Professional Jeweler Archive: A New Technology to Manufacture Jewelry with Granulation, Bead by Bead, Part 4

November 2002

Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close

A New Technology to Manufacture Jewelry with Granulation, Bead by Bead, Part 4

Steece Hermanson produces a platinum and 22k gold granulated pendant

This process is being shown from start to finish in consecutive issues. Among the skills covered in the complete series are:

  • New granulation manufacturing methods using fusion welding equipment.
  • Bezel-setting round faceted gemstones.
  • Tack, pulse arc and fusion welding.
  • Platinum fabrication and assembly tricks.
  • Finishing and polishing techniques for platinum and karat gold.
This is the fourth and final part of the series; the first part begins on page 94 of the August 2002 issue, the second on page 78 of the September 2002 issue and the third part on page 82 of the October 2002 issue.

After the tourmaline is set, Steece Hermanson of Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC, completes the finishing and polishing on the bezel and begins the granulation process. The fusion welding process will not damage the gemstone or distort or ruin any of the finished surfaces. Hermanson bought the 22k gold granulation beads from SPM. The benefit of buying them over making them: the purchased beads are evenly sized, round and highly polished.

Note: Performing granulation using this equipment is not mistake-proof. Debris, flashes of metal, poor contact and excessive voltage settings could all contribute to a bead that will splatter during fusion welding.

Special Note

Hermanson will use the ABI Tack II tack and fusion welder and the vacuum attachment and contact pad leads to permanently fusion-weld the granulation beads onto the platinum surface. He changes the tip on his vacuum attachment from one used to pick up solder to one used to pick up small beads.

To prepare the tip for small beads, he uses a small setting bur to taper the inside of the sterling silver tube on the vacuum attachment lead. This allows greater contact between the tip and bead than between the bead and the work piece. It also ensures the fusion weld takes place at the base of the bead, which becomes the area of greatest electrical resistance.

For the best alignment and to inspect the quality of the fusion weld, Hermanson performs this procedure using a GRS Meji microscope and 30X to 40X magnification.

Under magnification, he also looks for metal flashing, checks that the beads don’t touch one another and makes sure he has avoided trash and debris on the bead that would interfere with the success of the fusion welding.

He sets the Tack II unit for 40 volts and on the high-energy setting. Then he picks up a bead, places it into position, applies moderately firm pressure and depresses the foot pedal. The bead is now permanently placed. Too much pressure would deface the bead and increase the electrical resistance, minimizing the success of the weld.
After inspecting the fusion weld, Hermanson decides to increase the power to 50 volts. The lower voltage setting could create a very light fusion weld that would not hold up during normal wear.
The 22k gold granulation beads provided by SPM are evenly round, evenly sized and highly polished. They are available in three sizes.
One-quarter ounce of granulation beads measuring 0.32 inches contains about 1,550 beads. At the time this example was made, they cost about 16 cents each, including the cost of gold, labor and shipping.
Next Hermanson prepares the pendant bail for fusion welding of the granulation beads. He marks the center where the beads will be fusion-welded.
Using the same method as above, he completes the granulation of the pendant bail.
Hermanson designed and fabricated this 22k gold and platinum tanzanite pendant for the 2002 South Carolina Jewelers design contest and won Best of Show. The granulation was performed after the tanzanite was bezel-set, resulting in no damage to the gemstone.
This pendant is hand-pierced, hand-fabricated and granulated using the procedures described in the article.

For more information on this manufacturing process, e-mail Steece Hermanson at SHermanson@FTC-I.NET.

For more information about 22k gold beads for granulation, call SPM at (914) 273-5500.

Direct questions about ABI equipment to Janet Kirk at (888) 494-2663.

This article was sponsored by ABI and Jewelers of America.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications