07 July 2015

New Stone Settings for a Baronial Coronet: Material Culture 32: A&S50 Challenge

New Stone Settings for a Baronial Coronet
Material Culture 32: A&S50 Challenge
Julia May

Baroness Anplica was given a wonderful gift from her friend, Baron Lyulf. With the help of Baron Frederick, Lyulf made her a baronial coronet when she became a Baroness of the Court. Using nickel-plated stainless steel, it flared nicely, and fit her perfectly. He knew that he did not yet possess the skills to set the six hand-cut lapis stones that she used for pearls, so he thoughtfully glued them into place with an adhesive which would be easy for a future artist to remove. The stones were displayed, and the piece could easily be updated at a later time.

Some time later, Anplica took it to a local jeweler who could make settings for the stones. They bid it at $65 per setting, a very reasonable price for the amount of work it would take, but outside of Anplica's budget at the time. She turned to her newly-minted silversmith friend for a second opinion. I let her know that the local jeweler was offering a reasonable price, and the final product would likely be more professional than I could produce. However, I would take it as an opportunity to learn new skills if she would buy the materials. She was sold.

I used rubber cement to apply copier paper to one side of the silver sheet, then traced around each of the stones. Rubber cement stays in place while the silver is being sawn, and the paper retains the ink better than the silver does.

The bezel wire is cut to shape for each stone. Since they're hand-cut stones they are slightly irregular and each needed to be custom fit. Once the bezel wire is soldered and tested against the shape of the stone a final time, it is soldered to the back plate.

Once the bezel is soldered into place, I carefully cut away the excess back plate, I also determined that I could save weight if I cut a hole in the back of each setting. Then the piece is filed and polished.

Here are four stones in different steps of the process. The last one is not yet set into the bezel, the bezel must first be attached to the coronet.

The bezels were riveted into place. I drilled holes in the top and bottom of the back plate of each bezel. Then I lined them up with the coroner and drilled corresponding holes in each location. I used silver wire in the same diameter as the holes to make rivets which were flared by hammering.  Once all of the bezels were in place, I could start setting the stones.

Baron Frederick was generous to assist me with polishing the coronet when the bezels were set. I do not have much experience with ferrous metals, and I was uncertain if my fine metal polishing equipment would be appropriate. He brought armor polishing equipment and a multi-tool to an event and showed me his process. I am very grateful for his help.

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