When I first started making jewelry, most of my pieces were “Broken China” jewelry. A lot of the stuff you see out there *waves a hand at the Internet* is made stained glass-style, the edges covered with copper foil and decorated with tin solder. Very pretty, but not super durable.  My friend K, who’s a jeweler and fellow rockhound, convinced me to treat the china like cabochons and make sterling settings for them.

So basically, I look at a china plate as a mineral slab, and I cut shapes out, smooth them, and then set them. The only difference is that these china “cabs” are flat topped. It’s cool making your own stones, but time-consuming.

But it’s been too long since I’ve had some china pieces in my inventory, and I thought that I would share the making of my most recent piece.

The Shard:

I was getting ready to sell a batch of “back stamps” – pieces of china with really cool maker’s marks – when I saw this piece. It has a cool backstamp, but LOOK AT THOSE FLOWERS. I decided to keep it. I have a bunch of lapidary (stonecutter) templates, so I marked out a nice shape with a fine point Sharpie.

Then I dug out my tile nippers (the same kind you get at the hardware store) and nipped as close as I could to the shape:

Obviously I can’t work with jagged edges, so it’s time to grind. I use what’s called a glass grinder; it has a diamond grinding bit and is used by stained glass artists to smooth the edges of glass. It’s also used by weirdos like me with old pieces of china!

After it’s all smooth and lovely, I made a bezel out of fine silver that fits perfectly around it.

Then for the back. I wanted this piece to be a little more special, so I searched for some scrollwork patterns and found one I liked, then I transferred the design onto the silver and sawed it out with my awesome jeweler’s saw. The technique is called piercing.

I soldered the bezel onto the back, added some beaded wire around the edge, and soldered on the jumprings. Then much, MUCH sanding and polishing.

The finished piece, which can be found here:

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