German glass artisan Martin Holmann heats and presses glass rods to produce EHA SELECT Hand-crafted Glass Cabochons. photo credit The Photography of Glenn Perry

Hand-crafted with Fire & Glass - The art of making the EHA SELECT Glass Collection

What makes EHA SELECT Hand-crafted Glass Stones, Beads and Pendants an extraordinary choice for jewelry design?

Crafting jewelry stones, beads and pendants from glass requires expert knowledge and practiced skill. EHA SELECT Hand-crafted Glass Jewelry Components are hand-made by master artisans whose families have been producing glass jewelry stones for generations. A vast collection of vintage tools allows these families to recreate beautiful designs either in their original form or re-styled with modified backs or modern colors to meet the current needs of fashion and jewelry design. EHA SELECT Glass Flat Back stones are a perfect example of a classic design modernized for a new market. Originally a vintage glass button, the tool was modified to create one of our best-selling collections, engraved flat-backs with exquisite engravings on the front. Innovation is an important and celebrated aspect of this craft. For designers searching for custom pieces, new tools can be made to create exclusive designs and exceptional product using time-honored techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Hand-crafted Glass Cabochons are ready for
trimming, grinding and polishing.
Hand-crafted Glass Beads are formed on thin
metal rods.
A Rauten Cut Glass Doublet is ready for ready for
trimming, grinding and polishing.

How are EHA SELECT Hand-crafted Glass products made?

Handcrafting glass for jewelry components is an art more than a science. The enchantment of glass molding begins with raw materials. Silica sand and various elements, such as sodium carbonate and limestone, are melted in a high-temperature furnace to produce molten glass. Colors are achieved by adding different elements to the sand. This part of the process can yield intriguing and truly beautiful effects. Results can vary even when combining the same elements in the same way, producing variations from batch to batch. Finally, the glass is formed into long rods of opaque, opal, multi-colored or transparent glass, both large and small, for use in crafting fancy stones, engraved flat back stones, cabochons, beads, and pendants.

Glass rods in various colors and transparencies.
Martin brings glass rods up to temperature at his oil fire kiln.
Tools (kaapls) are used to craft stones from the heated glass.

Small rods are used by themselves or combined together to make multi-colored stones. Sometimes gold or silver leaf is also added to give greater depth and dimension. While these stones are often several dollars apiece, this type of production offers customers the flexibility of choosing custom shapes and sizes in smaller, boutique size batches. Due to their artisanal method of production, each piece is unique with slight variations.
Explore E.H. Ashley’s Art-glass Collection to see some of the potential color possibilities.

Large transparent glass rods heating in an oil fire kiln.
Large glass rods come in single and multi-color.
Proper temperatures are key to crafting glass or
sticking can occur.
Larger rods can be used to make larger stones. Rods come either in a single color that can be used alone or in multiple colors that have been combined within a rod. When multi-color rods are used, each stone will also exhibit slight variations in pattern. Multi-color rods are less expensive than single-color rods when crafting a multi-colored stones. Minimums for stones with larger rods are higher but are less expensive for every stone.

A collection of kappls or press molds
Tools can have interchangeable or fixed molds.
A pressing tool or kappl being used to
make jewelry components

Once the rods have been made they can be stored for decades. When the glass rods are ready to use, they are heated to the appropriate temperature. If the temperature is not accurate, the stones will either stick to the tool or not form correctly. Glass jewelry components are fashioned using a mold held closed by large pliers (kappl) and then cooled carefully to prevent cracking. After cooling, they are polished using various methods based on the intended results. Stones can be further embellished by matting or with the application of paint or custom coatings to create various effects. Foil can also be put on stones to give them increased luminosity and visual dimension.

The process of crafting glass jewelry components by hand has many stages and small variations and imperfections can be expected. It usually takes about 6 weeks to go through all of the stages of production. We continually stock our most sought after EHA SELECT Hand-crafted Glass Jewelry Components. Our knowledgeable sales team will assist with inquiries regarding other design possibilities and made-to-order product. Minimums for the E.H. Ashley’s Art-glass Collection tend to be 50-100 pieces made-to-order. For other types of glass the minimums tend to be 250-1200 pieces depending on the size of the stone and how expensive it is. Minimums for in-stock items at E.H. Ashley are smaller.


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Historic RI Jewelry Industry

The E.H. Ashley & Company Showroom houses over 100 years of jewelry components, vintage to contemporary, including Swarovski crystal, Preciosa crystal,
EHA SELECT Hand-crafted Glass Jewelry Components, Lucite, and Metal Jewelry Components.