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Beyond Basic Lapidary: Designing with Stone

Lapidary is more than just cutting and polishing gems. Learn how to integrate stone and metal as a whole, rather than as separate objects. Michael will demonstrate how to shape rough stones, drill through them, make perfect bezels for unique shapes, set stones on top of stones, add decorative rivets, and much more. 

During this intensive four-day workshop, students can choose to cut numerous stones, apply unique setting methods to finished stones, and/or focus on completing pieces as time allows.

Michael is an internationally recognized lapidary artist and master of bezel setting who has worked in the field full time since 1990. "The stone is as important as the metal. I am looking for an integration of the media, a manipulation and blending of the two: Using stone as a medium, not as an accessory." - Michael Boyd. If you'd like to see more of Michael's work, visit his website www.michaelboyd.com

NOTE: This class is for students with metalsmithing skills and previous lapidary experience, who wish to further explore incorporating unique stones into finished work.

Meet the instructor

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Michael Boyd is a nationally renowned jewelry designer, metalsmith, and lapidary artist based in Pueblo, Colorado.  Below is a blog article written by Yleana Martinez, that Metalwerx published in 2013.



Michael Boyd made his first piece of jewelry at age twelve. Classes in lapidary at a recreation center in his hometown west of Denver, Colorado, reinforced his love of color and design, but, in college, painting and ceramics became his primary focus. He continued making jewelry, and then, he says, “Metalsmithing just sort of took over.”





More than two decades later, Michael is internationally recognized for his stunning, elaborate jewelry and objects that combine hand-cut stones with a mix of metals. Each piece is a distinctive work of art. Stones the general public wouldn’t easily recognize are often the focus of Michael’s jewelry. Smaller precious gems take a back seat and highlight the surprising beauty of agates, jaspers, and rarer rocks such as mookaite and petrified woods.





Michael recently placed second in two categories of the prestigious 2013 Saul Bell Awards, a necklace in the gold/platinum category and a letter knife in hollowware/art objects. It was his first attempt to apply to a competition—not bad results for a first timer. “It just sounded like fun and I had a few pieces around,” he said





Lapidary became an important aspect of his jewelry when he realized he wanted to make pieces that did not include traditionally-cut stones. “I wanted shapes and forms that fit the metalsmithing I was doing,” he said. Part of the fun of doing lapidary is that he goes prospecting, sometimes taking along pack goats to carry back his stash. He has traveled throughout the country in search of rough: Montana for sapphires, Wyoming for jade, and all over the west for agate and jasper. Early next year he is joining a group of gemologists in Tanzania to mine sapphires and search for other rough gem material.





Michael is always part of Metalwerx’ Summer with the Masters series. There is typically a flurry of anticipation at the studio as volunteers prepare the studio for his return. Scaffolding is erected for the lapidary work stations, plastic sheeting is tacked to walls to protect tools and the big-screen TV, and steps are taken to ensure there is a fresh and plentiful supply of towels for cleanup.





The biggest excitement happens when Michael empties his suitcases of rough. There can be as many as 60 paper plates filled with a rainbow of rough gems for students to work with, including topaz, aquamarine, jade, rubies, tourmaline, crystal, quartz, and more. One can only drool at the selection and dream of the transformation from rough to sparkling beauty.





Students will benefit from learning how to use stone as a means of enhancing jewelry design. Michael has many tips and tricks to share about how to make perfect bezels, to set stones on top of stones, and to add embellishments. “You can buy manufactured findings—and stones– and stick them on your piece of jewelry,” he said. “I’d rather make my own findings and cut my own stones. These [skills] will make your jewelry entirely your own.”





Over the years Michael has taught hundreds of students the joys of cutting, shaping, and polishing stone. He looks forward to each workshop because inevitably, someone will ask a question that he’s never before had to answer, or he’ll discover some new and better way to present information. “It’s a constant learning process for me,” he said. “It makes you think.” But the best part of hauling equipment and pounds of rocks to set up shop for a week? “It’s fun.”



Materials & Tools

Lapidary supplies (diamond bits, high grade epoxy, etc.) will be available for students to purchase as needed for individual work. If students wish to get a kit, it is estimated at $85. Rough stones will be available for sale as well, and are priced per gram or carat.

Students should bring
  • their own bezel wire in the metal they want to use (fine silver, sterling silver, and gold are recomended) 

Don't hesitate to call us if you have questions (781-891-3854).


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