Aquamarine & Sterling Version
On January 28, I posted the early stages of making a custom ring to hold two stones a friend inherited. I was so delighted with the overlap design that I decided to make a similar one for sale in my etsy shop. The early stages were the same as posted in January. Below is progress on this version.
Soldering the Tube SettingThis ring will have a single stone — a round 3mm aquamarine. I placed the tube setting for it off centre at the overlap. I find that more interesting than putting it in the centre. It also shows more of the gap in the overlap design.
Here, the ring is held for soldering in jewelers' tweezers secured in a "third hand". How did I ever do anything before I purchased that helper?
Make It Shine
In this picture, I have done most of the polishing of the shank and tube setting.
I sanded the shank — 400, 600, 800, 1000, and 1200 grit papers — before bending and soldering it. It's just easier to do the heavy work on a flat blank. Once the parts were assembled, I started using 3M Radial Polishing Discs in ever finer grades. The early stages involve removal of fire scale — purple stains caused when heating sterling. It can take a long time to remove them and they can also be hard to see until you reach a high shine. That, of course, sends you back to the beginning. I finally learned to keep a piece of white paper handy. Placing the item on it cuts down on distracting reflections so the stains can be seen.
Next Up —Setting the Gem
I always wrap a piece in painters tape before stone setting. All setting tools are made of steel (like the burnisher in background here) and can so easily leave dents and scratches on the silver. Few things are worse than having to polish those out of your finished piece.
Here, the well wrapped ring is positioned on a sandbag for photo purposes. When setting the stone, it is held in a ring clamp. Here, I had just finished burnishing the tube setting onto the aquamarine. Next, close inspection with a magnifying glass. If the setting looks secure, I take a deep breath and toss the piece onto the bench. If the stone stays put, it's time to unwrap all that tape and do the final polishing.