A design challenge that I faced was how to attach the pearl settings.
The customer wanted a pearl to be placed between the round peridots, but the pearls could not be attached before the Gold plating was done. Her solutions was to solder the head pins that she wanted to use to the piece and then after the plating she would cut the head pins, slip on the pearls, and then glue the balled end of the head pin into the pearls. The problem, first of all, is that it was not a very strong connection to solder a small piece of wire to the side of the piece. The head pin could be just snapped off at any time, not to mention how difficult it would have been to set the stones around such a small wire without mangling it or breaking it off myself. Of course there is also the problem with having just a little bit of glue holding the pearls on in one small spot.
I experimented and tried to solder a wire with a soldering iron, in the hopes that maybe I could solder it on after the plating was done and with the pearls in place, so there would be no need for glue. Unfortunately, it didn't work, the soldering iron was just not hot enough to flow the gold filled solder that I had.
I finally came up with a solution by the time it came to solder on the head pin that I found satisfactory.
My solution: to solder on small pieces of tubing with a tapered end. I nippled the end of the tubing in order to make the hole small enough for the head pin to be inserted with a tight fit. This way the head pin could be glued to the pearl and the tubing, hopefully creating a stronger bond. I also reamed out the pearls just enough to fit tightly on the head pin. I reamed a larger hole at one end of each pearl for them to slip slightly over the tube, thus being able to be glued directly to the tubing, again, creating a stronger bond. Another issue was that we were afraid the pearls she gave me might be a little too small in relation to the size of the piece. Adding the tubing pushed the pearls out further balancing the relationship of size of the pearls with the layout of the whole piece giving the impression of a larger pearl.
More process photos to follow.
You can check out my original post to see where I started.
Original Post: http://hollycarter.blogspot.com/2011/11/custom-commission.html