How to Make diamond and sapphire earrings for girlfriend's birthday


On the left are two 4mm sapphires set into sterling silver. On the right are two 0.22 carat diamonds (about 3.7mm diameter) set in brass, with 18 carat gold posts and scrolls.


I have little experience in metal working and even less in jewelry making, so it all started with a lot of experimentation, frustration and countless failed attempts. I eventually came up with the following formula.

6mm sterling silver rod, cut by hand to lengths of around 20mm


I made some vice jaws from aluminium with a 6mm hole to hold the work piece. A flat face was then machined using an end mill.


The piece is then mounted in the chuck for sanding. I started at 320 grit and worked up to 1000 grit here.


Nice and shiny.


The work piece was then mounted in a micro chuck, a second piece mounted in the mill, then the two parts aligned by eye.


0.8mm hole drilled to around 5mm to hold the post on the back. Also acts as a centre guide.



Enlarged with a 2.5mm drill bit



Oops. Off centre. This happened 3 or 4 times, each time I'd have to start over with a new bit of metal. Probably should've come up with a better way of aligning the drill.


I initially tried using a 4mm stone setting burr to cut the seat for the stone. My inexperience really showed here - I couldn't get the burr to cut the metal much at all unless I held the part by hand and wiggled it around, which I'd seen people doing on YouTube. I found that this ruined the shape of the hole however and I then couldn't set the stones securely. I ended up using a regular old drill bit to cut the seat, which worked perfectly.


Test fit.


Back into the chuck for another polish.

The piece was then roughly cut down to length with a hand saw, then the back face flattened off with the end mill.



Cut down to 3.8mm length.


The piece was now too small to mount into the chuck on its own, so I taped it to another piece of silver. A 35 degree angle was sanded into the back face.


I added a touch of epoxy to the posts and fitted them into place.


Flush setting the stone. I placed a centre punch between the edge of the stone and the metal, then firmly circled around, pushing the metal down over the edge of the stone. This was the most difficult part as I kept slipping and scratching the metal, which would have to be sanded out before I could try again.


Once the stone was set, the final step was polishing. I used a Dremel and polishing compound to get to a mirror finish.


Polishing is messy business.


A few of the experiments and failed attempts. I initially had planned on using 0.07 carat diamonds (2.5mm diameter), but practising with some cheap stones (first on left) convinced me to go big or go home. I also tried soldering the back posts in place (second from right) but that made a horrible mess.


Finished!






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