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.