Gregory Hiller Semi-precious stones set in sterling silver
Biochemical engineer by day, crimefighting stone-cutting silversmith by night (and weekends!). I learned to cut stones (cabochons) back in the geology club in jr. high school. At one point won the junior lapidary national award (back in late 70's I think). Started cutting stones again a few years back after learning the art of silversmithing. I carefully choose from the rough material and cut and polish the stone to bring out the natural beauty of the material. I then design a setting to fit the unique nature of the stone. Sometimes my highly artistic daughter or esthetically astute wife provide additional design ideas. All settings are cut from silver sheet, bezel wire, custom shaped filigree wire, and hand alloyed reticulated silver, then soldered together (acetylene torches are fun!) for a strong and sturdy setting that will last a lifetime. Most settings are hand polished to a perfect mirror finish both front and back. I use Argentium sterling silver for the majority of my work. This form of sterling silver is 93.5% pure silver (all reclaimed/recycled silver), but has a trace of the element germanium in it to provide for extreme resistance to tarnish. Pieces I've made with Argentium more than a year ago show no tarnish whatsoever, even when worn daily.