Inspiration: Architecture and Learning

In this project, I was learning to bezel set a rectangular stone, but I still wanted to put some thought into the design. I’ve been very inspired lately by the 20’s and 30’s architecture in San Luis Obispo County, including Hearst Castle and The Monday Club, both designed by Julia Morgan.

These images are from a ranch house in Avila Beach from the same era, featuring an open truss ceiling in the main living area, and a beautiful metal studded door to a built-in firewood storage area.

I chose a tourmaline for its hardness (7-7.5 on the Mohs Scale) as I needed a stone that could withstand my beginner skillset for this type of setting. It can be tricky, in that the corners of the stone must be protected to prevent cracking when the bezel is pushed over. A small ledge is formed inside the bezel, with “safety pockets” cut into the corners to protect the stone.

I started with some basic elements to begin visualizing what the ring might look like. The elongated baguette shape and brilliant green of this stone immediately reminded me of an art deco design, and when paired with some other simple lines, it began to come together.

The next step was to fabricate the bezel setting, essentially two L-shaped pieces of sterling silver sheet. As with any stone setting, the size and fit is checked repeatedly to be certain it’s accurate. Cannot be too big, cannot be too small! Then the bottom of the bezel was shaped to sit flush on top of the ring.

Next, I hand fabricated some tiny metal studs, inspired by the copper doors pictured above, to accent the stone and wire elements.

Then all the pieces were soldered together.  This was a challenging solder job! After polishing, the stone was carefully set. The sides of the bezel were hammered in with a pendant motor and hammer hand piece—no cracks or chips!

One more final polish and the ring was complete.

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