Very intricate sawing for jewellery

... That's what I've been doing an awful lot of in the last few days. And here is the outcome of some of that work - an arabesque pendant in sterling silver with glass beads.

Intricate saw piercing in our sterling silver arabesque necklace with red beads.

About saw piercing

If you've ever tried sawing (or saw piercing) detailed designs to create sterling silver jewellery (or other precious metals), you'll know that it's a skill which takes many hours of practice and a lot of patience to perfect.

Jewellers use incredibly fine saw blades which break very easily. Every novice jeweller will break hundreds if not thousands of them, generally without getting much good work finished. It can be a very frustrating experience when you start out as a jewellery maker - and even when you're just having a not great day at the jeweller's bench.

I've long suspected that jewellery teachers start newbie jewellers off with sawing to weed out those who simply don't have the patience required for this sort of work.

As for me, I got better at it over time - as everybody does with practice - but it wasn't exactly a task I relished to start with.

A change in perspective

Several years ago I unexpectedly developed a great love for doing very intricate saw piercing work when making jewellery designs. This was the result of a change in thinking about sawing: I realised it has a lot in common with sculptural carving, which is a process I enjoy a lot.

Rather than anxiously sawing along detailed lines I found my work flowed a lot more easily with a simple change of perspective. These days I feel like I get in the zone with sawing and can saw away quite happily, even with very complex jewellery designs.

Since then have spent thousands of hours sawing out such designs and constantly improving my skills while doing so. I now feel I'm pretty handy with my saw frame and enjoy taking on much more challenging designs.

Of  course I still break a fair share of jewellery saw blades - such is the life of a jeweller (along with scrabbling around on the floor hunting down tiny components or gemstones, of course!).

Fretwork sawn into sterling silver sheet with a fine jeweller's saw before the outlines are cut out.Jewellery components sawn out of sterling silver sheet by hand using a very fine jeweller's saw blade. These pieces are yet to be filed and sanded.

Above to the left is a sheet of sterling silver with the fretwork for some designs sawn out. To the right are the designs fully cut from the sheet, before any filing, sanding or other cleaning up work was done.

If you like this sort of intricate and unique jewellery, you should check out our online jewellery store.

Interested in chain making?

If you're interested in the techniques of silver jewellery making, check out a time lapse video we made of a handmade silver chain being made from scratch.

Read other top jewellery making articles:

More information:

Simone Walsh is an Australian jewellery designer and maker who has been creating handmade jewellery in sterling silver, gold and gemstones for over 25 years. She lives and works on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula outside Adelaide in South Australia, where she's lucky enough to walk on the beach and visit vineyards in her free time. Simone is the Founder & Creative Director of Simone Walsh Jewellery.


  • HI, loved this. Had a question. For Fretwork earrings, what gauge sheet would you use? I am talking about mid to big size earrings

    Diya Sen
  • Your sawing is great!
    I absolutely love sawing. I remember the first time I picked up a saw and tried just to cut a straight line! My husband watched my frustration and laughed at me saying you know you could always use metal sheers for that and it’s a LOT easier. I explained I dint like the curled edges from sheers and I “wanted to learn intricate sawing skills”! Looking back now , it was just a matter of letting off on the death grip I had on my handle! . Other than that, my piercing has improved a LOT. I met Thomas Mann at a show an he gave me a 2 min lesson which was a game changer for me. (Forever grateful )
    I am always looking for more intricate patterns to saw that have inside the image details . Do you have any favorite websites or books you can recommend? I google silhouette images but I’d like more intricate inside the image details to cut out.


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