"2015 is the third year our Christmas Tree Pins have been featured in the Art Institute of Chicago Museum Holiday Gift Catalog and Gift Shop. Each year there are variations due to the availability of gemstones.
The first step is to create a simple tree form using pliers. We have been using 18 gauge sterling silver wire to make these pins. Once the zigzag tree shape is finished, the wire is hammered so it has two flat sides, giving it a nice texture while hardening it a bit. The tree flexes a lot at this stage, but soldering the bezels between the "branches" connects them, making it a lot more solid. There are eleven round bezels for this year's tree, with a star at the top. I solder these all on in one step, placing each component where it belongs then heating the whole tree with a wide mouth torch tip, moving the flame to heat the entire tree while making sure each component solders properly. This takes a lot of practice and I have the melted trees to prove it ...!
After pickling and tumbling, the pin parts have to be soldered onto the back. This can be tricky because of the previous solders - the pin parts have to be soldered on without melting the solder that is holding the bezels and the star. Care has to be taken with the pin catch - the rotor that closes the brooch and holds the actual pin is easy to fuse in the closed position. Once done, the pins have to be pickled and tumbled again.
Next they need to be set. This is a fairly straightforward process. This year, the trees feature moonstone, tigers eye, garnet, iolite, citrine, amethyst, star diopside, green agate, goldstone, carnelian and blue agate."
Here's a link to the product page on the Art Institute of Chicago Gift Shop site ...