Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Making Tennis Bracelet Collets.

The name "tennis bracelet" came about after an incident at the 1987 U.S. Tennis Championships involving tennis champion Chris Evert. Chris was wearing an in-line diamond bracelet and while playing one of her matches, and the clasp broke. Her diamond bracelet slipped off her wrist. She requested that the match be suspended until she found her bracelet. Her request was granted, and because of this incident, the bracelet became known as a diamond tennis bracelet.

These pictures were taken on the fly, so they not too fancy.

I like these bracelets when they well made.

Most are not.

Especially in the Caribbean, where they are uses to move inferior Indian cut diamonds at rubbish prices.

Still, making them by hand is quite labor intensive.


Here are my original notes from about 1980.


This method is quite good, but needs careful flame control and quite a lot of practice.

I got an order to make some earrings using the same technique, collet wise.

Zim Workshop before and after1

I have been making stainless steel jigs to replace my jigs that got burnt in my workshop fire in Zimbabwe.

The carnage was caused by an oxygen bottle exploding.

And no, my parrot was not in the cage and nor did I cause the fire.

It’s not that I don’t want to buy machine made collets from the supply houses, but more the satisfaction of being able to make the equivalent  in the manner I wish.

I like making stuff like this.


It doesn’t look like it, but this is made out of  stainless steel. I turn this stuff out on my lathe and the I make grooves for the gold wire with barrel burrs.

I start with a 0.5mm and work my way up to the right size.

In this case, the wire I am using is 0.65mm.

The jump ring is positioned so a wire will be soldered on the joint, filling both.

The cover on the left slips over to hold the wire in place.


Then I stick the wires down and solder them to the jump ring.


This is the first solder session finished.

The brief for this collet was that the wire had to be place on the outside of the jump ring.

The jump ring can also be grooved so that the wire nestled halfway into it.


The second jump ring is always difficult to place if this type of collet is made free style.

But with a jig, it is easier to place it at the right distance from the first jump ring, and the distance has to be pretty accurate in each collet.


This is only one way of doing it.

There are many other ways, all as good or better.


Anyway, here are the rough just soldered collets just pulled out of the jig.



Then on the left, I solder a bar in the middle. And I bend some wire like the shape on the right of the picture.


The flux does made the collet look rough, but trust me is it actually smooth 18ct gold.

The bent wire is pushed from the bottom of the collet and through the holes.


The male and female collets……. ahem


About to consummate their marriage.


I just bent the wires up in preparation for soldering.

Here is one of the few time I use a lower grade solder other than hard.

The two wires are soldered in with medium solder.



Here are the collets soldered and ready for finishing off.


Here is my growing family of collet jigs.



This collet is for a 3mm stone.

I cut it apart to show what the naked collet looks like.

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