I've found working with semi precious gemstones this year really enjoyable, I don't think I quite realised how beautiful raw gemstones can be when combined with precious and non precious (such as copper) metals.
After much searching, buying, testing and jewellery making I've come to the conclusion that my favourite gemstones are those that are rough cut and natural. Not a surprise really given that I'm very much a hippie at heart, and have a strong leaning towards all things natural.
There's something more compelling about rough cut compared to stones that have been tumbled for instance. Tumbled stones are created by turning natural gemstones repeatedly in a barrel with coarse materials until they become rounded, finishing up by polishing them - to me the resultant effect is that all the gemstones then look pretty much the same albiet a different colour and hue.
I like the way each and every natural rough cut gemstone has it's own shape, it's own patina, and it's own natural flaws. That way each jewellery piece created using a rough gemstone is totally unique.
There are two ways of turning a gemstone into a piece of jewellery like a necklace; you can either securely enclose it with wire wrapping and attach the wire to a chain, or you can drill a hole into it using a diamond tipped drill bit and a tool such as a Dremel, and run the chain or chain fixings through the hole.
Whether you prefer rough cut gemstones like myself or if you would like to work with smooth and polished gemstones, either method will be suitable.
Check out my Top Ten Tutorials On Drilling Seaglass (which is the same method for drilling a gemstone) and scroll down to access the 8 Simplest Gemstone Wire Wrapping Tutorials ...
If you're new to wire wrapping, start out with the simple tutorials first such as these listed below. I'd also recommend that you practice with cheap aluminium jewellery wire first before commiting to more expensive copper or silver wire.
It's very vexing to waste £3 or more of solid silver wire because you bodged a wire wrap, and it's now just a screwed up bundle of unusable wire that's impossible to straighten out properly.
Even as you gain more experience, if working with an irregular shaped gemstone I'd recommend you test out your planned wrap with the cheap wire first to ensure your concept works. Then simply cut off the cheap wire and redo the design with precious metal.
8 Simplest Gemstone Wire Wrapping Tutorials
What To Do With Wire Remnants?
Once you start using precious metal wires you'll find out that they're actually fairly costly for just a small amount of wire, and therefore you won't want to simply throw cut offs into a bin.
What I've been doing is collecting silver wire remnants in a small box and one day soon will treat myself to a silver crucible (for melting silver) along with the other required accessories such as tongs and moulds, and that's when I will become involved in creating and forming silver for jewellery use.