A mixture of photos, blog posts and general information about how I work and new processes in the workshop.


Raised blue sea glass nugget engagement ring commission

I thought it was time to write a post detailing the process of setting a small piece or 'cabochon' of sea glass into a ring, not least the painstaking hand shaping involved. Sea glass is nowhere near as strong as the majority of gemstones, glass is obviously easily breakable, and despite having rolled around in the ocean for unknown lengths of time, sometimes decades, gaining its gorgeous texture and frosted exterior, one small slip of my tool or drill renders my hard gained beach treasure nothing more than a splinter of sharp, unusable coloured glass. 

I use a grinding stone flat on my bench, soaked in water, and I keep the work liberally sprinkled with water whilst I work. This stops any glass dust from flying around, and keeps the piece cool too.  The glass is carefully dragged up and down the stone, turning as I go, the aim being to make a rounded edge to my cabochon. The bottom is easily smoothed to make setting more straight forward, and eliminates the rocking that sometimes happens when setting irregular shaped stones or other materials. 

It can sometimes take a good hour or so to get the little 'gem' of sea glass to the right shape and thickness, and in the meantime, my hands have taken quite a hammering!  It's not unusual to find the tips of my fingers are somewhat smoother than they were at the beginning!  I find microporous tape wrapped around the fingers quite useful at times like these. And lashings of hand cream!

So the glass I have carefully shaped to fit, is popped into the fine silver bezel, which I made to fit the ring band - and the silver bezel edge is gently pushed over the glass wth a pusher tool to hold it in the bezel securely.  It is smoothed down using a polished burnisher, taking care not to slip and scratch the glass.

I find the glass will easily withstand a short spin in the tumber with stainless steel shot, but not too long about 15 mins is probably enough, I don't want to loosen the setting, or lose any of the frosted texture of the glass.  Once the ring is totally dry, a little polish with wire wool gives me the final warm polish I really like, and it won't harm the glass.  To protect it though, I usually place my thumb over it whilst I do any last minute polishing.
Simple 5x2.5mm sterling silver band, with rare mid-blue sea glass cabochon. All recycled materials.

I love the way the light catches the sea glass, it appears to glow from within - but then that's why we all love sea glass isn't it?!

Kate,  June 2014