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Picture of How to Back Turquoise for Jewelry

Welcome to Turquoise Backing 101! :D

If you're a silversmith that wants to take more control of your art, this is a perfect tutorial if you work with turquoise or irregular objects that need flat bottoms. Perhaps you're a lapidary and need a proven method for backing, here it is! Or if you're a stone buyer and want to know the way these stones get backed, and why. :)

I actually mined all of these stones in the pictures. I also have my own turquoise claim in Nevada, and I post a lot of my stuff on instagram - @excavade_rocks . Just in case you wanted to see how this stuff forms in the earth <3 .

The reason to back turquoise is to help give it stability during jewelry making and jewelry wearing. If you were to wear a turquoise ring and accidentally knock your hand into a wall or something, the stone would be less likely to crack if your stone were backed. We do this with the use of an epoxy of some sort. JB Weld is an easily attainable go-to medium to use, and I've been using it for years. Plus, with this technique, you will get *just enough* backing to support the stone, without adding any unnecessary weight to the turquoise.

Another reason for backing is to level things out. If you have a unique piece that requires a flat bottom to set as a cabochon, you can also use JB Weld on that. Same if you wanted to keep the stone looking "raw" or the turquoise in nugget form, but require a flat bottom. :)

Note: the turquoise I am using in the photo is called Royston Ribbon Turquoise. Basically, the turquoise formed in cracks of stone when volcanic and tectonic activity occured. Those voids were perfect roads for the turquoise minerals to wash into, and eventually harden together to form the crystalline structure of turquoise. :) This type of stone/cut is basically a cross-section of that action. Solid colored turquoise is an example of cutting the opposite way, so you're seeing that line of blue across the whole top. And those "veins" of turquoise were thicker and bigger, which lend to those typical cuts. This stuff is like little lightning splotches that have visual appeal but don't have the mass required to be cut the opposite way.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need the following:

* Wax Paper and tape to flatten it out (dollar store)
* JB Weld (online or home depot)
* Stones/nuggets/cab slabs (buy from a trusted source!)
* Styrofoam Plate - preferred (dollar store. makes for good squishy scraping)
* Popsicle Stick (dollar store/amazon?)

Can you use JB Weld to glue a stone onto a wood shoji door frame for using as a door handle/pull? or to glue a cabinet pull handle to a cabinet door? what materials can you glue together with this stuff?
I like the way you explained everything. You have nice relaxed style, yet you are precise.
Stan1y4 months ago
I read somewhere that backing turquoise was originally a native American technique, I presume they didn't use epoxy, do you know if that is true and if so what the traditional resin would be.
kristylynn84 (author)  Stan1y4 months ago
native americans used sawdust in the settings to level out and cushion the stone to make it level. but the problem with sawdust is that it expands when it gets wet, and could crack the stone from underneath or pop it out all together. :) traditional backing was records! they would glue the stone to a record and cut it out, filing the record to the size of the stone. :)
jessyratfink4 months ago
So awesome to see you here! :D Also super jealous you mined these yourself! We just bought some land with mineral rights so I hope I find some goodies hahah
kristylynn84 (author)  jessyratfink4 months ago
omg that sounds SOOO fun lol!!! :D that means you can make whatever you want with it! even if it's a rock that isn't popular, you can make it your own and give it your own name :D i have some funky rocks on my claim that are interesting but they aren't something special, but i still cut it for jewelry :D
Cat00x4 months ago
If you don’t want the black edge around it, is it possible to cut it off?
kristylynn84 (author)  Cat00x4 months ago
you can cut it off with a sharp blade.. like 5-8 hours through, i think. depending on the firmness. :) you have to wait until it's slice-able , and before it gets too hard :D
These look great and it is super cool that you have a turquoise claim :)
kristylynn84 (author)  Penolopy Bulnick4 months ago
thank you!! :D <3 eeee :D