It is always good to keep up metalsmithing skills in relations a realistic working environment, where productivity is measured against speed and ability to work under pressure. Quality should never be compromised, however one can set up bench challenges to practice the increase of working speed and capacity.
This free tutorial on making a the above ring from the raw gold and rough gemstone right up to completing the ring and setting the gemstones is a good challenge, which with practice is achievable. Now, not everyone has the equipment to cut their own gemstone or do their own setting which is completely okay. This is just a personal challenge to further speed taking skill sets into account for a metalsmith.
You can set yourself similar challenges within your own working scope and experience.
I start at 8o' clock, one fine Sunday, with 30 grams of fine gold, the correct amount of silver and copper to make up an 18kt mix. And a lovely rough orange tourmaline I bought from Hilmar Bosch at http://africangemstones.co.za/
The challenge is completed in about seven hours doing the gem cutting, melting, metal fabrication, the setting and polishing of this ring.
The first thing is to pre-form the rough stone and dop it onto a dop for my gem cutting machine.
I cut on an Imahashi which is a fast production machine that is based on the "tang" type of traditional diamond cutting machine. And I cut standing up, not sitting.
I decide to set the diamonds for the ring I am going to make in white gold, so I weigh out the necessary components to make up white gold. Also, I have rolled out the shank of the ring and the flat piece for the tube that the yet uncut stone will be set in. Thirty grams of gold is much to much, so at the bottom left is the excess gold.
Okay, so now the white gold is melted and pre-rolled. The dopping glue is hard by this time, so the stone's pavilion can now be cut.
The pavilion is cut and polished. I am cutting a standard round brilliant, a cut I have done thousands of times before back in the '70's when I used to cut professionally, so I don't need any instructions---anymore :)
The dop is set up in the transfer jig. I dop glue to glue. For a look at how this is done, check out Gemstone Transfer / Dopping It is fast and hassle free. I believe Noah used to use wax in the Ark.
Then I bend the shank round, tap it up, file it to shape sand it down to 1200 and make sure the ring is size 'O', my pre designated size.
Now I roll out the white gold to the right width for the diamonds to be set in. The diamonds are .7mm in diameter, tiny itsy bitsy ones. And I make the tube for the tourmaline. I can do this, because I know the diameter of the stone now, what with the pavilion finished.
I have made a white gold strip and soldered it to the tube.
Here I have filed out the tube so that it fits onto the shank. I solder it into place and then I will drill out the center.
Drilling the holes for the diamonds takes an hour. A total of 18 diamonds to be set. Twelve in the tube and six in the shank.
Those little diamonds are a mission to set. I use a GRS engraving ball to hold the ring and I set under a microscope. That makes setting more labor intensive, but the stones are well set because one can see so well with a microscope. Best tool my aging eyes were ever given.
Right, so now all the diamonds are set and the next thing is to cut the top of the tourmaline.
The tourmaline is now finished and weighed at 1.35ct. She came out nicely, a lovely orange sunset colour. So now I will set the center stone, trim the tube, and polish and rouge the ring. Then all that is left is to clean it with the ultrasonic cleaner and do a last inspection.
Game, set and match. Done. Six and three quarter hours. So if I had stopped for tea breaks and lunch, I would still be able to complete this ring in one full working day.
Metalsmith Challenge - From raw materials to finished ring in 7 hours
or select other projects from Jewelry Making Tutorials List
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