Daily Wire Tip March 3: Wrapping Small Stones

By on March 3, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
March 03, 2010


I was given two very fiery opal cabs that measure 9 x 6 mm.  Can I wire wrap something this size and this fragile?  What else can I do with them?


Answering from personal experience, if you are a well-seasoned wire artist, use 24g sq soft wire with 21g 1/2 round for wraps – and you can make either a lovely pair or earrings or a double cab pendant! I suggest working ‘off the stone’ which means create your frame around an item that is the same size, (like another cab) and make the frame just a tiny bit larger than you would on a harder stone; pull the wires on the top first, then remove the substitute cab and insert the opal, finish by making the pulls needed on the back, locking the opal into the frame. (I wouldn’t use them in a high traffic item such as a ring or bracelet though.)

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Mary Phillips

    March 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I enclosed opals with a “flower” shape made using delicas. The gold delicas actually pulled light through the stone to make them even more beautiful. I have pics if anyone is interested, just couldn’t figure out how to post it here. I can also be emailed on my Etsy site.

  2. avatar

    Alex Netherton

    March 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Dale;
    My teacher, an old man from Alaska, taught me to make rings, and when he thought I was good enough, gave me an opal cab to set for my wife. He would not give it to me until he thought I was “ready”, and when he gave it to me, I was able to make the ring (a “Pharaoh” style) without breaking the stone, though my wife washed dishes with it a couple of times, and finally broke it.

    Opal certainly needs to be out of high traffic areas! Only wear if you think it will be OK in your activities for that day. I wouldn’t get into disco dancing with one! (grin!)

  3. avatar

    Suzanne Parish

    March 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    My husband cuts and polishes opals so I am very familiar with setting them and doing the wire work around them. I do a prong setting that allows a strong setting that just “hugs” the stone and protects the sides of the Opal. Opals need to have a setting that lets the maximum amount of light into the setting but is stable in the setting with the lightest amount of contact possible. Be sure the stone does not move in the setting at all, as that is an accident waiting to happen. Don’t be afraid of Opals, but do take the time to educate your self on them so you can inform your customers. We love the great colors in the Opals and enjoy showing off the array of colors that they offer. Good luck!
    Suz from Kalamazoo

  4. avatar


    March 5, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    You could set them in the rose of sharon design. Just look for “rose of sharon tutorial” on google until you find the tutorial. It will give them a well defined shape and design and can be used with any small shape gemstone.