How to Make Stylish Silver and Gold Earrings

This contemporary-style earring set has high karat gold with yellow, pink and sterling silver in an elegant, wearable design.

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Materials and Tools:

fine silver
18K yellow
18K pink
18K green gold
14K yellow gold
sterling silver
torch
mild acid solution
flux
rolling mill
jeweler's saw frame
drill bit
flexible shaft
round file
needle file
hammer
metal shears

Steps:

  1. Start with a flat sheet of fine silver metal. Anneal or soften (so that it can accept a texture) using a torch to heat the metal.
  2. Place the metal in a pickle, which is a heated mild acid solution, to remove fire scale and clean the metal.
  3. Texture the fine silver in a rolling mill using a process called embossing. This gives the triangular bottoms of the silver earrings a textured rusty steel look. The finished product at this point is a flat sheet of textured metal.
  4. Cut out the exterior triangle shape using a jeweler's saw frame, a small saw used for cutting metal. For the interior triangle: Use a center punch to create a dimple in the metal for a drill bit to follow; then drill a small hole using a flexible shaft. Insert the blade of the jeweler's saw frame in the hole and cut.
  5. File the interior triangular hole and the outside of the triangle using a half-round needle file for the inside and a large 6-inch half-round ring file for the outside.
  6. Punch out the donut shape that serves as the top of the earring from a plain sheet of fine silver using a disc cutter and hammer.
  7. Add various high karat colored golds as accent shapes on the earrings. Start with a very thin sheet of gold metal, a jeweler's saw frame, disc cutter and metal shears to cut out small shapes of gold.
  8. File these small pieces of gold with a needle file. The gold accent pieces are now ready to be soldered to the silver.
  9. Add flux to the backs of the gold accent pieces, which will help the solder to flow. Solder the accent pieces onto the triangle and the silver earring top using a propane and oxygen torch, flux and silver solder.
  10. Place the earring tops and bottoms in the heated pickle to clean.
  11. Cut gold tubing to act as a hinge on the earrings. Measure the tubing with a millimeter gauge and mark with a permanent black marker. Cut it using a jeweler's saw frame and a tubing jig.
  12. Remove the clean earring parts from the pickle. File a notch for the tubing and solder it onto all four of the earring pieces. Sand the pieces flush to the surface of the metal using a sanding disc in a hand-held micro motor.
  13. Measure and mark the back of the earring tops. Solder a gold post onto both of the tops and place in the pickle for cleaning.
  14. While the tops of the earrings are in the pickle, form the curved three-dimensional shape of the triangular earring bottoms by hammering the shapes in a wooden dapping block, using a wooden dap and a rawhide mallet.
  15. Sand the tops and bottoms of the earrings with a micro motor and a roll of sandpaper to smooth off any rough edges.
  16. Connect the shapes with a gold jump ring, using pliers to close the jump rings. Solder the gold jump rings closed and place them in the pickle for a final cleaning.
  17. Smooth the solder on the gold jump rings using a rubber wheel in the micro motor as a final finishing step. Apply a soft matte finish to the surface using a glass bead blaster.

Gretchen McLaren, Raleigh, N.C.
Web site: metalformsstudio.com

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