Hammered, Organic White Gold & Diamond Engagement Ring

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This lovely little ring left the workshop recently for a proposal on a coastal road trip. It’s inspired by the local, Cornish seaside, the shape of the waves and the bride-to-be’s wish for something a little unconventional but still clearly an Engagement Ring.

Making the Ring:

I began with a length of 18ct white gold wire and forged its ends into points. I added layers of small hammer marks, building up an even texture across the metal’s surface. This left the wire ‘work hardened’ and tough to bend so I heated it to an annealing temperature, restoring malleability to the gold. Once cool I could begin to shape it into a ring.

I formed the ring around a steel mandrel, a conical former, which aids in the shaping of the majority of the rings made in my workshop. I bent the ends of the wire past each other, allowing me enough spare metal to form the twist which will come to hold the diamond.

After some careful measuring I pulled the arms of the ring around into a spiral, refining the shape by hammering it across one of my smallest silversmithing stakes. I filed the arms a little, taking more weight from the front of the ring and restored little patches of texture that got damaged along the way. With some gentle manipulation I fitted the tapered diamond setting and soldered it into place.

I check throughout the process that the ring I’m making actually looks like the drawing – and this one matches up well. So from there I refined the setting a little, dropping the height and got the diamond in place.

A final polish to take out any last sandpaper marks and the ring is done. After chatting about it with the customer we’ve left the 18ct white gold un-plated, which lets the natural, grey/silver colour of the metal shine through and it looks warm and splendid:

 

Recycled Engagement Ring

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I was recently asked to remodel a shop bought engagement ring. It was made in a design which just didn’t suit the customers lifestyle and as a result of this the diamond had come out the setting. The customer wanted to continue to wear the sentimental stone but felt that it would simply break again if I repaired the current ring.

Now this lady freely admits to being heavy handed so the new ring had to be super sturdy, low (to avoid catching on things) and needed to suit her other rings. The metal that I had to work with was 18ct White Gold but the customer has a soft spot for red gold and wanted to incorporate some of that too.

We worked out a design with a stripe of red gold, which would add a splash of colour but still match the rest of her white gold wedding set. She also loved the idea of a really handmade finish so hammering the surface was a good way of achieving this.

Recycling the Old Ring:

I began work by sawing the old 18ct white gold ring in two and rolling these halves into new pieces of wire. I bought square, 9ct Red Gold wire, and rolled that down to match the white gold. I bent these wires round into rings, soldered up the joints and was left with three rather thin new rings:

Making the New Ring:

I layered these thin rings up (double and then triple checking that I had the red one in the middle!) before clamping them with cotter pins. These held everything in place while I soldered the stack together. You can just see in the photo that I’ve lined up the solder joints in all three of the narrow rings so that I can find it again. I’ll cut the final ring here to add the setting for the diamond.

Once the ring had cooled and I’d cleaned it up I filed the surface smooth and could begin to see neat stripes of colour appearing.

I textured the ring by gently hammering it against a steel mandrel. Using the ball head of a hammer I built up a texture of small, round hammer marks which catch the light beautifully.

From here I cut through the ring and filed out a gap to fit a tapered circular tube. This will form the new setting for the diamond. I soldered this into place (conveniently forgot to take a photo) and the main structure of the ring was done. From there I polished it, sent it off for hallmarking in Birmingham and set the stone.

Finished Ring – Recycled 18ct White Gold, 9ct Red Gold & Diamond:

The resulting ring is a really nice blend of the old and the new. Using the original gold and a sentimental diamond keeps a connection to the past but provides and new ring that can be worn and enjoyed.

 

 

Inherited Pearl Ring

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This ring began when a client brought me a row of pearls that she’d inherited. I work with pearls a lot, I trained as pearl stringer after university and so I have a good understanding of them and an appreciation for their qualities.

The main issue with any pearl taken from a row of pearls is that it has a hole drilled all the way through it. This usually makes it unsuitable for setting into rings or studs, as you’re restricted by the visibility of the hole.

However, this client wanted a ring to allow her to keep one of the inherited pearls close to her and after a little thought we came up with a design that would allow this.

Design:

Her saltwater pearls are a wonderfully warm, creamy colour so while the bulk of the ring would be silver I added a touch of 9ct red gold to bring out this warmth. The high sides of the setting are designed to protect the relatively soft pearl which is riveted into the ring using the existing drill hole.

