Sunday, 31 January 2010

Prong Set Amazonite Necklace

Taking a gemstone cabochon and manipulating wire to encase and showcase it is one of my favorite parts of jewelry making.  Trouble is, eventually, they all looked the same to me.  Sure, you can vary the wraps up the stone and everybody seems to have a signature way of swirling the left-over wire at the top, but it's still a beautiful gemstone with distracting swirlies.
About six months ago, I ordered a book from Amazon, called "Wiresmithing" by Jim McIntosh.  He gives very clear instructions for a technique of prong setting cabochons, instead of the traditional wirewrapping.  It took me quite a while to decide to try it, but it was a Eureka moment.  Not only do you get to do wraps, you can fuse, solder, hammer and create beautiful frames for your cabs.

My first attempt was a very simple wrap with prongs and no fire involved, but it was a pretty amazonite cab and the simplicity of the wrap really turns the stone into the focal point it should be.
I matched it with some amazonite beads, sterling beads and spacers and a Hill Tribes silver flower clasp.  And a purple ceramic hummingbird for a bit of whimsy.
Amazonite is a type of feldspar, relatively uncommon, and its subtle creamy blue suits its metaphysical properties of soothing and calming one's emotions.

And hummingbirds?  They're my idea of an avian Jack Russell!  Always busy, cranky little beasties who have no idea how small they really are.
This necklace is sold.


  1. That's a great cabochon wrap - it shows off the gemstone well. BTW Thanks for your hilarious comment on my killer spiked cuff post!

  2. I love the prong setting for the cab...

  3. Okay, I want the necklace! My two favourite colours, together, and the most beautiful stones. I'll write you :)

  4. I'm definitely going to have to keep that book in mind because I'm looking to branch out like you did!!

    And it looks like it payed off-That necklace is stunning :D I really love the Amazonite and the asymmetrical look of the piece.

    Thank you for sharing!!

  5. Hi. I just stumbled upon your blog via the Beading Gem's Journal. I love this prong idea, as I, too think wrapping all starts to look the same. I am trying this right bow on a couple of druses. I am having difficulty getting the prongs to bend tightly enough to hold the stones. Any tips on how to get them good and secure?

    1. They need to be filed, preferably with a triangular file, on the inside where you are making the bend. The trick is to file enough to encourage the bend without doing too much and making the prong snap off, which I have done. An alternative would be to use a torch and anneal the wire. Tapping it on with a plastic or rawhide mallet would work harden it again. Jim's book is really worth the money to see exactly how he does it. Good luck!

    2. Is it one of his " basic" books,or The New Look of Wire Art?

  6. It's just called "Wiresmithing." And after I answered your comment yesterday, I remembered that I had another blog post after this one, called "prong set fail." It has a little more about the process and shows the back of the piece.