Ellis Cameron: Stone setting

Ellis GSA 1

The past week or two, I’ve been working on my new Glasgow School of Art (GSA)  project – Stone Setting.

It’s been a great project so far, as we’ve all learnt the new technical skill of setting a stone, as well as designing and developing our own ideas and narrative.

Tie Pin

First we were taught how to make a tie pin. This is a good way to teach you how to set a stone, as a tie pin is basically setting a stone, plus soldering a pin onto the back of the setting, and voila! You have created a tie pin!

It’s great to learn a specific technical skill, as normally we are just taught different skills when they relate to our specific developments in each project.

For instance, I’ve been taught how to enamel, as it was relevant to my Chain Reaction project; and latterly my Exhibition project but other people haven’t been taught it yet, as they haven’t needed to use it in their own designs.

It was pretty difficult to begin with; I’m not the fastest of learners and sometimes need things shown to me a few times before I fully grasp what I’m supposed to be doing. But once I got my head around it I found stone setting to be a really great thing to do, and enjoyed the accomplished feeling of making something simply for the sake of learning the skill.


The next part of the project was to give yourself a narrative to work from, then design and make a ring which you would set a stone of your choice in.

I chose a moonstone, as I love the way in which light and dark alter the tone of the stone. It can look very cheap and plastic from one angle, but incredibly aesthetic and interesting from another.

I developed my ideas from the moonstone itself, looking at how light and dark interact and affect the stone.

Ellis GSA 2 Ellis GSA 3

I began looking at the unpredictability of light. From this, drew half of the stone as I saw it, then pressed the page into the opposing page, in order to create fluid marks. From these marks and prints I focused on 9 of the prints and created 9 sample rings in silver plated copper, to see how they worked with the stone I had chosen.

I then chose three of these rings to develop in silver, with the middle ring being the one in which I would set the stone.

Ellis GSA 5

Jonathon (my lecturer) helped me laser weld the stone setting I had made to the wire ring structure; and I then oxidised (turned black) the inside of the setting, so that it would bring out the darkest darks in the stone, and similarly contrast with the lightest lights of the stone.

The stone will then be set in the piece and the rings will be worn as a series on one hand. The ring with the stone will be between the two other rings, so that the wire can intersperse and interact with the stone, bouncing the light off the wires to manipulate the stone. The stone will also be on the bottom of the ring, worn on the palm of the hand, so that it is only visible when the palm is open.

Ellis GSA 4

The amount the palm is open will also affect the reflections on the stone itself.

The form of this ring is clumped at the base where the stone will be set and then it slowly spreads out linearly. This is my comment on the ideas of light leading into dark and vice versa; that the two are continuous and on-going; one always leads into the other. Is the ring leading from light into dark or dark into light, or perhaps both?

The project is nearing its end and I’m looking forward to seeing my finished pieces. I’ll make sure to share them here when they are done.

Ellis Cameron, Young in Argyll correspondent

Photographs accompanying this article are by Ellis Cameron

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