Whether you’re a jeweller who wants to take their career to the next level or an old romantic who’s desperate to make their partner’s engagement ring by hand, this is the guide for you.
We’re going to take a look at everything you need to know to make your very own engagement ring, from design ideas and the steps involved to how long it’s likely to take.
How to make an engagement ring
Of course, the exact steps involved in making an engagement ring will differ depending on the ring’s design and the materials you choose. However, much of the process will remain broadly the same.
1. Make the band
You’ll typically start with a long bar of metal that you must turn into the ring’s band. To do this, cut it to the desired length and anneal it with a blowtorch to make it more pliable. You’ll then need a bending machine to work the bar into a circular shape so that the ends are nearly touching each other.
2. Close and round the band
The next step is to solder the band together to form a solid ring. Make sure your blowtorch is prepared and place the solder over the gap. Clamp the ring and heat the band evenly so that it is glowing red. Then heat the solder, which will liquefy and flow into the gap to create a solid joint. Then quickly take the heat away.
The ring should then be placed into a 10% nitric solution to remove any quantities of other metals that may have attached to the ring. This is known as pickling.
Now it’s time to hammer the ring into a perfect circle. Put it on a mandrel to check the size and hit it with a leather hammer until it is circular. Flipping the ring every few hits will help to prevent the band from becoming wider in some places than others.
Once you’re happy that the ring is symmetrical and the right size, you should sand the sides and the interior on a flat surface to remove any oxidation. It’s a good idea to get the sanding done now before the setting has been added as it reduces the risk of damage.
3. Create the setting
If you were making a simple wedding band, all you’d need to do now would be to polish the ring and you’d be finished. Creating the setting and then setting the stone itself are the main reasons why making an engagement ring is a much more difficult skill and takes a lot longer.
In this guide, we’re going to assume that the setting has been bought premade and just needs to be soldered into place. You could take the bold move to create the setting yourself, but that is quite an advanced skill that requires the use of a setting punch. If you do want to make the setting yourself, then here are some excellent engagement ring setting ideas.
To place the setting, you need to make two cuts into the ring that run parallel to each other and are a little smaller than the width of the base of the setting apart. That’s to make sure that there’s some tension on the setting to keep it in place. Once you have your cutout, the setting can then be soldered into place.
4. Smooth the transition
Now that the setting is in place, you need to smooth the transition from the ring to the setting to keep it nice and smooth. You can do this by using a Dremel tool and a file. You can use chips of whatever metal you’ve used to make the band to fill any gaps around the transition. Just heat the ring so that the metal falls into the right spots.
5. Sand and polish
With the transition done, you can now sand the inside and outside of the ring to remove any extra material and round off any edges of the gem setting so that it doesn’t rub against the wearer’s finger. A rotary sander can be helpful but a lot of the work can also be done by hand.
6. Set the stone
Whatever stone you choose to use, whether it’s a diamond, sapphire or one of the many other engagement ring gemstones, setting the stone is a skill in its own right. If you’ve spent a lot of money on the stone, you may wish to have it set professionally. However, it is possible to do it yourself.
To do that, cover the band of the ring in thermoset plastic and place it in a ball clamp. Then carve a thin seat in the setting cup using a Dremel tool. The seat should be deep enough to house the gem securely without obscuring it. Then, use a small hammer and chisel to tap the edges of the setting over the gem to keep it secure in its seat. This should be done very slowly and cautiously to avoid chipping the gem. Only when the gem is level and secured firmly in its seat is your work done.
How long does it take to make an engagement ring?
Now you know how to make an engagement ring, it’s worth thinking about how long it’s going to take. This will vary considerably depending on the intricacy of the design and whether you choose to make the setting and set the stone yourself.
However, as a rough guide, you should plan for around 40-50 hours of labour. It’ll make the task quicker and a lot easier if you have someone with experience that you can turn to for professional guidance and advice throughout the process.
Engagement ring design ideas
Before you can start making an engagement ring, you need to settle on a design. You may have a detailed brief from a client or the friend or family member that you are making the ring for. If you don’t have a set design in mind and are still looking for some inspiration, this guide to just about every engagement ring style and stone will be a big help.
Learn more about jewellery and gemstones
At Learning With Experts, we offer the world’s first online foundation course in jewellery, hosted by our expert Joanna Hardy. This course is for aspiring jewellery makers and enthusiasts who want to learn more about the fascinating world of jewellery and gemstones and find inspiration for their own designs.
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