A skilled craftsman shows how to make a gold ring from scratch
There is something very magical about gold jewellery. As much as any of us try to avoid it, we can't help but be drawn into looking at the stuff.
But, have you ever wondered how artisans turn raw gold into beautiful golden jewelry? Let's find out.
Step 1: Melt the gold
As you've probably already worked out, the very first step is to actually melt some solid gold pieces. Since gold is incredibly valuable, any and all scraps of old gold are often used.
Gold dust and strips of gold are first measured to get an idea of the total weight and then placed in a small crucible, mixed with a flux and another metal to make an alloy, and heated directly using a blow torch. The purest gold you can usually use for making jewelry is 22 karat.
The crucible is manipulated and shaken using some metal tongs until the golden pieces are fully molten. The molten gold is then poured into a small mold to make tiny ingots ready for crafting the jewelry.
Once in ingot form, the gold is further heated (technically called annealed) and gently stretched into a thin wire. While still hot, the wire is pulled through a roller machine to give it a more cylindrical shape or flattened to make a sheet of gold depending on the final design of the jewelry piece (in this case the latter).
Step 2: Make the main gold pieces of the ring
Once in sheet form, the gold is further heated, cooled, and cut into more strips. In this particular case, the gold stips will be used to form borders around the gemstone.
As gold is very soft as a metal, the strips of gold can then be formed into rings fairly easily. Special solder is then used to fix the ends of the gold strips together. Sheets of gold can also be trimmed down to form mounting "plates" for the gemstone.
In this case, the gold is trimmed to size and then filled into shape. All scraps of gold and gold dust are always collected so that they can be recycled later. The plates of gold can also be gently hammered into shape using a small hammer and anvil too.
For this piece, the ring (and gemstone) will be mounted between two gold plates, so they need to be heated once more using the blowtorch.
Then more gold solder is added and the gold ring is soldered to the plate as needed. Once done, the gold plates are then hollowed out by gently sawing out the middle of each.
The exposed holes are then refined using some basic tools like a file and Dremel tool. As before, all excess gold pieces are captured ready for reuse.
Once ready, the central jewel is then firmly pushed into its golden mounting on the ring.
Step 3: Make the main finger mounting ring
With the primary decoration of the ring now more or less complete, the next step is to form the main finger-ring. As before, a strip of gold is measured and cut down to size, heated, and then formed into a rough ring using tweezers.
The ring is closed and sealed using special solder, as before.
The rough ring is then placed on a ring sizer stick and gently hammered into shape.
For other decorations on this ring, like the braided effect gold, gold wire is thinned down to size and then twisted using basic crack tools and vice.
The braided gold is then placed around the main gemstone mounting on the ring, heated, and soldered.
Step 4: Polish and finish the ring
Once any gold pieces are complete, each is carefully polished using rotary sanders and by hand. The process needs to remove any blemishes from the gold, but not be too aggressive as to damage the gold itself.
Once all pieces have been polished up, the artisan can then begin to finish the final piece. The ring mount is taken and mounted on some iron wire. Then, the finger mounting ring is placed in position with some gold solder and welded into place using a blow torch.
Reinforcement is added in places using small arches of gold hammered into shape and then welded into place as needed too.
Before the final mounting of the gemstone, minor adjustments are made to the ring and then the jewel is pushed into place. To hold the gemstone in place, the gold mounting ring is then gently hammered tight around the jewel.
Great care is taken to not fracture the gemstone when doing this. Once happy, the artisan then uses finer and finer files to finish the piece and make it a true piece of art.
Once done, the ring is given a final series of polishes using polishing machines, a hot bath, and polishing powders. The ring is then ready to display and, ultimately, sell to its lucky new owner.
If you enjoyed watching this master artisan at work, you might like to find out how another master craftsman conducts their trade? How about, for example, watching a master blacksmith make some axes?