Somewhere along the way, humans felt the need to adorn themselves with
the beautiful things they found around them. They first strung broken
ostrich shells on whatever was handy, and wore them about their necks.
Farther down the road, we discovered how to work simple metals. Farther
still, we found a way to mine, and crudely polish beautiful gemstones.
Eventually we set gems into our metals. We found many methods to make
our wearable art. We adorned ourselves with it for thousands of years
prior to today. For the world, there was only one method of manufacture,
and that was fabrication. A time consuming highly involved process where
a master jeweler could make a single ring in a few days time. More recently,
casting has come about. Scraps of metal are melted, and poured into a
negative mold while the precious alloys are still molten. Over the course
of half a dozen combined millennia, man found just about every way imaginable
to work and create jewelry with these simple methods. Hammers, Saws, vices,
anvils, acids and other assorted tools were necessary to make even the
simplest of items.
Fast forward to 1991 a revolutionary material hit's the market. It requires
not saws and hammers, but fingers and x-acto knifes. It feels like putty
but turns into solid precious metal. PMC was born. For quite some time,
only solid metal objects were created from this material. With no prior
exposure to precious metal clay, many jewelers turned to fabrication techniques
to aid in their creations. Soldering, riveting, and working the metal
after it had been sintered to its final form. Mankind's love for precious
gems could not be ignored and so it came to be findings and such were
soldered on after the fact, and stones were set in traditional methods.
PMC is not a traditional material, and so a few pioneers went about tentatively
setting cubic zirconia's, and lab grown corundum into the clay. For almost
a decade it has been believed that natural stones would be destroyed in
the sintering process. And so nobody took the risk. A few brave souls
attempted to "cast" diamonds in place in the kiln. Proving to
not only be a costly experiment, but an unsuccessful one.
Present day. This book will teach you about the different ways to set
stones, without traditional fabrication methods. Not only can diamonds
be sintered in place, but also a myriad of other wonderful and precious
gemstones can be utilized.
I found out unwittingly that Moissanite doesn't have a lovely appearance
when it comes out of the kiln. It basically looks like graphite and has
the luster of corduroy. I believe I was the first artisan to attempt the
firing of Created Moissanite, or the first person to admit I screwed up.
Whatever the case may be, I found out the hard way it cannot be put through
the kiln. But it CAN be sintered in place. This is where torch firing
comes in handy.
Create your piece as normal and embed the stone. Do NOT create a light
hole, you'll find out why in a bit. After the piece is fully dry, insulate
the stone with some high heat shielding material like Chill Gel. Cover
the entire exposed table. Be careful not to allow the gel to come into
contact with the green (unfired) PMC. When the PMC sinters, you'll have
major trouble on your hands because the gel will be absorbed by the porous
silver. It is near impossible to polish and looks like you managed to
burn the silver as if it were a piece of charcoal. It cant be removed...
Place the piece face down on a fiber slumping pad. Any soldering pad
that is fibrous and easily moldable will work, but I prefer the slumping
pad the best. Press the piece down into the pad until the back of the
item is level with the surface of the pad. Dim the lights so you can best
see and gauge the color of the metal later and begin.
Light up your torch of choice. It doesn't have to be anything fancy.
I prefer to use a 7 dollar hand held pencil torch that operates on butane
fuel. Run the flame along the piece. Always keep the torch moving. Never
let it rest in one spot. Think reticulation when you are torch firing
Moissanite. Keep this up until the binder burns off. It will look like
a candle flame. You can turn off the torch and let it burn away completely.
After it peters out, let the piece cool down. don't touch it, the silver
is basically just sitting there. It isn't fused by any means.
Now begin to reheat the piece. Move the flame along the piece in a reticulation
style sweeping motion. Never let the flame rest in one spot. you'll achieve
the best results if you concentrate the tip of the blue part of your flame
right on the back of the piece. don't let the flame "bend" or
"split" because your pressing it to hard against the jewelry.
Keep this up until the piece glows a warm cherry orange red. If you start
to see the metal "sweat", then you are heating it to much, back
off a little bit. This is why you dimmed the lights earlier so you can
control the color accurately. Once it hits that color of red-orange, start
timing. One minute for PMC3 and two minutes for PMC+. Its best to use
the 3 in these situations. After you have maintained that color for the
allotted time, back off and let the piece cool face down. Finish as desired.
Some things to watch out for:
Near colorless created Moissanite is actually a light golden green in
appearance when formed in the lab. a lot of money and effort has been
put into making it near colorless. When the stone is heated it will have
a tendency to want to revert back to this color.
TIME is more crucial them TEMPERATURE. Moissanite can withstand temperatures
high enough to vaporize a diamond, and come out unharmed. However for
some as of yet unknown reason, when in contact with PMC, Moissanite will
usually cloud and discolor. However I have found through extensive experimentation
that the shorter amount of time Moissanite is subjected to heat while
in PMC, the more successful the results tend to be. It will take the heat,
just keep it brief.
Open flames are NOT your friend. The point for not piercing a light hole
behind the stone is to insulate it form the flame. In a kiln atmosphere,
without any PMC touching Moissanite. There is an even blanket of heat.
For some reason, the torch tends to char the stone when it comes into
contact with it.
At the time of this publication, I am the only known PMC artist to have
successfully fired Created Moissanite in place. I can report success in
both PMC Plus and Three. I cannot say unequivocally that every attempt
will be successful. I have had mixed success with both green and near
colorless created Moissanite. To improve the chances of success you can
employ a technique pioneered by Toshihide Ueeda. This involves sweating
the surface of the PMC all over and leaving it at that. On a small pendant
this technique could take about 10 seconds after the binder is burned
away. Perfect for Moissanite, it will compromise the structural integrity
of your piece. It will be metal, but not fully sintered. You basically
pass a high heat flame over the piece after the binder has burned off.
The heat form the flame should be enough to melt the outer layer of metal.
This intense heat fluctuation will create a skin of metal that has the
density of cast fine silver, and an inner layer of silver that is the
density of PMC standard. This technique works best on PMC3.
Attempt this firing technique at your own risk. Your results may vary.
If you are unsure about how successful you may be, or cannot afford to
take the chance with your stone or your work, then don't do it. Period.
Set it after the fact and save yourself the potential frustration.
Once again, attempt this at your own risk. The author assumes no liability
for any harm you may cause to yourself, your stone, or your possible eviction
from your place of residency for the foul language that may emanate from
your home if you are unsuccessful.
sure the gem in question is 100% natural. Heat will mutate the irradiation
process and cause irreparable harm to the stone. It is also wise to note
that if you have any question about a diamonds enhancements, to set it
afterwards. It is rare but some diamonds may be fracture filled with glass
that boasts a similar Refractive Index to that of its host diamond. It
will explode. If your diamond has natural inclusions from other gem species,
or other colored particles of diamond itself, be aware that they may discolor
or explode. "Bearded" diamonds are particularly tricky to set
into PMC properly. Bearding occurs during the bruiting process of the
stone where tiny fractures form along the girdle of the stone and cause
a near opaque ring around the girdle of the stone. This seriously affects
the diamonds structural integrity and should be noted that such fractures
may expand during the heating process and cause further harm