Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Custom Ring Build

Bench Work in July Heat

My usual habit is to do household chores — shopping, gardening etc. — in the morning and get to the bench after lunch. I feel I am at my most creative in the afternoon. Vancouver's lovely summer weather has produced one notable downside; the shop tends to heat up and the temperature can hit 80°F  — and climbing —in the early afternoon. That's a bit toasty for firing up a torch!

Recently, someone asked me to create a garnet ring. I worked on the design at my desk over a couple of afternoons, got it approved, then headed to the bench in the morning hours for a few days to create the ring.

Building the Shank

I began by measuring a sterling strip for the ring shank (see last post), then rounded it up using a steel mandrel and a rawhide hammer.

It's an almost hypnotic chore as you tap on the ring for awhile, take it off the mandrel, turn it over, put it back on and tap some more (this flipping keeps the ring even as you work). You also keep an eye on the size markings on your mandrel to be sure you are not stretching it beyond the desired size. The final step, if you want a texture, it to take a jeweler's steel hammer to the shank. For this ring, I used my riveting hammer.  Lots of sanding, inside and out, follows to get it ready for the stone on its mount.

Creating the Bezel

With the shank complete, I started work on a bezel setting for the garnet. These stepped round pliers are a wonderful tool for shaping bezels. Pick a size slightly smaller than your stone and wrap fine silver bezel wire around to start the process.

The next step is to lay the cabochon on the bench and slip the round loop over it. Use a fine tip marker to mark the spot where the wire begins to overlap. Gently free the stone and use flush cutters to cut the wire. I use fine grit sandpaper to smooth and clean the ends, add flux and use a tiny piece of solder to close the bezel.

Adding a Custom Touch

The client liked the look of a scalloped bezel I had purchased and used on a ring in my etsy shop <> so I used a very small file to create the same pattern on this bezel. I also cut a silver square, matched to the width of the ring shank, to complete the garnet setting.

Assembled, Polished & Ready to Ship

As I write this, the ring should be showing up at the client's door. I sure hope she will be well pleased.