Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 18, 2010


How do you make a simple compression setting for a sphere? I would like to make a pendant using an antique marble. I don’t want to cage the marble, because that will hide the beautiful glass swirls inside.

-Angela in Dunwoody, Georgia


Angela, your antique marble sounds like a lovely treasure. From what you describe, I believe a compression setting is commonly termed a "tension" setting.

The method of tension setting evolved in the 1960s and is basically used to make gemstone rings, and only with certain gemstones. The stone needs to be hard enough to take the pressure of the metal that is on each side of the stone (from 65 to 95 pounds of pressure per square inch), which means a stone with a Mohs hardness of 9-10, specifically corundum (ruby and sapphire) and diamond. With all due respect to the design methods, I do not think that this can be done with wire wrapping.

I do have a suggestion that I feel would be more safe for your antique, and less expensive. Why not try a simple cage, such as the one I teach in the new online class "Lock That Rock!" Looking at the photo, you can see that by following the class directions, but reducing the number of wires used to two for the base, you will end up with a nice four-wire cage. When it has been completed, you can then use round nose pliers to swirl the cage wires, matching or complementing the swirls in the marble. And you will have made an heirloom of your lovely marble, without damaging it.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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