Daily Wire Tip: Wire Wrapping 1-Carat Gemstones

By on May 22, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip


I recently purchased a parcel of faceted gemstones hoping they would be large enough to wire wrap. Unfortunately, they are all about 1 carat and below in size. What jewelry making method could I use to incorporate these gemstones that doesn’t involve soldering?

-Betty in Cocoa, Florida


Hi Betty, I had to grin when I read your question because you say that the stones are 1 carat or smaller, which really doesn’t tell me what size they are, just how heavy they are. Carat weight varies greatly depending on the gem material. For example, corundum (sapphire & ruby) is a very heavy/dense material (density approx. 4 gm/c³), so a one carat sapphire would be a lot smaller than say a 1 carat citrine (density approx. 2.65 gm/c³) or any other quartz such as rose, lemon, smoky, amethyst, etc. The carat is a unit of weight, not size: a carat is defined as 0.2 of a gram, so there are 5 carats to a gram.

I am not going to scold you for purchasing what seemed to be a wonderful deal, however when buying stones for wire jewelry designs, it is best not to purchase “parcels.” We had a nice discussion on this subject a while ago, that I invite you to read: Buying by Carat Weight.

Now, that being said, let me tell you how you might be able to incorporate some of these tiny treasures into your wire jewelry designs. The best way would be to set each stone into a snapset and then use the set stone in your design. To make sure you order the correct size snapset for each stone, it would be best to use a caliper. We talked about this here: How to Measure Gemstones for Settings.

Setting a stone into a snapset is kind of fun, as shown in the short video tip below. Personally, I love using tiny snapset gemstones to accent a cabochon pendant. Now, go have some fun with your little sparklies!


How to Use Snapsets 



Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    May 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Well I have to admit Dale, I did it too! In the beginning I think it’s very easy to do and I was not yet thinking in mm, so I got way too small stones. I just took a gemology class for non-gemologists and my teacher had a great suggestion for what to do with all those little, one of a kind, stones. She had me place them in gem jars with the size next to them so I could use them as visual examples of different sizes, cuts, and carats of stones when ordering online. I can also use them for identification of different gems (as these have been for sure identified as well). It’s worked great! And helped get my mind into mm mindset.

    • avatar


      May 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Cheryl, what a great suggestion from your gemology instructor! Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us :)

  2. avatar


    May 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I enjoyed your recent video answer to setting smaller stones and you mentioned snap setting them first and then incorporating the snap set stones in your pieces. My question is would you glue the now snap set stones onto bails or thread wire through the bases of the snap sets. I am not sure how they get incorporated into a wire wrapped or other type piece.

    • avatar


      May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Hi Doris, No glue is ever used! Yes wire is inserted between the stone and the setting, allowing the snapset stone to be used wherever you wish in a wire jewelry design. Here is the link to a short tip with more info: How to Use a Snapset. For a great design that can help you understand and practice adding snapset stones to your wire jewelry pieces, please see my Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow pendant class.

  3. avatar


    May 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    You might want to try setting the stones into a bezel with “Apoxie Sculpt” or a like product. You can do some fun designs with stones into the “clay” which then cures and keeps everything in – like an epoxy glue.