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Workshop – Remodeling The Wiggly Ring

Behind the scenes with Christina, one of Filigree’s Senior Jewellers.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a jeweller is when I have the opportunity to remodel a precious  item of jewellery, whether it’s a family heirloom or  when it’s an item that’s close to the client’s heart.  Most recently I was given some rings to remodel into  three ‘wiggly’ bands that were then soldered together. 

This is how I accomplished that:   
First of all it was necessary to remove all of the stones  and check what carat gold the various rings were as it is  not recommended to mix carats, this makes it difficult if not impossible to stamp a carat value onto a  finished article.  I was asked to make a ring consisting of three wiggly bands which were connected at one side and splayed  out on the opposite side like a fan.  The amount of metal I had to use was key so I calculated how much I would need, fortunately there was just  the right amount. 

The first challenge was the method of construction and there were two options. I rejected the idea of simply  bending the metal wire to shape because that would have been too  difficult. No matter how much the metal is annealed, 9 carat yellow gold  is tough to manipulate. So making each band quite wide and filing in the  wiggle felt like the best way to go.

Using the rolling mill is always fun so with the square profile rollers I  rolled the gold ingot of the customers metal to a long wire shape and  annealed it. Annealing is when you heat the metal to a specific  temperature then quench to relax the molecules. I could then put the wire  through the flat rollers to create a rectangular profile without the risk of  the metal cracking.  Next I cut the strip of metal to three equal lengths and bent each one into  a circle to make the three bands.

I rounded them up by sliding each one onto a circular steel mandrel and  tapping them with a hammer.  They were now nice and round and ready to be filed into the wiggly  shape.  The thing about filing is that the friction created makes the ring hot to  hold plus the subsequent sharp edges one attempts to avoid. ‘PPE’ in the  form of sticking plasters around the fingers is recommended.    After successfully filing in the wiggles which needed to look random but  alluring I sanded the file marks out of the gold and completed the first  polish. 
One of the last things to do was to solder the rings together at the side,stamp the correct carat inside the  bands and give the final polish to a rouge grade (the finest one).  
The ring was now lovely and shiny and ready for the customer!

By Christina Dower