Changes Ahead

posted in: Uncategorized 1

As the pandemic took hold in the UK my partner and I bought our first property. We managed to exchange contracts the Friday before the March pub closures, when the idea of lockdown began to seem real.

I say ‘property’ because it isn’t a traditional house. In fact we’ve bought the ground floor of a retail unit on Penryn High Street. Over the summer we’ve negotiated our way through planning permission and obtained the right to convert it into a live/work unit. A team of great local tradespeople have helped us to build a flat at the back of the property and now it’s time to begin work on the front. 

This space is going to become my new workshop and a gallery – my first retail building. In the past workshop visitors have been welcome, but only by appointment. Now I plan to have proper opening hours, offer a much bigger repairs and alteration service and sell work directly from my own window. It’s an incredibly exciting move. 

Work began last week on the new workshop space and I’ll be announcing the opening plan soon.

Making a 9ct Yellow Gold & Diamond Ring

posted in: Uncategorized 0

I began this commission just after the COVID19 lockdown started in the UK. Having a workshop to retreat to has been invaluable and I’m so lucky that I was able to work through the outbreak and stay sane!

This piece is a little more geometric than my usual work but the client had a really clear idea of what they wanted.

Making the setting:

In the past I’ve bought pre-made settings for jobs like this, cast by large companies. It’s cost effective but my usual suppliers were closed so I went back to basics and made my own. I used the very clear instructions in Sonia Cheadle’s book Mounting and Setting Stones to draw up a flat version of the setting.

I cut a paper template for the setting, sawed it out of a piece of gold sheet and bent it basically round with a pair of pliers. After soldering the join I did the final shaping in a collet block, which trued it up nicely.

Forming the ring:

With the setting made I turned my attention to the band of the ring. I began with square wire that I added a rounded profile to. From there I measured out the length of metal that I’d need (leaving the excess in place) and hammered the ends to a taper. I kept the angles symmetrical so that, as they end of the wire fold around, they form shape of the shoulders.
Once the wire was fully rounded I could slot the setting into the front, filing little notches into it so that it sat at just the right level.

It takes me a while to be satisfied that I’ve got a setting in straight – I’ll often move it several times before tying it into place with steel binding wire. Once I had it though I soldered it into place, relying on the wire to keep the placement while the ring is hot and the solder flows.

Once the structure of the ring was fixed I measured out the final length of the arms of the band and cut them down to match the drawing. At this point I paused in production and sent the ring off to the Assay Office for a hallmark to be applied. I tend to do that at this stage so that any damage incurred while marking can be easily repaired, without risk to the stone.

Setting the diamond:

Once the ring was hallmarked I used a heat mouldable plastic (called White Morph) to hold it securely and support it during setting. I cut a seat of the stone using a selection burrs and lightly filed the edge of the bezel a little thinner.

With the help of a handy strip of blue tack I worked the metal over the edges of the stone to hold is securely in place. I trimmed the edge back with a flat scorper and then gave it a final polish.

The finished ring:

I was really pleased with the final result, I think I’ve captured the design drawing and the client was delighted.