This really is a fairly simple ring to make.
I used 23 gauge fine silver sheet, 18 gauge sterling silver wire, and 10 gauge fine silver wire.
Remember that you’ll have to accommodate for the silver around the cabochon you choose to determine the final size of the ring.
First up this is just the way that I make my jewelry. I’m self-taught and make loads of mistakes and don’t always do things the best way.
I’m a bit of a muddler really and so the way I do things and the tools I use are not meant to be set in stone.
The best way to view this How To is to take a looksee and see if it’s something you’d like to experiment with.
I won’t be answering the door to any subpoena’s for incorrect information.
I start all of my pieces with a quick drawing to get a feel for what I’d like to start with.
Sometimes these are brilliant pieces of art work.
Here you can see that I’ve already made the collar for the cabochon, but you don’t have to do that first.
I just happened to have this one hanging around for a while because I started off with an idea for it, then couldn’t make up my mind.
I’ve got a lot of indecision on my table.
Then I stamp and cut out little pieces of silver.
Lots of little pieces of silver.
Which I then play around with on the sketch I’ve made adding some silver balls that I have laying around.
Every time I turn off my torch for the day I take out a charcoal block and use up the excess gas in the line to make balls out of the scraps I have laying around.
This way I feel as though I’m not wasting anything and the bonus is I have loads of little balls just waiting for a home.
Of course, however many balls I have hanging around I never seem to have the exact size I’m looking for.
Life can be complicated like that sometimes.
Once I’ve come up with a plan I then take a piece of 18 gauge wire and wrap it around the stone.
I try to do this loosely to give it a little personality.
Here I’ve used sterling silver because that’s what I had hanging around and so I annealed it first to make it more pliable.
If I were using fine silver I wouldn’t have to anneal it first as it’s much softer.
Once I think it’s interesting enough and balances out the stone nicely, I place the little pieces of silver on it to get another feel for it.
And then cut out a piece of the 23 gauge fine silver sheet to solder it on to.
I usually cut out the shape of the pencil line I’ve made around the piece so that I don’t waste so much silver, but for today I’ve just measured out a rough piece to work with.
I did have lots left over to make new leaves though so it’s all good.
Now I clean it up with my handy sanding pad.
And place the collar and wire on it to solder.
NOTE: I cover all of the plate with flux.
Some old gentleman at one of the shows I did a couple of years ago told me that this helps prevent fire scale, so I decided to believe him and that’s what I’ve done ever since.
Seems to work.
(See more info on this at the bottom of the post)
Also you can see above that I haven’t cleaned the wire for soldering.
I know you’re supposed to, but I’ve found that it’s really the correct heat and the area you heat around the piece you want to solder that is the key. I do, however, always clean the back plate.
I’m not recommending it, just explaining what you see in the photo.
Next I sand around the area to clean it up.
Sometimes this is enough, but sometimes you will need to pickle it.
I then check that the stone still fits using either dental floss to ease it out again, the sticky wax on a stick thing, or, if it’s willing, by just tapping it out.
And now you add the bits.
I have attempted to make a little youtube video showing how I do this.
It’s quite boring so I’ve sped it up a bit, but if you want to take a look at it I’ll put it at the end of this post.
You’ll see that I place each piece of stamped silver individually around the collar. Sometimes heating a little blob of solder on the bottom of a leaf etc.,and then taking it over to the piece works well enough, but this time I found that I needed to place the solder on the wire around the collar first and then place the leaves, etc., on it for it to stay put.
I use tiny chips of solder from Contenti to do this.
I heat the wire a little then I gently heat a stamped leaf piece as I take it over to the solder. I melt a tiny piece of solder onto it’s underside and then I bring it back to it to the piece to fix it in place.
If you watch your flame and control where your heat is you won’t undo the pieces you’ve already soldered.
Continually watch the silver. You will see when a piece of solder is going to re-flow. Just take your flame away and come in gently again to the piece you want to solder.
This will work most every time once you get the hang of it..
NOTE: You can place all of the pieces on the piece at once and heat it up evenly until they’re all soldered, but I find that not all the pieces will stay put and I also like to make it up as I go along. You’ll see in the video that I sometime try different sizes of balls, for instance, or I might like to add or take away something.
Now I pickle it and cut it out.
You don’t have to use a sharpie to out-line it, but I find it helps me to keep the back plate just a little proud of the top which is the look I’m going for as, for me, it adds to the depth of the piece.
And now this stage is done.
Next up is the ring shank.
You can make this anyway you prefer, but for the purpose of this How To I’ll show you how I made mine.
I took two pieces of 10 gauge wire which I rolled slightly through the rolling mill.
You can leave them round if you wish, or gently hammer them if you prefer.
Once I flattened them slightly I then bent them so that their middles met to be soldered.
That’s when I found out that I’d used one piece of fine silver, and the other piece, which I’d found lying on my table, was sterling.
