Project #3: A Bolo Tie

Bolo ties are all the rage these days, and you can make your own originals-a great advantage to buying an assembly line product. Cut your own gemstone cabochon or buy one at a rock and gem show. Choose a stone that you like and conceive a design to form around it.

fit bezel to chosen stone cut off excess bezel

Preparing and Designing the Cast

As in Project #2, prepare your jeweler's cast and form a smooth patty on the Garnet Soldering Block. While the patty dries to its evaporated state, form and cut a piece of bezel to fit around the stone. When the bezel is formed, tap it, prong side down, into the patty. It is important that the bezel retains the shape and size of the stone during casting. You may wish to solder the seam of the bezel together to make this easier. To ensure that the bezel fuses securely to the plate, carve a slight trench in the Jewelers Cast around the outside of the bezel's edge. This will allow the silver from the molten plate to grasp the bezel more securely. Create a design into the patty surrounding the imbedded bezel (See the instructions on casting and fusing with Jewelers Cast).

Imbed the bezel into the cast and create a design around it.

Fusing and Casting the Bolo Tie

With a piece of plate slightly larger than your design, fuse the pieces of metal in the design to the plate (see the instructions for fusing with Jewelers Cast).

Cast and fused piece, just out of the mold.

Forming and Soldering the Bolo Tie Loops

Cut a piece of 1" x 3/8" 24g silver plate. File all of the sharp edges until smooth and buff the whole piece when done. With the round nosed pliers, bend the ends of the plate around, formed as shown in figure below. Solder the finished bolo tie loops to the back of the plate (see the instructions for soldering). Make sure that the loops are centered and positioned slightly toward the top of the piece. Also, make sure they are going in the direction that you want the cord to go. Finish and polish the piece before you move onto setting the stone.

finish bolo loops and tips
set stone and finish piece

Setting the Stone

Cut a piece of thin leather to match the outline of the stone that you have decided to use. This leather piece will cushion the stone and push it against the bezel so that it will stay tightly in place. Fit the leather backing into the bezel and place the gemstone cabochon on top of it. Bend the bezel prongs over the stone using pliers or a burnishing awl. Try to get them as flush to the stone as possible. This will prevent them from catching on clothes and other things and breaking off. Finally, repolish the bezel around the stone.


Completely finish and clean the piece to your satisfaction. Then lace the leather bolo cord into the bolo tie loops on the back of the piece. Cut the ends of the cord at an angle so they will fit snugly into the bolo tips. Mix up a spot of epoxy on a disposable surface and cover the ends of the bolo cord with a generous amount. Put the ends into the bolo tips and bend the teeth of the tips down if needed. Let the epoxy set overnight for the strongest bond. Polish the tips if you wish. You now have a finished bolo tie that you made completely by hand. This was a tough project, even for us, so congratulations! Write us and tell us about your experience or any new ideas you may have come up with. J.B. is always glad to hear from his customers!

Each piece of jewelry, created with the Garnet Blocks and Jewelers Cast, is unique and appealing.
Express yourself with the jewelry that you create. Each piece is a treasure!

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