Three years ago I wrote a project called “Metal Clay Bezel: Setting stones in PMC after firing” (Lapidary Journal, May, 2005). I wanted to find a way to set stones in PMC that could not be fired in place. In it I describe how to make an entire setting out of PMC by making the setting big enough in fresh clay so that after firing (and shrinking) the stone fits. (I didn’t want to make a mold of my stone and a plaster replica to fire in place, I just wanted my stone to fit.) Through trial and error I found that if I scanned my cab and enlarged the image by 118% (to account for the 15% shrinkage), I could print that image and use it as a template to make my setting.
I have set over a hundred stones, in all shapes and sizes using that calculation. In that article I used PMC Sheet for the bezel wall, which works very well. The technique did not require soldering, so it provided those without metalworking skills a way to make beautiful jewelry out of their stone cabs.
I recently had the honor of contributing a chapter on setting stones for Tim McCreight’s book “PMC Technic”. Writing that chapter caused me to think more about settings and to create some pieces that go beyond surrounding a stone in silver. I wanted the settings themselves to be compelling.
I wanted the backs to be beautiful, in fact, why not reversible? I wanted the sides to be decorative too; why not textured even? In that chapter I touch on the techniques that I expand on in the article.
Instead of using PMC Paper, I use very thin strips of textured PMC3. This comes with its own advantages and challenges. This project also features an open back setting, a lovely option if you’d like to show off the back of your cab. In the first article, the bezel wall was attached to the edge of the backsheet, in this project the backsheet is extends beyond the setting and I use a PMC syringe to help support the bezel wall on top of the backsheet.
I hope you enjoy the article!