One of the most recent rings to be added to my collection is this Rainbow Gems ring. The sterling silver band is set with a rainbow of colourful gemstones. Want to see how it is made? Read on……..
I use 2mm square sterling silver wire for this ring. I measure and cut the wire after shaping it around the mandrel. I find that by shaping before cutting I can get a tighter join.
I have recently discovered an excellent mixture call Argo Tect, it’s a powdered boric acid based flux and firescale inhibitor. When suspended in methylated spirits it creates a coating on the piece that protects and acts a flux. I was a little worried about the fumes as the safety guide is slightly terrifying but have been wearing my mask and face guard while using it and so far so good.
I have been impressed with the results, much cleaner to use that the borax cone and water, less fire scale saving time on sanding and polishing (yippee!) I love the way the methylated spirits burn green as it burns off.
Once I have prepared the ring for soldering I cut a tiny piece of hard silver solder and apply heat from my gas torch. I use my small butane torches for this and they are quite sufficient. The metal then needs to be washed and pickled in acid ready for the next step.
I find that 2mm a bit to thick to wear comfortably but I need the width and depth at the top to set the stones so the band needs to be shaped. I mark out were I want to shape and thin the metal and then get to work with my file. Shaping the ring this way takes some time and constant checking I am not removing to much metal and keeping it even.
Once the rough shape is decide (and they will all be slightly different) I further smooth and polish with wet and dry paper. I use a Luxi yellow polishing compound for my first stage polish and find it really effective. I try and get a good finish at this stage to reduce the need for much further polishing once the stones are set.
Last year I purchased a GRS benchmate vice. For something with no electric parts it seemed an expensive piece of kit but it is AMAZING! I use it all the time. The bench peg daily and the stone setting arm and holder whenever I am setting a ring. The GRS vice has two attachments that allow a ring to held internally or clamped vertically. I use the internal clamp for this ring as it allows me to apply pressure to the outside of the ring with our distorting it too much.
I measure out the spacing between the stones and pilot holes are drilled using a 0.80mm drill. A seat for each stone is then carefully cut and the stones placed. I use a combination of stone setting and round burrs. When I first started stone setting I used a lot of synthetic stones like cubic zirconia. These are very uniform in shape matching the gauge of the setting burr perfectly. With the natural stones in this ring each stone is slightly different in width and depth which creates more of a challenge.
Once the stone is seated I use a smooth and polished tool called a burnisher to form the metal down and over the edge of stone, as the metal moves it holds the stone firmly in place. I love this type of setting as it does not catch or scratch.
Once all of the stones have been set the ring is ready for more polishing and finishing. I use Eveflex polishing tools, the green is my favourite to remove any scratches or marks from the setting process. They are great as are kind to the stones. A final polish with Luxi white and a dip in the ultra sonic and this ring is ready for its new owner.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my process and will subscribe to join me on my next jewellery adventure.