Making a Cameo Setting Using Filigree
Step One - Selecting Your Filigree
It is important to choose a filigree component that best suits the piece you are going to encase. It helps if you lay the cameo and the filigree side by side and compare the sizes. Keep in mind that you are going to need plenty of metal to work with.
In this example Guyot filigree style number 9526 was selected because it is a basic oval shape like the cameo, it provides us with the extra metal we need, and it is well made and durable while malleable enough for manipulating.
Step two - Create Your Basic Plan
Start by laying your cameo or cabochon on top of the filigree component. Take some time to study and see where you want to locate a set of four prongs. Visualize how you want your finished piece to look.
Move your piece around a bit to find just the right location. You never know what a slight change in angle might reveal. In our example, optimum layout appears to be straight forward and centered.
Step Three - Outline the Cameo on the Filigree Finding
Trace an outline of the cameo or cabochon with a permanent marker on the back side of the filigree. These marks will not show when the setting is complete and the cameo is mounted. A "Sharpie Fine Point" works well for this step.
Be sure to trace on the back or rough side of the filigree. This is the side that will be covered with your cameo, and the front of the filigree, with its smooth and detailed surface, will serve as your finished back.
Step 4 - Cutting the filigree
Decide what part of the filigree you will use for prongs, and begin cutting the metal away from the filigree to expose the prongs. Fold the two opposite prongs over to make sure the cameo and filigree placement are good and to see how the mounted piece is going to look before continuing on.
You can see in this photo that the two components have a symmetrical match. The positioning is well balanced and should provide the finished piece with the strength and stability we need.
Step 5 - Make the Second Set of Prongs and Remove Excess Material
Now you want to select the second set of prongs from the filigree and remove the remaining metal. (We used Jewelers' Shears.) Be sure to smooth any rough edges caused by the cutting. This can be done using a rotary tool with a pumice wheel, or sand paper. 400 or 800 grit sand paper is easy to control and leaves the edges smooth so they won't catch on clothing or fabric.
This is how your
filigree setting should look once you
have made the prongs and cut away the salvage. Note how we trimmed around the top of the
filigree as well so that it would not interfere with the loop carved
into the cameo.
Step 6 - Mount the Cameo and Bend the Prongs
This last step seems the easiest but it should not be taken lightly, because once you have bent the prongs over the cameo you are not going to want to undo them, so if you want to patina or finish your filigree setting in any way now is the time. Once that is done, place the stone centered onto your custom made filigree setting and bend or burnish the prongs over the stone. (We set the prongs using a pair of Jewelers' Parallel Pliers.)
And voila! This is how your completed piece should look. Easier than you thought, wasn't it? Now its time to plan your next piece. Using Guyot filigree components will open a whole new world of jewelry design for you.
Thank you to Rina Burch of Varina Designs for sharing her design and fabrication technique. Rina teaches jewelry making in Georgia. We hope this has been informative and helpful to you in your jewelry making practice.
Guyot Brothers is a manufacturer of filigrees and decorative brass stampings. The minimum order to purchase items from the Guyot line is one gross (144 pieces) per item number ordered. There are, however, a number of jewelry finding re-sellers, who carry many Guyot items and sell in smaller quantities. We encourage you to contact them if your requirements are in the dozens or single pieces range.
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