Making 18K Yellow Gold Studs with Aquamarines

Each year around the same times, in May and December to be exact, my Dad approaches me with a very special request: He is desperately looking for a Birthday and Christmas present for my Mum. Since he is the the ‘King-of-Shopping-Haters’ and I am the creative one in the family, it is obvious to him that I need to come up with an idea for the perfect gift à la ‘She’s your Mum… You know what she likes!’. Most of the time, he lets me know his budget and the colour spectrum he has in my mind and I am sent on my way!

Sometimes, this quest can be quite tricky. Sure, I know my Mum but she does not always fancy all of my designs. Trial and error… So, it is not always easy for me to come up with something I know she will like for sure.

This time though, despite his usual last-minute request, my Dad gave me two Baguette-shaped Aquamarines that he wanted to be turned into ear-studs. He envisioned a simple setting in 18K yellow gold. His instructions were pretty straight forward, so I did not want to interfere too much. Still, I was not keen on making a simple plain setting (I find that pretty boring) but I decided to go with a four-prong-setting instead.

Here are pictures of the making:

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.41.38 PMFirst sketches and calculations to place the 18K gold order. With me being used to the metric system, it can be quite a challenge to get everything right in inches. I was a little nervous when placing the order but thanks to a really nice Rio Grande employee, everything went smoothly.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.39.08 PMFiling and Folding of the box-setting from a strip of gold.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.39.41 PM    Soldering the box-settings with my mouth-blowing-torch.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.39.58 PMThe soldered settings.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.40.17 PMCleaning, filing and sanding of the outsides.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.40.34 PMSoldering of the prongs and the strip that is meant to hold the stud. 

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.40.55 PMOn the left: After soldering. On the right: After pickling. Before the prongs were soldered, I filed a bearing in the boxes that is meant to hold the stones comfortably.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.41.23 PMOn the left: Unpolished. On the right: Polished but not set yet.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 4.51.58 PMThe finished earrings.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 5.38.23 PMThe finished earrings.

Happy Birthday, Mama!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed making the earrings!

Thank you for reading.

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Making Wedding Bands

Last week, on August 24, we did it… Barry and I got married!I know that this will come to many as a surprise, as it did for us, but no worries, the big celebrations will take place next year, same date in Utica, NY.

I guess the saying ‘It never goes as planned’ is very true and it applies really well to our wedding ceremony and the making of our wedding bands.

A a jewellery maker, I am not allowed to make my own wedding rings. At least this is a very old and serious tradition in Germany. If you do it anyway, it is meant to be bad luck for your future marriage. Since I did not want to upset any marriage Gods, I knew for a long time that my good friend Christine Graf in Munich was going to be the one to make the rings for me. Barry had her make my engagement ring as well to my great surprise!

When Christine and I studied together in Birmingham in 2007, she wore this beautiful ring that she had forged from 24K gold. Previously, her aunt had given her some gold coins and she did not really know what to do with them, so she decided to turn them into something useful and make a ring for herself. She did not want to waste any of the material, so she did not cut or file it at all. Instead she forged it from a cast made of the coins. The traces of the hammer were still visible on the surface and gave it this really strong but very refined look. I liked the story of the making behind it and I knew then that this was going to be my wedding ring one day.

There is another very interesting detail one should keep in mind when choosing wedding bands. According to German tradition again, they need to be made from one piece. Bending and soldering the ring is not an option, since it will show a solder line, which is considered to be a sign for the marriage breaking one day. The ring needs to be made from continuous material, without a cut, so next to casting (the most popular option) the ring can be forged.

Originally, Barry and I had planned to get married in the autumn of 2013 but you know how it goes… ‘It never comes as planned’ and we had to hurry a little. Because of the shortness in time, Christine could not make the rings for us and my good friend Patrick McMillan from McMillan Metals in Providence offered to make them when I came to visit him for his birthday in early August. I am still thrilled and very thankful for his offer and generosity to do this for us. In return I promised to make his wedding rings one day, which makes me feel very honored and proud!

When Patrick and I talked about how to make the rings, we decided to make them from fine silver instead of 24K gold. Barry and my initial idea was to collect gold from the families and have it melt into the rings, so that there is the family and some meaning in the rings themselves. When I sat in Patrick’s studio, Barry and I had not even started to collect, so there was nothing to make the rings from.

Now, I think it was perfect sitting in Patrick’s studio not knowing what material to use, since Barry and I decided that we will have two sets of rings: The silver ones from our formal wedding ceremony and the golden ones, made by Christine, for the Big Wedding Bash next year with all our friends and family.

So, here are some pictures showing the process of the making. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Cuttlefish Casting.

The burned cuttlefish shell.

Super excited!!!!

The cast silver ‘bobbles’.

Patrick punching a hole.

Small hole.

Stretching the hole.

Medium hole.

Stretching the ring on a ring mandrel.

Bigger mandrel.

Big hole.

Final touch.

The finished rings.

We are married! 🙂

PS: Here is a picture of my beautiful engagement ring that Christine made for me from platinum, copper mesh and enamel.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like my FB ProonK page.