Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wedding bands and a new project

This week has been full of client meetings, new business and wedding band orders so I haven't had as much time for our pendant project as I would have liked. So I thought I would post a couple of really cool marriage of metal wedding bands that I have made in the last little bit. One of my specialities is making rings out of different colours of gold, particularly white and red gold. The colour contrast between the two metals, and the warm earthy tone that the copper lends to the red gold make the combination really special. This one is prototyped in four pieces, cast separately, ground and pre-polished for a perfect solder seam and then fused together under high heat.

This custom ring came out of taking elements from two different rings the client was considering and combining his favorite parts of them to make a new design. I think it turned out amazing. Great texture, and colour combination make this a very unique mens wedding band.

Lastly, I wanted to give you a sneak peek to my next project, I knew exactly what I wanted to make for this stone the moment I saw it. It's a beautiful 2.35ct  Spessertite Garnet from Madagascar. No wavering this time. Clean and modern with baguette diamonds, with maybe a small hint of Art Deco flare. I'll keep working on the pendant next week and start the Garnet prototype as well!

Friday, August 20, 2010

18k pendant with diamonds

Now we are on to the fun part. There is something very old school about shaping metal with a hammer. My great, great grandfather was a blacksmith. In my imagination I can see him in his workshop, leather apron on, covered in black from the coal fire, hot forging a big piece of steel into a sword for a nobleman... His reality was much less glamourous I'm sure, he probably made tools and horseshoes for local farmers as his main trade, I wonder if he ever made a sword?...
Ahem, back to the business at hand. Precious metal is cold forged. At the end of the last post I annealed the disc and relaxed the molecules, making the metal nice and soft to work with. I am using a vise to hold a ball punch. The ball punch supports the metal disc as I hammer on it and helps to bend the metal into a soft curve. I start on the outside and work my way towards the center of the disc hammering clockwise in a circle.

Being careful not to hammer my thumb, I slowly work my way toward the center.

Getting closer...

The disc is starting to take on a nice soft domed look, I will need to do a second round of hammering to give it the hight that I need.

The last step is called upsetting the edge, this thickens the metal at the edge of the piece and helps prevent cracking.

The metal is now work hardened. The metal structure is compressed and stiff, and any further manipulation would result in cracking. So we anneal again to soften it up and get the metal ready for the next round of hammering...
Next week we complete the dome and put on the texture!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

18k pendant with diamonds

The sheet of 18k that I am working with is 40mm square and 1mm thick. How do you turn it into a pendant? First I use dividers to find the center of the sheet by scribing a line down the center in both directions. Where they intersect is the center of the sheet. I then use the dividers to scribe a circle.

I use a jewellers saw to carefully cut on the outside of the scribed line turning the square into a circle.

I dip the circle in a mixture of alcohol and Borasic acid to coat it and protect it from coming into contact with oxygen while heating. Yellow gold and platinum don't react when heated but white gold and Sterling silver need to be protected when heated or you get a black coating that appears on your metal.

I then use a propane torch to heat the disc.

This process is called annealing. The heat changes the microstructure of the metal when it reaches 1400 degrees F, or a glowing red. Yellow gold can be quenched in water to cool it but white gold can become brittle and crack if quenched too quickly.
The metal is now nice and soft and ready to hammer and shape into a low dome. I will them anneal the metal a second time before putting on the final hammer finish. There is nothing worse then having a piece crack on you from overworking it.
Next week we are on to hammering!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

18k pendant with diamonds

For project #2 I wanted to use a different method than casting to make something sparkly. So I thought it would be cool to do a bit of forging. I plan to use this hammer to turn...

This sheet of 18k white gold into...

This pendant! If I use the sharp end of the hammer and start at the center and rotate the piece as I hammer I should get a really nice pattern to come out. The hammering will also turn the flat sheet into a low dome, creating a really pleasant soft look and feel

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finished project #1

All finished. I set the diamonds and had a couple of my neighbors here in the Distillery try it on to see how it looks and decided that it doesn't need hand engraving. It's modern, simple, elegant and too much ornamentation can sometime distract you from the form of the ring. It needs to be worn to get a real sense of the scale, it has presence, and strikes a nice balance between old world and new, I love it! 
I have bought the gold for my next project and my next post will have a concept sketch and a picture of the raw materials.