Back in the early spring of 2020, the world felt like a very different place!
I was contacted by a customer looking for a very special wedding ring. She had two diamond set rings that had been passed down through the family, not her style but she wanted to incorporate them into her wedding ring. I am never quite sure what to call these inherited diamonds? heritage, hand me down..... I have settled for Heirloom (for the moment )
I met with the customer and we agreed on a design. A 9ct White gold band with a flat profile that will be set with 7 of her family diamonds.
The first job was to clean the rings and to work out which diamonds were to be removed and how. I always feel a bit sad about taking apart rings that are otherwise in good condition and serviceable but these diamonds need to be worn and loved. By resetting them into a new ring they will be given a new lease of life and the wearer will have a connection with family and the past. The stones themselves were all unique, one of the rings was older and the diamonds have more of a yellow hue and varied in size. The newer diamonds are whiter and more uniform.
The band for the new ring is made from 9ct White gold square wire. It is rolled down on the rolling mill and shaped and formed into the band ready to soldered. After soldering the band is rough finished on the outside and polished on the inside. I laid out and drilled the hole for the centre diamond. The ring is now ready to be hallmarked.
With perhaps too much optimism I sent the ring off to the Edinburgh assay office hoping it would be returned soon. Unfortunately, the announcement was then made for the closure of all non-essential businesses and the country entered lockdown.
I feel very fortunate that as I work from home and most of my sales are through the internet I was able to keep working throughout the lockdown. Keeping busy and doing something I love definitely helped me to keep well.
I was very busy over those months balancing homeschooling, childcare, running my business and supporting my husband while he moved his business online.
In time I started to run out of metal, with my suppliers and the assay office still closed I started to recycle my scrap silver and gold. Blasting metal with intense heat until it melts and then casting into useable ingots is incredibly satisfying and therapeutic. Then I ran out of gas, literally. I use maybe one bottle of Calor gas a year and it ran out just when I needed it most! After an extensive search, I finally found a supplier open and able to give me a new bottle. After months of only seeing my own close family and the cashier in the supermarket, it felt quite strange meeting a stranger outside a scrap yard exchanging my gas bottle and handing him cash! I was beyond grateful though and thrilled to be able to get back to work.
It was a huge relief when businesses were allowed to open again. The wedding ring was returned freshly hallmarked and was back on my bench ready to be set with the diamonds.
Setting stones is something that I find both exhilarating and terrifying. Having a stone click into place, in a seat I have cut feels amazing. On the other hand, lots can go wrong, stones can crack and chip, settings can be damaged and pieces ruined.
It took me a few days to prepare myself to finish this ring. I needed peace and time to get the job done. Having completed my orders and cleaned up my bench, I applied a combination of Minecraft, Youtube and snacks to keep my 6 year old entertained. I finally had an afternoon of minimal disruption and time to set the diamonds.
When I first started setting stones I practised with cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia are man-made and are (usually) universal in shape and size. Natural stones however are not and take a lot more time, care and patience to set.
The stones for this ring are flush set into the band. I love this setting, especially for rings that will be worn all the time as they are no prongs to catch and only the face of the stones is exposed reducing the risk of damage. A hole is drilled and then stone setting burrs are used to create a deep seat for the stone. Once the stone is snug it the setting the surrounding metal is pushed over the very edges of the stone securing it in place.
Finally, all 7 stones are set and the ring is finished.
I am never 100% happy with the items I make, my critical eye has developed along with my techniques and skills. I guess this how I learn and improve, my unofficial motto is “I will make it better next time”
I think this one turned out pretty well in the end.
All my best wishes to S & F for your October wedding and your future together.