My Grandfather, James Dean Lowery, passed away in the summer of 2009. His death resulted from complications after a knee surgery he had and was unexpected. Before he passed away he asked me to make a ring for my grandmother. A year after his death, not my usual turn around time, the ring is finished. Here is how it was made.
Sometimes, a drawing is made at the start of a project and is used as a guide during manufacture. For this project the stones that will be set, serve as the guide. The first step is to carve a wax that can be cast into metal. This small miter box is used to cut off a piece of wax ring tube large enough to create the ring.
The miter box is used to get a straight cut all the way through the wax.
This blue jewelry wax is quite tough and can be worked with files like this one to smooth out surface. In many ways the process is quite similar to working in metal directly.
This ring is going to have a center oval ruby and two side diamonds. Here the ring is being marked with center lines and ruby is used as a guide for the dimensions of the ring.
This is how it works. The diamond is laid on the wax.
Then a line is marked to show where to cut. All the excess wax has to be removed so it is important to know just where to cut.
A wax saw, which has very large teeth that remove a lot of material, is used to remove the bulk of the wax.
A file is used to true up the lines.
The cuts are made according to the lines that were marked in the wax.
Good lookin guy.
This pair of calipers is being used to mark the height of the ring.
Now the three different settings can be made out.
A check to make sure that too much material is not being removed. The ring gets worked in one dimension at a time. Here the height of the settings are cut, but the width of the entire ring is still the same.
A little bit more filling just to make sure the wax is flat.
Now the ring is being worked in this dimension. Dividers are used to mark how much wax to cut away.
The wax is cut in steps, so here the first layer is taken away.
Now the next set of lines are draw in.
Now the ring is starting to take shape. At this stage the wax is very rough, it will be smoothed out later.
A small file is used to true up the lines of the wax.
Now settings are rounded out a little and the seats for the stones are cut out.
There is still plenty of material left.
A rubber abrasive wheel is used to round out the settings.
The abrasive wheel is also used to carve and give the ring shank a little style.
The ring shank is tapered in in a few directions.
The taper and flaring can be seen from this angle.
The stones fit, the shape is good. The ring is ready to be sent off to the casters.
This is what the ring looks like after it has been cast in 18k gold. The casting has a dull skin on it and the large chunk at the bottom is the sprue that allowed the metal to flow into the casting.
First the sprue is removed with a saw.
The inside of the ring is filled to remove any skin and true up the inside shape.
The ring is stamped with an 18k content stamp. The leather underneath the piece helps protect the piece from deforming.
More rubber abrasive wheels are used to remove the casting skin and smooth out any rough spots.
This is what the settings look like before the seats are cut.
The stones do not fit in them and there for cannot be set yet.
Steel setting burs are used to carve out just the right seat for the stones.
Different sizes and shapes of burs are used to cut out just the right shape.
This is the basic idea. The stone is measured.
Then a bur is chosen that is a close match to the stone size.
Then that bur is used to cut the metal to the desired shape and size.
Now it’s looking like a ring.
The seats look good, the stones are ready to be set.
The side stones are set first using a chasing tool and a hammer to push the metal over the edges of the stones.
A steel bezel pushing too is used to collapse the gold around only the edge of the center ruby. This is a nerve racking job as too much pressure may cause the stone to chip or break and too little will leave the stone loose.
They’re in there, with no damage to the stones. The tool marks are then cleaned up with rubber abrasive wheels.
Before the final clean up the outside of the ring shank, or bottom part of the ring, is sand blasted using this table top sand blasting case.
The sandblasting gives the ring a unique texture.
A felt wheel with polishing compound is used to go back an and polish the inner areas.
This will leave only the outer shank with the sand blasted texture.
A final polish is done on the buffing wheel.
Now it’s a ring.
The polishing process leave the metal smooth and highly reflective.
Here the difference between the sand blast and high polished finishes can be seen.
My grandmother is not a gusher when it comes to gifts but I could tell by the way she showed the ring off to everyone at our family reunion this summer that she was very pleased with the way it turned out. Even though my granddaddy was not about to but the ring on her finger I’m glad I had the opportunity to finish the project for her. I think he would be pleased.
6 Responses to “Grandmama’s ring”
Leave a Reply