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So, why is the hottest thing in beaded jewelry something no more complicated than hitting the material with a hammer?
Making custom jewelry requires a trove of various techniques. There are a multitude of specialty tools that have to be learned and techniques mastered for shaping, twisting, turning, crimping, and bending wire of various thicknesses.
It isn’t as simple as it seems, however. To finish a piece of jewelry with a hammered look, you need a specific set of tools – a chasing hammer, for one. You also need just the right touch so you don’t pound away all your profits trying to get that perfect effect.
When it comes to applying a hammer finish to the faceting of beads, it’s a complete horse of a different color. The term “faceting,” generally speaking, means to fashion the surface of a gemstone into a specific design using small, smooth faces cut into the stone. These faces are called the “facets.” Once cut into the stone, these are usually then highly polished to give the stone a dazzling sheen.
Facets are typically flat surfaces, but some historical gem cutters developed a style they called “fantasy cuts.” In this stone finish, they cut grooves into the stone’s surface. This is a technique rarely done by hand anymore. There are now curved-facet machines to apply this finish to a stone.
Hammer-faceted beads, if one goes strictly by the name, would be beads that are fashioned using a hammer, but things are not always what they seem in the world of jewelry making. We offer here a few interesting tidbits you probably didn’t know about hammer-faceted beads.
Fact: Hammer-faceted beads are still made by hand in some countries by independent, small village bead producers. The time-honored vocation is one passed from generation to generation. The beads are individually hammered to give them a somewhat uniform shape and size. The hand-applied finish makes each stone unique.
Fact: Strings of gemstone chips sold commercially are considered to have a type of hammer-faceted finish. These stone chips are small and finished in machinery that tumbles them into a semi-smooth, slightly polished appearance. Gemstone chip beads are then drilled and strung for sale. They are generally cheaper than traditional round beads but, because of their irregular shape, it may take more of these chip beads to fill a necklace length than beads.
Fact: The easiest rough gemstones on which to apply a hammer-facet finish are beryl, tourmaline, and quartz. Peridot, zircon, and garnet are slightly more difficult but not by much. It is generally recommended that anyone trying to learn to hammer facet beads begin with glass beads to avoid destroying more expensive gemstones.
Fact: Hammer-faceted stones are fashionable in today’s popular culture but the finish on a precious stone such as diamond or emerald is not considered wise. The rough, semi-finished appearance of hammer faceting is considered to lessen the value of the precious gemstones.
Fact: Gemstone beads finished with hammer faceting have a more natural appearance than traditionally faceted stones. Commercially prepared stones are usually tumbled in mechanical tumblers to take off the sharp edges en masse. Many of the stones may be treated or dyed to make them more aesthetically appealing.