In the end we opted for a fusion of designs A & B, squaring the corners of the box holding the pearl and making the setting entirely out of red gold.

Making:

Soldering the gold setting onto the silver ring was a tricky process. The whole thing needed to be kept square and parallel or the two sides wouldn’t grip the pearl correctly. After a bit of trial and error I rigged something up on a honeycomb soldering block that kept it all in line so that I could solder the two metals together.

A bit of cleaning up followed that before I could polish the ring (to bring out the hammer marks on the silver) and check the fit of the pearl with a piece of wire:

Once it was riveted into place the pearl sat perfectly within the red gold ‘box’ setting and balanced the ring nicely. It’s a neat, geometric solution to using a pearl from a necklace and I love that I’m allowing inherited jewellery to continue to be used and enjoyed.

Finished Ring:

Snowflake Diamond Engagement Ring

Sketching the Ring:

This ring evolved from a request for a classic, dainty ring with lots of sparkle and a contemporary twist. A lot of sketching ensued and I eventually narrowed it down to an asymmetric, cluster style ring using a mixture of diamond shapes. I love pear shaped stones, so being able to use a few of those was a bonus:

 

My very accommodating customer gave me free rein to chose the diamonds themselves and I found a beautiful, clear D colour stone for the centre. I matched the outer stones to this for a unified feel and set to work drawing the final design up in CAD.

Making the Ring:

With the ring rendered fully on a computer I printed it in casting resin, a process which allows a 3D printed piece to be put through traditional lost wax casting production. The result was a perfect replica of my original drawing, cast in platinum. I checked it for size (as shrinkage occurs during the casting process) and stretched it a little to make it a size I.

The 3D printing and casting process left a rough texture on the surface of the ring so I filed and sanded it gently, removing marks and smoothing out the profile of the knife edged section on the band of the ring. After that I polished the whole piece, bringing the platinum up to a bright shine:

Finished Ring:

Fully set the final ring is pretty stunning and has a beautiful, delicate sparkle. The polished platinum sets off the diamonds beautifully and the asymmetric layout of stones really works. This ring has now gone off to it’s new home:

Cuttlefish Cast Wedding Rings

Back in the spring I made these beautifully textured, cuttlefish cast wedding rings. The unique markings are left by the cuttlefish bone that the ring is cast from, making each one an individual.

Yellow Gold:

The casting process begins with melting down casting grain, in the case I used 18ct Fairtrade Yellow Gold which is a wonderful warm, yellow colour:

Pouring the Gold:

Using my torch I get the metal up to a molten temperature, rolling it around in the crucible to ensure that it’s moving freely. I then hold my breath and chose a moment to pour it straight into the mould, keeping the heat on the gold all the way:

Cleaning the Cast Ring:

Once free from the mould the ring is fairly rough and edged with little tendrils of metal which escaped the mould as the heat burned the cuttlefish bone away. I file these off easily and then saw away the ‘sprue’, the funnel of metal where the created by the gold entering the mould:

After that I thoroughly sand the inside of the ring, leaving a smooth interior surface suitable for hallmarking and engraving:

This polishes up to a beautiful gloss and I burnish the outside of the ring to bring out that wonderful cuttlefish texture:

Morganite & Yellow Gold Ring

On the left is a costume jewellery ring and, on the right, a 9ct yellow gold, morganite and white sapphire ‘copy’ made to order for a client who loved the feel of this ring but not the materials!

An aspiring jewellery designer herself the client had an existing mold, made a few years ago, which she had never used to produce a ring. I was able to use that mold to produce wax copies and then modify them to suit the styles of stone setting that we had chosen.

I filled in the top of the ring with extra wax and carved new setting faces onto the inner slopes. This provided a better surface to set the beautiful, cushion cut, Morganite that we’d chosen.

Once cast the ring looked quite rough so I set about cleaning it up at the bench, taking off harsh marks left from adding wax and removing the fine, matt texture that had been left by the lost wax casting process. After fully sanding the ring I polished it, bringing the whole surface up to a uniform finish. With the central stone selected I matched up nearly 30 small, white, sapphires to form a glittering band around the top edge of the ring.

