This guide is intended to provide an index and glossary of the various technical terms frequently found during the process of making silver jewellery.
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Claw setting. Essentially this is where a silver wire is bent or manipulated into the shape of a claw.
Bezel setting. This is where the entire stone is set underneath a solid flap or edge of silver.
Pave setting. Similar to the claw, small grains of silver are pushed over round gemstones and are set in a pattern close to each other.
Channel setting. Used for square cut gemstones, two small silver walls are made to sandwiched rows of stones. No silver is visible between the gemstones.
Annealing is the method of softening the metal with heat prior to making or repairing it. With silver the annealing temperature is between 1110-1200F (the melting point of silver is 1635F). After annealing the metal should be quenched (or cooled) once it has it dropped below 930F.
To mass produce an item in large quantities a process of casting can be employed. There are various casting methods that can be used including the lost wax, mould or cuttlefish casting techniques.
The opposite method to repousse whereby lines or grooves are dug directly into the surface of the metal with a steel tool. Another verb would be indenting.
To create spheres or domes from silver. a common technique is to use a swaging or doming block into which the molten silver can be poured.
Forging is the method of curving, stretching, flattening and shaping the silver by applying force from different directions with different shaped hammers.
Joining different parts of the silver by using purely heat and not solder i.e. the metal fuses together.
Lines or shapes can be grooved or cut of the silver and then another metal, wood, stone etc can be laid into the channels or grooves.
A tool used for shaping jewellery items. For rings, they are known as "Triblets" or Ring"mandrels" which is a long tapered tool made of steel that is marked in ring sizes from A to Z. (mandrels are used for more than just stretching rings e.g. bezels). The ring "mandral" is sometimes also used for shaping and forming rings.
A technique whereby the surface of the metal is decorated in such a way as to resemble the grains of a wood. It can be achieved using layers of metals of a different colour soldered together.
The process of using chemicals to clean the metal after it has been heated. When the silver is heated, oxides appear of the surface which then can be removed by pickling. We use alum although Sulphuric acid is more than effective.
"Repousse" is the art of working with punches from the back of an item to form lines and shapes to create a 3 dimensional effect from the front.
The art of making veins or fibres, for example a leaf, appear across the silver. Reticulation can be achieved by repeating various heat treatments at different stages.
Details of the composition of silver jewellery can be found on this site.