Monday, 27 August 2012

Design of the Week: Treasure Chest pendant

Sterling silver treasure chest pendant necklace

I'm rather proud of my efforts in this week's design - this tiny little treasure chest pendant made from silver. It's only a dinky 15mm across!

Inspiration for the design

I've always been fascinated by jewellery which opens up or has the potential to keep something secret hidden within it - lockets, poison rings, perfume bottle necklaces - all these things have held my interest for a number of years.

About two years ago, I remember searching all over Etsy for a sterling silver treasure chest locket, because it just seemed like a really sweet idea. I didn't find many, and actually never bought one in the end, but I remembered this idea recently.

I've been toying with the idea of trying to make a hinge: a more slightly advanced technique which looked doable to me. I've also not really had a go at making a box yet by scoring and folding metal, so thought this chest might be a good design to try out both techniques. Perhaps a little ambitious, but I try not to do things by halves.

I didn't meticulously design all the details beforehand - it was a little made-up-as-I-went-along in this case. If I made it again in the future I would probably try and do a few scale drawings first... but I think it turned out ok in the end!

Sterling silver treasure chest pendant necklace
The little clasp on the front keeps the lid shut and conceals all the treasures
Silver treasure chest pendant necklace with golden coin
Full of gold treasure!

Making the design

The whole pendant was constructed from 0.5mm sterling silver sheet, 0.4mm sheet in 2mm strips, 1.2mm sterling silver tube, 0.6mm and 0.8 silver wire.

More on how I made this design & image after the jump >>>

I started off making the box - measured and cut a rectangle from silver sheet, scored and folded the sides around. Unfortunately I didn't do the folding too well and ended up with a slightly irregular box shape (but it's not too noticeable in the final pendant). I soldered the join and soldered to a base, to make the bottom half box.

Next I made the lid by marking out two semi-circles and a rectangle (using pi multiplied by radius to find the length). After shaping and soldering, I had both my box and lid complete. This is when I decided to add some details to the design - using 2mm wide bezel strip to make the brace detail on the front and top of the chest.

The trickiest part was adding the 3-knuckle hinge made from tube. I was following the instructions given in Elizabeth Bone's book, however that showed two flat pieces of metal being joined. Given the rather bulkier and more awkward shape of the chest, it was harder getting all the pieces to line up properly. I had a slight accident with the solder running a little bit too far, which I fixed with some correctional sawing, but I'd advise using rouge paste (or anti-flux) as the books suggest!

Before riveting the hinge, I added a bail and the clasp. I was a bit stumped on how to make a clasp for this and in the end, I completely made up the solution, but it seems to work. I soldered a silver ball onto the front of the bottom half to make the catch. On the top half, I drilled a small hole, melted the end of a piece of 0.8mm wire, threaded through and made a loop which I soldered shut and filed.

The final touches were to clean up and polish, then rivet the hinge (using 0.6mm wire) and oxidise. Quite a project - this took me a fair few hours to complete, but I'm happy with the cuteness of the final pendant, even though it isn't perfect.

Sterling silver treasure chest pendant necklace containing treasure
Couldn't resist filling the chest full of treasure: precious gems, pearls, opals!


  1. Only just stumbled on your blog and I'm totally amazed at how you made this. How did you know the clasp would shut? Or how it would hang when finished?

    Btw I've read all your posts now and I love them. Thanks

  2. Hi there - thank you so much for your kind comment. Really nice to hear you've enjoyed my posts :)

    I have to admit, this was probably the most complex piece I’ve attempted to date, and some of it was a bit of guesswork. Making it hang right was quite easy – just a simple bail positioned right in the middle of the lid, letting gravity do the rest.

    The clasp was the trickiest bit as I couldn’t find much in books/online to help me, so this is where I pretty much guessed! I bent the wire around the ball until it made the ‘click’ noise I was looking for when pushed over the ball – then I cut off the excess wire and soldered. Luckily it worked!

  3. wow, what a wonderful piece, great work.


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