After setting the ring with the cushion cut Morganite, and a band of white sapphires, I plated the top face with bright, white rhodiumm. This pale canvas really brings out the colour of the Morganite and makes the peachy tones of it pop:

 

Tanzanite & Silver Constellation Bangle

This lovely little commission was designed to celebrate a 45th Birthday. It’s patterned with a scattering of 45 tiny blue tanzanites and a myriad of small drill holes:

 

Bracelet Sketch Silver
Bangle Sketch

 

It began as a simple, oval wire bangle which I polished and then matt finished with a heavy, stippled texture. After that I marked out the pattern of the constellation before drilling it and marking the bangle up for setting. A mixture of 1mm, 1.5mm and 2mm tanzanites are set around it, flush with the surface of the silver.

The final piece is a subtle collection of silvery blue shades. The blue of the tanzanites matches beautifully with the soft gleam of the silver:

Silver and tanzanite bangle

 

 

Project: The Contemporary Jewellery Exchange

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Last summer I got involved in the international Contemporary Jewellery Exchange, a project created and managed brilliantly by Olga Raben, a Norwegian Jewellery Designer and Maker. Contemporary Jewellers from around the world are paired up by Olga, based upon the style of their work. They then get in touch and swap a few messages, gathering a sense of each other before secretly making a piece to exchange.

I’m a big fan of the postal service and letter writing so this project was really exciting – plus I got to meet another jeweller and work to commission for them. I was paired with Lynne Glazzard, a jeweller and enameller based in Yorkshire who has a wonderful eye for texture and the landscape. She uses etching in her work too and has a back catalogue of pieces which features some beautiful little silver buildings:

After we exchanged some long and detailed facebook messages we decided that I would make a ring for Lynne and she would make a necklace for me. She liked the use of pearls in my work and I told her how wonderful I thought her little houses and buildings were. That settled we then had to keep our work a secret, get it ready for a postage deadline and send them to each other as a surprise.

I had a lot of fun working on the ring, it felt incredibly open ended, while many commissions can be resistrited by a lot of perfectly logical specifics. I toyed with ideas for etching, playing about with the patterns that I wanted to use and eventually settled on working on something evocative of sea spray (Lynne was living by the coast at that point) with a bubbly, watery feel to it.

I used pearls, because Lynne had mentioned them, and set them securely in cup settings (like my tidal rings LINK) sitting at jaunty, wave rocked angles. I also mixed a little 18ct yellow gold in there, to really bring out the colour of the dark pearl:

Lynne’s piece to me was a gorgeous little bundle of textures, in the form of a slanted dwelling on a square link chain. Clearly my love of birds had come across too because there’s an enamelled charm hanging from the necklace too!

Lynne Glazzard for Becca Williams 2
Lynne Glazzard’s Pendant for me

 

It sits really well on me and is such a great piece for days when I want to make my jewellery a real statement. You can see the rest of the matches online at the Exchanges Facebook Page and it’ll soon be available in a book, from the website.

 

Commission: Antique Silver Coin Bracelet

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Every now and again I get asked to make something really traditional. It’s almost always a lot of fun, if a bit of a puzzle sometimes! This customer contacted me regarding her selection of silver threepence pieces, which she wanted made into a bracelet. It needed to be in the traditional, scaled,style, linked together using over 200 tiny silver jump rings.

I’ve never worked with antique silver before but these coins are sterling (they’re all dated between 1911 and 1919) they behaved just as any other sterling would. They soldered easily and neatly using standard silver solders.

I added two rings to each coin before stringing them together into the finished pattern. I then soldered closed each ring along the chain (for added security when it’s worn). Finally I made a little bridge of chain to connect the catch to the bracelet.

The finished piece moves beautifully through your hands, fully articulated by all of the little links. It’s a great little tactile piece of wearable history.

Commission: Recycled Diamond Earrings

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Sometimes I get asked to recycle old family jewellery into something new and these earrings are a great example of this:.25 carat diamond studs

They’re simple, classic diamond studs but they’re made from one new diamond and one old one, taken from a client’s unworn engagement ring. It seemed a shame to leave this sentimental stone in a box so I matched another diamond to it and now she has a great pair of wearable earrings with a personal story.

 

Original Engagement Ring shank with the brand new Diamond Earrings
Original Engagement Ring shank with the brand new diamond earrings
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