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How to Design onto a Basic Pendant Shape

Posted by Yvonne Raley on

This little video clip came about largely by accident.  I just started playing with some of my gems to see if I could fit the right sizes onto my new Art Deco pendant and Debbie started filming and shooting photos.  So I decided to use the video and show you how I decide which gems go where.

As you can see, this pendant is cast in 14 K yellow and not rose gold.  According to my latest survey (thank you for filling it out), yellow gold was more popular than I thought so I am making a few more pieces.  The issue with yellow gold is that it can sometimes look gaudy with colored stones.  It brings out the colors of any gem very strongly and if you don’t tone it down a bit by not mixing too many colors, it can look cheap.  On the other hand, I love the way certain pink gems look in rose gold, especially ruby and tourmaline.  And I love a pink yellow or pink orange combo in general.  This is why I opted for a ruby and yellow sapphire combo.  My spessartites were too light, not quite orange and not quite yellow, and they didn’t make for good contrast.  The yellow sapphires were better.


To check out the stone size and determine how many gems can fit, you set the gems upside down onto the pendant using a tweezer.  All sizes need to be exactly the same, down to 1/10th of a mm.  You can also measure the width of the parts to be pave set, but you need to subtract .1mm from each side if you want millgrain.  I often play it by ear, just making sure I have a little bit of metal showing on each side.  As you can see, I was able to fit 4 rubies on each side.  I used the sapphires for the rest.

After getting the pendant back from the setter, I faced another design dilemma.  I had originally planned to pen-rhodium the inner circle of the pendant, but it turned out that that looked weird – I didn’t take photos but it was just “off” somehow.  The yellow sapphires weren’t saturated enough in that size to stand out. So instead of going white, I went with a deeper yellow and had the polisher use 22k gold on all the parts that were sapphire, and the result, in my view, looks great. 

Setting costs for this pendant were very high because we used so many small gems, but I really like the result.  The yellow sapphires on the inner rim might be heated, the rest of the gems are not heated.  The little bezel is not part of the original casting, I decided that I might use different sizes or shapes of gems in the opening, so I will be adding those bezels or settings depending on what gems I pick.

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