next step is to silver solder it together using a flame torch - this needed quite a bit of heat as that copper was sucking all of it up!
With a good pickling (the process I use to remove all the black firescale), I hammered the edges of the copper to add some more detail and then gave it a first polish.
Oxidising (aging) the piece is the next step, with another several polishes to bring it back to a shine, leaving the darker areas to bring out the highlights.
Finally setting the stone finished it off. :)