Now comes the first tricky bit

Joanna Thomson Jewellery Filing

Joanna Thomson Jewellery FilingNow comes the first tricky bit, translating a few lines on a page into a 3D piece of jewellery. I use fine piercing saws to cut out shapes from sheet, and use various methods to change the shape of the sheet, sometimes bending with fingers or with pliers, sometimes using doming tools, sometimes files of varying shapes and sizes, sometimes using hammers, sometimes my rolling mill.   Wires come in a wonderfully diverse range of shapes and I use similar techniques to those I use on the sheet to alter the shape and flow of the metal.

So I make my jewellery by constructing; shaping and forming the metal to the shapes I want as I build up the designs.  People are amazed at the size of the hammers and files I use!


Solder the pieces together

Joanna Thomson Jewellery Filing

Joanna Thomson Jewellery FilingThe next step is to solder the pieces together using a gas blowtorch – or two at the same time if it’s a big job – to melt the solder.  A lot of heat is needed to melt precious metal solder.  Not far below the melting temperature of the metal itrself. To ensure that they do not contaminate the metal they need to be of the same carat or grade as the metals you are joining.  A great deal of patience is needed for this part of the process.  It’s probably the part that takes the most swearing!!  Solder has a habit of pinging off as you heat it up as the flux reacts, or flows completely the wrong way when it does melt!  Fortunately most customers are blissfully unawate of this part of the process…

I love seeing how my designs emerge as I build them up, adding shapes and connecting wires until I am happy with the flow and balance of the design.  Settings need to be made and soldered into place.


Setting the stones

Joanna Thomson Jewellery Setting Stones

Joanna Thomson Jewellery Setting StonesOnce the piece has been tested, passed and fully hallmarked then I can set the stones.  No glue used here!  It is vital that when I have made the settings I have been really accurate.  Too big and the setting can look uneven and cover too much of the stone, too small and it simply will not fit!  Trying to encourage a stone to fit into a setting that is too small or not quite the right shape will always end in tears!!   To hold the stones the metal is pushed over onto them to keep them in place – this can be nerve wracking when you are setting brittle stones like opal and emeralds – however careful you have been making the settings!

Sometimes I have to leave setting the stones until after I have polished the piece to avoid risk of damage during polishing or cleaning in the ultrasonic tank.