One of my weaknesses is huge, chunky stone rings. I haven’t learned how to set stones yet, though, so I wasn’t sure how I could make my own.
Then I remembered this amazing marbled polymer clay tutorial by Laura at A Beautiful Mess, and I wondered—could I make polymer clay faux-gemstones and bake them right into some of our Nunn ring bezels? Spoiler alert: yes!
They’re not the real deal, but there’s something I love about making a faux-version of something else. It’s a form of craftsmanship with a long history, from faux painting to wood graining. Plus it is so, so, so simple. You can even make pendants or earrings using the same technique.
This would be a great project to do with a group of friends or while marathoning your favorite show on a rainy day. A few multi-packs of clay will make plenty of jewelry (I made over a dozen pieces and barely dented most of my colors), so you can make a bunch of presents quickly and easily.
The most important thing about this project is to remember that you can’t totally control the final product—you have to just trust your gut and see what happens. The surprises are the best part!
Which piece is your favorite? What colors would you use for this project? Let us know in the comments!
Materials and Supplies
- The Nunn bezels of your choice. The bezels I used were:
- Kato Polyclay. I used one of each of the following, and had plenty left over:
- A smooth surface for rolling clay (I used a cutting board)
- A rolling pin or drinking glass
- An X-Acto knife
- A metal dapping block or spoon
(Adapted from A Beautiful Mess’s tutorial)
2. Twist your colors around each other like a candy cane, then roll together until they form one solid snake.
3. Fold your snake back over on itself, twist like a candy cane again, and roll until solid. At this point, you can keep folding in half, twisting and rolling 2 or 3 more times, if you’d like—the more you fold it back over on itself the more blended the colors of your final ring will be. For this first ring, I chose to only fold and roll it once, which is why the colors are so distinct compared to the other rings, which I re-folded two or three times each.
4. Roll your clay into a ball. Make sure it is solid and there are no cracks.
5. Roll the ball out flat with the rolling pin or drinking glass. Don’t roll it too thin! If you want your “stone” to be flat and even with the top of your bezel (like the earrings and pendant), roll it out 1-2 mm thicker than the depth of your bezel. If you want your “stone” to have a rounded, raised surface like the rings, roll your clay 3-5mm thicker than your bezel’s depth.
6. Carefully peel up your rolled clay and place it in your dapping block or spoon (if you want a rounded top) or on a clean flat surface (if you want a flat top) so that the “right side” is face down . In these pictures I’m using a spoon—if you do too, try to place your clay in the roundest, deepest, most even part of the spoon for best results.
7. Place your ring upside down on top of your clay, then push it down through the clay like a cookie cutter. You want your bezel to go all the way through the clay.
8. Slide your ring off the spoon or dapping block and peel away any excess clay. Your “stone” should be perfectly squished into your bezel now. Depending on the type of bezel you’re using, you may have to carefully trim the edges of the clay with an X-Acto knife in order to expose the details of the bezel properly.
9. Smooth the edges and any last imperfections with a wet finger. But remember that even natural stones have flaws, so don’t get too hung up on perfection.
10. When you’ve made as many pieces as you’d like, bake them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes. I used the Blue Bottle Tree‘s two-pie-pan method as illustrated here (that website is a wealth of polymer clay information, by the way). The bezels will be extremely hot when they come out of the oven, so be careful!
A couple more tips:
- If you’re having trouble with your clay sticking to your spoon or dapping block, add a couple drops of water to make the surface slightly wet before you add the clay.
- The “stone” should hold itself in place within the ring after baking. I had one of mine loosen during baking, but just glued it back in the bezel with a couple drops of epoxy. The rest were in there very firmly, even when I tried to pry them out to test.
- You can make your own color blends before rolling out your snakes. For the large green ring, I used two strands of green, one that I had darkened with copper and black and one that I had lightened with gold. Also, remember your color wheel: even if you don’t pre-mix them, the colors you choose will smoosh together to make new colors where they meet as you roll them out.
- Before rolling them into snakes, I mixed my colored clays with a hint of metallic clay so that they would sparkle as well.
- If you want, you could try to replicate the look of real semi-precious stones. Malachite and opal would look amazing, huh?
Thanks so much for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.