There are many different materials available for use in jewellery making and many ways to craft them together. Some of the most attractive pieces can be made using semi-precious stones, at a much more reasonable cost than using precious gems.
The term ‘semi precious’ applies to any gemstone other than sapphire, emerald, ruby or diamond. They are more abundant than these stones and thus less expensive. They are also available in larger sizes and a wider range of colours, making them an ideal choice for various types of jewellery projects. Organic materials – such as pearls, coral and amber – can also be classed as semi-precious.
Types of Gem
Three of the most popular types of semi-precious gemstone are garnet, peridot and amethyst. These are all available in bead form to create beautiful necklaces and even bracelets using a variety of stringing techniques and settings.
Garnet has been used in jewellery for thousands of years – it is easy to cut, very hard-wearing and quite brilliant, due to its high refractive index. It was particularly in fashion in Victorian times, when it was often seen in a rosette type of arrangement, where a large garnet stone was surrounded by other smaller gems. The word garnet comes from the Latin ‘granatus’, or ‘many seeds’, because it was seen to be reminiscent of pomegranate seeds.
Amethyst is a member of the quartz family and although its light refraction properties are similar to other types of quartz, it has a different structure which means that a single stone can often contain several shades of violet within it. The rarest examples are large cuts of one shade at the darker end of the spectrum, such as those seen in the Crown Jewels!
Peridot is a stone that comes in many different shades of green, due to its iron content. Darker shades of the stone are more valuable than lighter ones. It has been traditionally used in jewellery as it is thought to ward off evil spirits when worn about the person.
How to Use Them
The type of semi precious stone you choose will often be down to budget and colour matching choices. Once you have selected your stones, you will need some ideas on how to set them within your jewellery. You don’t need to stick to large stones of course, semi-precious beads are another effective way of including these materials in your jewellery projects.
You can look at crafting community sites for useful links to more hints and tips from experts, such as Society Designer Craftsmen
And if you are already setting up your own jewellery business it’s worth joining a trade association such as BJA.
Large even stones can often look very effective in a simple bezel setting. This is one of the basics of jewellery making skills but when it is mastered it can look most impressive.
Another setting type is called the Gypsy – in this arrangement the stone appears flush with the metal around it, in a very tightly fitted construction, giving the effect of having been cast that way. However, you choose to use them, semi precious materials are a great choice for jewellery making.
It doesn’t have to stop at Jewellery either. You can use these beads in all kinds of creations from a necklace, or a bracelet, a bespoke invitation like those sold at https://www.looneylizardcreations.co.uk or even a glitzy hat, these are great for a whole array of creative designs.