The process of making a ring
Making and designing a ring might not sound like a whole lot of work to the person buying online or walking into the studio to purchase, but in reality, there are so many steps involved, it would make you stop and appreciate the skill and craftsmanship going into it if you knew.
All rings starts out a pure Silver extracted from the earth. I buy Sterling Silver granules from a Metal supplier who in turn buys from the mines.
Sterling Silver, is 92.5% parts of Fine Silver and 7.5% parts copper.
Fine Silver (99.9% pure) is very soft and not suitable for ‘every day wear’ rings, By adding copper, Fine Silver becomes Sterling silver and gets in characteristic hardness.
Sometimes I buy Sterling Silver granules, like int he picture below, and sometimes I will buy Fine Silver granules, and add the 75 parts Copper when smelting.
Granules is put into a crucible for smelting, and Sterling Silver melts at 893°C. The smaller the amount, the quicker the smelting process. This batch took quite some time as there was about 250g of Silver to be melted, which I took in 2 batches.
After the Silver is melted, it gets poured into an ingot (pictured above on the left of the crucible).
Then they look like this:
Now these ingots are way to thick (+-1cm) to do anything with, so them must be sent through a rolling mill. Several times. An if you have a manual rolling mill like me, it means HARD LABOR! The ingot is placed between the 2 rollers, and the crank is turned to pull it through to the other side. The spindle at the top is adjusted after every pass the silver takes through the rollers to narrow the gap and making the silver a little bit thinner the next time it goes through.
Now I just have to put a note on Annealing in here:
Annealing – Annealing, in metallurgy and materials science, is a heat treatment that alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness, making it more workable. – Wikipedia
After a couple of passes through the roller, the Sterling ingot or plate, becomes to hard to go any thinner, and it must be annealed to make it softer in order to work with it again. Sterling silver anneals between 750°C to 760°C. These ingots were passed through my roller dozens of times, and and were annealed half a dozen more.
After many hours of rolling the Silver, we finally have Sterling Silver sheet / plate to work with.
From here I can start on the ring!
After cutting it into strips into size and hammering them (insert many, many times of annealing in here), they look like this:
Then its onto forming ring shapes and soldering them shut. Filing and sanding, and hammering them on a ring mandrel to get the final sizing done. These rings had an extra Copper heart soldered onto them. I also added a patina (oxidized) them to give them a rustic feel.
Patina is a chemical process where a film is added onto the metal to speed up the natural oxidation process.
Most of the oxidation is then sanded sanded off to only leave it on the spots that I want it on.
Finally we can get to cleaning and polishing them!
After hand polishing them with a Sterling polishing compound and a polishing wheel, they are ready to be cleaned, packed & shipped.
Did you know that all of this went into the beautiful ring on your finger?