Working with gemstones can be rewarding but tricky. When a gemstone breaks it can be one of the most frustrating things ever! Don’t worry, almost every jeweller has been there, and a broken gemstone doesn’t have to mean a wasted piece.
Here are five top tips to make the most of a gemstone even if it breaks
Resetting the stones
Remove the gemstone pieces from their setting and reset as two separate gemstones. Either using claw settings or (depending on the type of break and the shapes of the broken stones), bezel settings. You could then attach the settings to ring shanks or turn them into pendants. Often, you can still use your original design, just with your new different-shaped gemstone.
Taking inspiration from the Japanese philosophy of embracing imperfections and creating something of even more value, why not make a feature of the broken gemstone by gluing the crack back together and then applying gold leaf along the crack. This makes it even more beautiful and unique.
Rework the gemstones into an inlay
Gently crush the gemstones into lots of tiny pieces. Using resin and the gemstone chips, inlay them into a slightly recessed form. This could work particularly well for stepped ring bands.
This is ideal if the broken gemstone pieces are fairly large. Using wire wrapping techniques, wrap the gemstone pieces, making a loop at the top to act as a bail. You could even make the two separate gemstone pieces into a pair of matching gemstone earrings!
If your gemstone is already set in a bezel, the crack often won’t affect the security of the setting. The beauty of handmade jewellery is that it is unique and visibly handcrafted; mistakes happen but this doesn’t mean that the outcome is any less beautiful than your original design.
What would you add to this list?
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Elizabeth FJE Design
Elizabeth is a silversmith and student whose works are inspired by the ancient art and techniques of Classical Antiquity, which she studies as an undergrad. Her practice centres on unique ready-to-wear and bespoke pieces and looks to produce jewellery as sustainably and ethically as possible.