Currently, I fabricate all of my pieces by hand, nothing is cast, and I am able to cut my own stones as well as using acquired stones. This affords me much more freedom in my designs, though it is more time consuming and involves a different process than most jewelers use.
I start my process by drawing out my idea, trying to keep it to scale. I also note which stones and metal accents I am thinking of using.
I then begin shaping the sterling bezel strips into the shapes that the stones will fit into.
After soldering the bezels together, I sand the bottoms flush, then solder them to the back sheet, adding any other metal accents or designs. Finally, I clean up the edges by sawing and sanding them. Once I have the metal bezel and all the soldering finished, I begin to choose the stones for the piece, marking the shapes and sawing them out on my wet saw.
With the stones roughed out, I begin fitting them into the bezels using the roughest wheels on my diamond grinder. Once the stones are fit into the bezels, I mark them, stick them onto dopsticks to hold them better, and begin to dome and polish them using successively finer grit wheels.
This is me shaping stones on my diamond grinder. It has six wheels, impregnated with diamonds , in varying grits– roughest to finest.
If I’m going to carve and scrimshaw the ivory, I first draw a guide on the ivory with pencil then use diamond bits to carve out my design and polish the ivory again. Then I draw my scrimshaw designs onto the polished ivory with India ink.
Using a sharpened tool, I scratch into the ivory, exposing the lines in reverse, then re-ink the ivory and wipe off the excess. By doing this, the ink now stays only in the scratched areas while easily wiping off of the polished ivory.
With the stones and ivory ready, I burnish and polish the metal, then glue the stones in. Voila!!