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
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