Daily Wire Tip Oct. 18: Wire Wrapping a Marble

By on October 17, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 18, 2010


How do you make a simple compression setting for a sphere? I would like to make a pendant using an antique marble. I don’t want to cage the marble, because that will hide the beautiful glass swirls inside.

-Angela in Dunwoody, Georgia


Angela, your antique marble sounds like a lovely treasure. From what you describe, I believe a compression setting is commonly termed a "tension" setting.

The method of tension setting evolved in the 1960s and is basically used to make gemstone rings, and only with certain gemstones. The stone needs to be hard enough to take the pressure of the metal that is on each side of the stone (from 65 to 95 pounds of pressure per square inch), which means a stone with a Mohs hardness of 9-10, specifically corundum (ruby and sapphire) and diamond. With all due respect to the design methods, I do not think that this can be done with wire wrapping.

I do have a suggestion that I feel would be more safe for your antique, and less expensive. Why not try a simple cage, such as the one I teach in the new online class "Lock That Rock!" Looking at the photo, you can see that by following the class directions, but reducing the number of wires used to two for the base, you will end up with a nice four-wire cage. When it has been completed, you can then use round nose pliers to swirl the cage wires, matching or complementing the swirls in the marble. And you will have made an heirloom of your lovely marble, without damaging it.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Mary Phillips

    October 18, 2010 at 6:41 am

    That sound like a wonderful way to wear a treasure.

  2. avatar


    October 18, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I had the same problem several months ago, and attended Dale’s workshop when it was held in Dallas. Dale taught me techniques of wire wrapping, and I was then able to come up with my own designs for wire wrapping spheres! Yay, Dale!!

    I could bead-weave the living daylights out of a sphere (the result of a customer challenge many years ago, where she wanted a tiger eye sphere made into a necklace; big problem: no hole! LOL). But I never could figure out how to wire wrap one til I attended Dale’s classes.

    Angela (and anyone else), if you pattern your sphere wrap from one of mine and put it up for sale, please give me credit for the original design, okay?

    Here’s my etsy link to a sphere… (and, yes, I have done one old glass marble that was in my mother’s fishbowl when she was a child, for a personal piece…)


    If you decide on the prongs, make sure they are gently holding the sphere.
    Nina C. Dillmann, Art Masquerading As Jewelry

    • avatar


      October 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

      Nina – thanks so much for sharing both your class experience and your design! (Love it!)
      Folks before you begin asking how to make this design, I need to tell you that in the upcoming Advanced DVD series, DVD #1 has a similar design using a faceted stone. Yes, as I write these new DVDs are in the process of being packaged, so it won’t be too much longer : )

  3. avatar


    October 19, 2010 at 12:20 am

    I had a beautiful, round, rutilated quartz piece that looked like a marble. I made a loop on the end to hang it from, then I started coiling the rest of the wire until it was about 1/8 to 1/4 down the top of the marble. While I did this I kept checking the fit of the “cap” that I was making. When I thought it went down far enough without covering up the beauty of the stone, I made a little swirl at the end of the tail, and let that drag down on the back (after pressing it to be flush with the stone) for a little added security. I glued the marble into the cap with hypo cement. It was absolutely stunning.

  4. avatar

    Robin Lutsky

    October 19, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I am a jewelry designer and I have used this cage technique with marbles and crystals with great success.

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