Mimi and her girls

Mimi and her girls
Mimi and her girls

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rings and Things - Part 1- The Design

I have to get better about tending to my blog. It's really fun, but I just never seem to know what to say when I sit down to write and all the things I wanted to say just seem to have flown out of my head when I do sit down. Today I decided I will definitely post and do better for the rest of this year!

Being an aspiring metalsmith, it took me a while to get to the point I would attempt a ring. They are so darn small! They are so complicated. I wanted to share the process just so ring lovers everywhere would know how much goes into creating these little beauties.

Rings- geesh, every woman I know has at least one, some have a collection that would compete against the crown jewels. Me, I love rings, I like all the varied shapes, designs, colored stones and even just designs in metal. I haven't gotten to the point of wearing them on multiple fingers, but I do wear one or more (stacked of course) on each hand. So, a little blog about something as simple as a ring- more about the process of creating this small but eye catching little piece of jewelry that can have meaning of friendship, marriage or just says we love to have fun. I hope those who love and purchase rings will appreciate just how much goes into the process before you put that little ring on your finger!

First comes the idea- The Design as it were- do you want a simple band or fancy, a stone - large or small, faceted or not, gem or natural cabachon, all metal- gold, silver copper or mixed metals. Do you see where I'm going with this? Creating a ring is no different than any other piece of jewelry- so many choices. Now comes the hard part- is this ring going to be a unique one of a kind piece or is it going to be something you want to offer your customers on an ongoing basis so they can have more than one, different colors or give as a gift to a friend that admired theirs. I love the whole idea of stacking rings, you can change your selections to match your outfits, have plain metals mixed in and wear as many as you want. I have started making a bunch of them and can't wait to offer them to my customers. Stacking rings are just so much fun! How can you not love these?


These have to be customized to anyone who orders them, you can't just make one size, so that involves having a lot of stock on hand- silver, gemstones bezel cups or bezel wire and silver sheet and all those grand mealsmith materials like torch, solder, hammers, bezel pusher, burnish- oh, the list goes on and on.

Now, back to the making of the ring. Assuming you only want to do one- or you have only one terrific stone nd you want to show it off- what next? First, you have to measure the stone or know it's calibrated size if it's a standard shape. For a non- standard shape, measuring the outside and then the height is of the utmost importance. Next you find the bezel wire you want- plain, serrated, scalloped, gallery wire- and it has to be just the right height to hold the ring in place without covering it up too much. Now the fun part, you measure around the ring again with the bezel wire and cut- the old adage measure twice, cut once- is really important here, otherwise you have a lot of wasted silver bezel wire laying about. Now you carefully solder that together and clean it up so no seam is visible, check that it still fits around your stone. Not fitting is another blog entry!

Now, find a piece of silver sheet for the back of the ring. You have to solder the finished bezel to that. Cutting a piece larger than your shaped bezel is important because the little devil bezel might move when you solder the bezel to the silver sheet. Another question- are you going to make the back larger than the stone and add embellishments or are you going to cut and file it off so it's a perfect fit with no material showing? Are you going to leave the back solid or will you saw out a piece of the back to let a little light shine through the stone- see this is harder than you thought! Remeber, you have to use a different solder than you did on the bezel when you attach it, otherwise the first solder join will melt apart. Solder comes in hard, medium and easy and each melts at a different temperature. Hardtakes the most heat, easy the least. I always start with hard and work my way down to easy if I am only doing a basic ring. Again, another blog post if your doing something complicated where you need to protect a second stones set next to a bigger one or adding a wire design or other embellishments.

I will stop here so you can just think about the design process. Keep in mind, we haven't even made the band yet or checked to see if the stone will still fit into the bezel soldered on to the backplate. Heck- I haven't even gone through soldering on the backplate yet! If it doesn't fit, you have to usually start all over.
Next time you are browsing through the rings category- just look at the top- the part everyone sees and know that lots of work went into just that part that you want everyone to admire when you wear the ring.
I promise to blog again tomorrow with Part 2 - Making the band and sizing. Part 3 will be all about setting the stone and finishing to make it pretty and shiny!

I hope you've enjoyed this first entry and come back to read more.
Have a wonderful day everyone.

Posted in General by ppennee on April 12, 2010 at 3:47am
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1 comment:

  1. I am also new to this and was so happy to run across your site. I also make rings so I definitely understand the time involved. I make wire wrapped rings and just recently started working with metal clay. So much fun. I enjoyed reading your information and it was very easy to understand. Hope we can learn and share other ideas with each other. I love your designs - very pretty stuff. Keep up the good work.
    Christiane :-)