Told you I mess up a lot.
My life, I tell you.
But we’re not going to talk about that anymore.
Needless to say, when you have joined two pieces of the correct wire together you will bend them around your ring mandrel.
Depending on whether you measured out you wire before hand, which I didn’t, you may have some excess which you can then mark off at the size you want the shank to be.
And cut down accordingly.
You will then need to take your rubber/rawhide hammer to shape the ends around the mandrel.
Next you will need to angle off the cuts so that they will sit flush to the base of the ring top.
You can do this a couple of ways.
By holding it in you fingers to file down.
Or your thumb.
Or you can sand it.
I stick a piece of that sticky backed sanding paper on my table next to my bench block.
Once the ends sit flush you are ready to solder it onto the ring top.
Here I’ve already stamped the bottom with my mark and silver content. You can do this as I’ve done or you can stamp them on the ring shank itself.
I usually stamp my pieces after I’ve made them and before I’ve set the stone.
I balance the piece on one of my disc cutting punches and stamp it that way.
Don’t question me. It’s just a thing I do…
And now you’re ready to finish up.
I cleaned up the bottom with my new favourite abrasive wheel.
You can choose the best way for you.
Then I cut down the collar.
I ran a pencil around the inside of the collar keeping it flush to the top of the stone.
You might want to cut off the collar differently depending on the cut of the cabochon. This one had a distinctive curve that stopped without transitioning smoothly to the flat top of the stone and as I didn’t want the collar to sit short of the top I decided to roll it over the sides of the cabochon to meet the flat top.
I don’t know if that makes sense, but a long story short I felt that the collar would look wrong curved just half way up the edge of the stone.
I next brushed it with Black Max and buffed it down as much as I could at that point.
After which I set the stone and covered it with masking tape to protect it and finished off buffing it until I got the finish I was looking for.
I prefer this brushed look, but you can finish yours using the method you prefer.
And there you have it.
Your new ring.
Hope that all made sense.
I’d love to see what you make.
Happy Mother’s Day.
As I didn’t want you to watch sugar dissolving I sped this video up a bit, but I think you’ll get the gist. Here I’m soldering the bezel collar and the 18 gauge wire to the back plate using a larger #1 Smith nozzle on my torch which helps to heat the whole area evenly. The solder pieces are already placed inside the bezel collar and the whole piece is raised up from the honeycomb block on one of those titanium strips which I’ve bent into a triangle shape to support it. Once the solder pieces (pallions) begin to shine slightly you might just be able to see that I lift the corner of the silver plate up from the titanium prop with my pick. This allows the heat to get underneath the piece and helps the solder flow.
This lifting of the corner is a great tip and my solder flows every time I do it. I use less solder because of it and it really flows evenly around the whole area leaving no pits on the inside or outside.
Depending on how much you use some of the outside wire will be caught up in the solder flow, but generally only those areas that are closest to the collar. You’ll see that after the bezel collar is soldered I use my pick to pick up small chips of solder to attach the outer edges of the wire to the back plate. In this instance I didn’t need the wire to be completed soldered down as I wanted it to lay in a more natural flow around the piece. I just needed it to be secure, but you can use this technique to fix it all down if you need to.
If you use this technique, at times, if the pieces to solder aren’t evenly heated, you might find that as you bring the solder on your pick to the piece it will flow up over the wire and not underneath it to join it to the back plate. If this happens take another small chip of solder and hold it down with your pick as you heat it so that it doesn’t have the chance to go where you don’t want it to.
This second video, which isn’t 7 minutes long by the way, but is thankfully only as long as the first video, shows how I attach the small leaves and balls.
I flux everything and then heat it up. As I mentioned above at first you can see me taking each stamped piece to the small chips on my board, heating them slightly so that the solder sticks to their undersides and then taking them back to the place I want to attach them to. Usually this works fine, but for some reason today, (probably because I was being watched) they wouldn’t stick. To remedy this I then took the small chips and placed them on the wire where the attachment was to go and soldered them that way.
Let me know if I’ve missed anything out, or something doesn’t make sense.
UPDATED INFORMATION – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK.
If you have anything to add that may be of relevance just let me know and I’ll update it here.
- First commenter: Only one issue: that particular flux is not a prevention flux for firescale. It’s a flow flux, to facilitate solder flow. No need to put it all over the piece; just use a little where you want your solder to flow.
- From another commenter: I thought all flux covered firescale & flow. No?
- Original commenter: No. There are flow fluxes and barrier fluxes. Neither does both jobs.
- Another commenter: Sooooo cupronil says it’s both a flux and a fire coat preventative … is that not the case?
- Cupronil contains some boric acid and some do use it like Prips as both, but I have not found it to be as good as using 2 separate fluxing preps- all in what you get used to and how you were trained. My training was to fire coat thoroughly, then use flow flux only where you would solder.