Bye bye child!
A few months ago my daughter said 'Mom, can I commission you to make me and my partner engagement bands?'
I was so touched by the request, but didn't get started on it till the last minute, Off on a Whim style. My mom had given me a small handful of broken gold jewelry she'd had in her box for a few decades, cause I remember some of those pieces on her when I was a kid, and she gave me permission to melt them all down and use them in the band.
jewelry from grandma
It was a little daunting, the process of melting down gold itself was scary. I had to get a crucible, and make sure I had plenty of fuel for my little torch, and then get an ingot mold to pour the gold into.
hand held torch and crucible
And then learn how to use the rolling mill to create the band. As my daughter was staying with us for a few months, I put her to work rolling out the gold. The first time it took her about an hour, but by the end we had it down to maybe 20m of work.
peek at the rolling mill
But that wasn't the only challenge! We then had to calculate the thickness and length of the band, and I wanted to set a little blue diamond into it. That may have been an over-extension of my skills, but once I decided on it, I was determined.
Our first rolling out of the gold band resulted in a band way too thin for the diamond, so it was back in the crucible. The second rolling was the right thickness, but I didn't get the center measured accurately, and the setting for the diamond was off center. Since the band was on the narrow side, the diamond didn't have enough space and I wasn't able to set it in. Back to the crucible.
1.97mm blue diamond
And back to the crucible for take 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on! We got really good at figuring out how long the band needed to be so it would fit her just right.
testing the fit
After maybe 2 weeks of starting over, I determined the problem was we didn't have enough gold to make the band both wide enough and thick enough to hold the diamond. Sooooo....I dug through my gold jewelry and pulled out pieces that were missing partners or broken and added them into the melting pot.
ring in a vise for diamond setting
AND hooray, this was both the problem and solution: not enough gold but with just that little bit more we successfully produced a band wide enough and thick enough and finally finally finally I was able to set the diamond and it stayed put through cleaning and polishing and wearing around the house for a few hours.
But I tell you, I swore that if I didn't get it set that last time, it wasn't going to have a diamond in it. And we were running out of time because the daughter was due to fly off to Estonia in a couple of days to start a 2-year University course.
this was 98% her plane, we may have gotten it wrong
Making the silver band was so much easier, I used silver sheet for that, and there's no diamond in it, so pretty basic work, phew! However, it's a little on the thin side and I hope to recreate it in the future with thicker silver.
2 bands before finishing touches
My daughter also asked if I might be able to stamp their initials on the rings, and as I had been thinking to get a set of mini stamps already, it was the perfect excuse to hit 'buy now' and add them to my studio. (you can't see the stamp on hers, but you can see the 'j' on his for Julia).
I'm so very proud of this young couple. They are both off to Europe to follow their dreams and pursue their goals. They won't be living together for a few years, but decided to make the committment official, and one day they will come back together and hopefully come back home and rejoin our family unit here in the hills of Japan.
The cutest couple
Nestled in the hills of Wakayama
PS. As many of us who could make it to the airport to say goodbye showed up to send her off in style!
I'm pretty sure I mixed 14k and 18k and maybe 10k gold together, something you shouldn't do for making fine jewelry. But as this was an experiment, I decided to ignore the rules on that one.
I don't have the proper metal stamps to mark the metals as precious so neither band has a 14k or a .925 stamp on them. As long as they don't try to one day sell the bands, it should be fine 😂