How to Make 24k Gold Mangalsutra Necklace
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If you have ever wondered how artisans turn pure gold into beautiful works of art, like a necklace, then you in luck. In the following guide, we will trace the creation of a Mangalsutra necklace from start to finish.
Mangalsutra means auspicious ("mangal") and threaded-together ("sutra") in Hindu.
In this sense, this form of jewelry is meant to represent the joining of the two souls of a man and his wife. A beautiful sentiment for a beautiful piece of art.
Like any project of this nature, you'll first need some stuff to get you started. Please note that this project uses 24K gold, but you can substitute for lower purity gold or silver. Alternatively, you could try to get as much gold as you can from some old electronics?
Tools and equipment needed
- Gold wire - new or reclaimed
- Gold shapes (crescents, teardrops, and leaves) - new or reclaimed
- Plasticine clay
- Modeling tools (file, etc.)
- Plaster of Paris
- Magnet polisher
- Dremel rotary tool
With your tools and materials in hand, we can now move on to making the necklace.
Step 1: Make some golden heart shapes
The first step is to take your gold wire and flatten it into a thin band of gold.
You can do this by hand using a hammer or a roller press if you have one. Next, take your blowtorch and heat up the gold until it is red hot.
Let it cool, and then stretch the wire out into a straight band. With that complete, coil the wire around a cylindrical object like a pencil or similar to form a heart shape at one end of the wire. Cut off the golden heart.
Flatten and tidy up the heart as needed using tweezers. Rinse and repeat to make four more golden wire hearts of gradually decreasing sizes.
Step 2: Create the heart designs
Next, take a block of plasticine clay and hammer it into a flattened disc. Then place the golden hearts in a ring around the clay disc.
With that complete, take some clay and fill the voids within the golden hearts to create raised 3-D heart-shaped molds.
Rinse and repeat for the four other hearts.
With that complete, take some more gold wire and shape into more heart shapes slightly smaller than the first ones you made. Place each new heart on top of the base hearts to start to enclose the heart-shaped molds.
Do the same for the other four hearts.
With that complete, take your small golden crescents and begin to add them around the perimeter of the main mold heart gold wire.
Continue adding them until you reach the main curves on either side of the heart. Once complete take a pair of gold leaf shapes and place them into the top trough of the heart to make a heart-shaped apple shape. Then add a small golden ball between the leaves.
With that complete, begin to add more heart-shaped crescents into the center of the heart shape. Press each crescent gently into the plasticine clay and follow the topography of the underlying heart mold.
Once you've added three, create a small ring of gold wire to trace the outline of the crescents. Once complete, take some tear-shaped golden pieces and add a ring of them below the central crescent. Ring the bottom of them using some more golden wire.
Continue to add more crescents and curves of gold to build out the details of the golden hearts as needed. At all stages, ensure the new golden details touch the other pieces of the design.
Use your judgment when creating the design, but ultimately let your creative juices flow. Try to add a variety of designs and textures to make the hearts as interesting as possible.
In this case, some small arcs or ribs of gold were made by coiling some gold wire and cutting it lengthways.
Once you are happy, rinse and repeat for the other four hearts. This will take some time, so enjoy the process.
Next, take some more golden wire and cut it into short lengths of filings. Place them onto your heatproof surface and heat them up until they are red hot.
This will melt them into small balls of gold. Leave to cool. Add these small golden balls to your heart designs, if required.
This can either be inside the main design or add around the main perimeter of the hearts between the crescents.
Rinse and repeat for the other four golden hearts as needed.
Step 3: Fuse the golden heart designs
With the main designs now complete, we can move on to the next phase of the project. Enclose the golden hearts with a rim of scrap metal.
Then mix up some Plaster of Paris and fully submerge the golden hearts and plasticine mold.
Leave the plaster to fully cure. Once complete, pull off the plasticine clay base as gently as possible. This should leave the gold hearts fully embedded in the solid plaster.
With that complete, take your blowtorch and run the hot exhaust gently over each of the hearts in turn. Make sure you do this in such a way as to not completely melt your carefully arranged heart designs.
You are only attempted to bond the golden pieces together where they meet.
Keep an eye on the golden pieces and flatten any blobs that appear using tweezers. Also, manipulate the molten gold to fuse pieces together where needed.
Keep working each heart individually until you are satisfied with the final look. Leave the gold to fully cool before moving on to the next phase.
Once fully cooled, break up the plaster mold to remove each individual heart. Clean off as much of the plaster as possible, and then submerge the hearts in a mild acid to dissolve the rest of the plaster from the gold.
Step 4: Begin to forge the rest of the necklace
With that complete, heat and flatten some more gold into an elongated lozenge shape.
With that complete, heat it once again until red hot and flash cool it in a small amount of clean water. Once complete, draw the metal into a wire and then hammer it flat.
Take your pliers and cut the wire into small strips.
With that complete, fuse one strip to each of the golden hearts using your blow torch.
Rinse and repeat for all other hearts.
Once the strips are fully cooled, take your tweezers and begin to bend the strips into loops.
Do the same for the four other hearts. Once complete, place the hearts onto your heat-proof surface and fuse the loops.
Adjust and manipulate the molten gold as you go, if needed.
Step 5: Polish the hearts
With that complete, begin to polish the golden hearts. You can either do this by hand or using a special tool like a magnet polish.
If using mechanical means, don't worry about damaging your hard work. These machines are specially designed to polish metals, like gold, without physically damaging them.
With that complete, grab your Dremel tool and fine polish the golden hearts as needed.
To make this process as easy as possible, stick the golden hearts in a piece of plasticine to hold them steady and protect your fingers. Rinse and repeat for all the hearts, as much as needed.
With that complete, the main heart details of your gold necklace are now complete. Now, simply link the hearts together using a necklace piece of your choosing.
This can either be a golden chain or in this case, real or mock pearls. With that, your beautiful Mangalsutra necklace is now finally complete.
All you need to do now is decide which wonderful lady you will give it to? Or, of course, you could just keep it in your safe for a rainy day.
If you enjoyed this project, you might want to consider a new metalworking project. How about pimping an old hammer into a new Katana-style one?