I was recently commissioned by a customer who had seen my work at the Peacock Arts Trail to make a bespoke engagement ring. After a relatively short email chat exploring a few different options he decided on a 2mm square band in 18ct white gold with a 3mm princess cut G/Si diamond. I was asked if I could keep him up-to-date on progress as I was making the ring & so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a little ‘behind the scenes’ on how an engagement ring is made… So to start with, the raw materials…
The raw materials include a strip of 2mm square wire (calculated to be the correct length for the ring size) a square of white gold sheet (which I will cut the stone setting out of) & the diamond. Doesn’t look like much does it? But it’s all worth rather a lot of money so I have to be careful! The next steps are to bend the wire into a circle to form the ring shank & pierce out & shape the stones setting. I confess at this point I got a bit carried away & zoomed ahead without taking photos. However, in a Blue Peter style, here’s one I made earlier…
I solder the ring as I would when making a plain band ring & then shape it on my mandrel to be perfectly round. But as this ring involves a stone that will be set into the band, I then cut the ring open along the existing solder join & gently stretch out the gap until it’s big enough to fit the stone setting.
The setting itself is made by piercing out a shape that looks like the shaded area in this diagram ~
Looks complicated? That’s because it is! The first few times I did this it seriously made my head hurt but it gets easier with a bit of practice. Btw, this is only necessary for tapered setting, i.e. where the bottom of the stone setting is narrower. Once pierced out, I then carefully shape the metal to create a rough square before soldering & tidying up the shape in a collet forming block (a big hunk of steel with tapered squares/circles/other shapes cut out of it!)
Back to our white gold diamond ring…here it is just before I solder the stone setting in place ~
I’ve cut open the ring shank & then carefully filed the edges to match the slope of the stone setting so that I get a nice clean solder join. I’ve also filed the top of the stone setting flat so that it sits straight upside down on my soldering block. The ring is held up using reverse action tweezers. Solder is added to either side of the stone setting & the ring is heated evenly until the solder flows. Once soldered, it looks like this ~
Now for some elbow grease! As you can see the solder join needs some cleaning up & the ring itself still has sharp square edges. There’s no escaping the fact that silversmithing involves lots & lots of filing! I do now have a swanky pendant drill that takes a bit of the manual labour out of cleaning up a piece of jewellery, but ultimately hand files & sandpaper is what’s required here to soften edges, remove any excess solder & smooth out the solder joins until they’re invisible.
Here is the ring all cleaned up & ready to be hallmarked. I don’t set the stone or apply the final polish until the ring is back from hallmarking as it may get scuffed during the hallmarking process. You’ll notice as well that I’ve filed the stone setting right down as it was very tall before – far to high to set – & the customer wanted a low profile setting. I won’t go into stone setting here…that’s another post all by itself…so here is the finished piece!
Hope you found this interesting! xvjx