Restoring Finishes

July 1999

For Your Staff:Selling Quality

Restoring Finishes

Knowing how to create Florentine, hammered and stipple effects in precious metal demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

by Tom Weishaar
JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler ™
Underwood Jewelers, Fayetteville, AR

Not so long ago, on a very busy day, a man asked me to mend his wife's wedding ring, a tapered bold band with a crack in the shank. I have to admit I neglected our normal take-in procedure and didn't examine the ring thoroughly before writing up the repair ticket.

When I looked over the ring at my bench, I found it also had a badly worn Florentine finish. Repairing the cracked shank was simple, and to make up for my neglect, I decided to re-Florentine the ring. Because it was my fault, I redid the finish during my lunchtime and didn't charge the customer (please don't tell my boss).

Weeks later the man told me what a hit the repaired ring was with his wife, who was especially pleased with the refinishing job; because the ring looked new, it made her feel younger.

I relearned a valuable lesson through this experience. What we take for granted may be very important to our customers. (Also, neglect can be expensive in the form of lost income.)

In this installment of The JA® Professional's Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship™, we'll examine three common metal texture finishes – Florentine, hammered and stippled – and when and how to restore them properly. Offering this service is an important way to build your customers' trust and generate sales.

Florentine Finish

The term Florentine refers to a line texture cut into the surface of metal with an engraver's tool called a liner.

 

 

The lines can be cut into the metal in a parallel pattern (left). Or more commonly in modern jewelry, the lines are cut into a crosshatch pattern (right), which is less precise but easier to master than a parallel pattern.

 

When restoring a Florentine finish, several factors help ensure a proper job

 

Line gravers come in many sizes; match the size of the graver to the line width of the original pattern.

 

Make sure the angles of the new lines match those of the old.

 

Keep the angle of the lines consistent. Most crosshatch work begins at a 45° angle; secondary lines are made at a 45° angle in the opposite direction.

Hammered Finish

 

As the name implies, a classic hammered texture was created using the rounded end of a ball-peen hammer. Contemporary jewelers have developed other ways to create depressions that simulate a classic hand-wrought hammered finish. (Why don't we use a hammer to restore a hammered texture on a ring? Hammering stretches the metal, increasing the ring size.)

 

 

 

 

 

A hammered texture usually is quite deep and will retain its character through many years of use. But nothing lasts forever. The first sign of wear: when ridges between the depressions lose their crispness and become rounded. It's easy to restore the hammered finish at this point by using a rounded rubber wheel to deepen the depressions and, thus, redefine the ridges.

 

 

 

When the depressions are badly worn, you need a more aggressive process. Recut the depressions with various sizes of ball burs, then prefinish with a rubber wheel before final polishing. A proper hammer finish appears random, so take care not to develop a regular pattern when sculpting the depressions.



 

Stippled Finish

Though seen less often than Florentine or hammered finishes, stippling is very effective and offers contrast to bright polishing. It looks like sandblasting but is much deeper, so it holds up well. To reproduce stippling, mount a sharp point (carbide works best) into the end of a reciprocating hammer tool. Facet the tip of the point to produce the light-reflective angular cuts characteristic of good stippled finishes. Then hammer the point across the metal surface to produce the stipple effect. (If you don't have a hammer tool, you can achieve the same effect using a sharp nail and a hammer.) You can alter the appearance of the stippled finish (or match an original pattern) by varying the sharpness of the points you use.

A Useful Tip, a Great Sales Aid!

Over the years I've developed several textures and variations. I ordered a dozen wide, blank, brass rings (available from most suppliers) and put a different textured finish on each. Then I soldered a jump ring on them, goldplated them and hung the finished rings from a large brass loop. Sales associates use these samples to show customers the variety of available textures.


The JA Professional's Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship

Restoring Common Finishes

By Mark B. Mann
JewelErs of America, New York City
and Tom Weishaar
Underwood Jewelers, Fayetteville, AR

This issue of The JA® Professional's Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship™ illustrates features of three common finishes used on jewelry.

Professional Florentine Finishes

Florentine refers to a line pattern cut into metal. The lines can lie in a singular straight pattern or – more commonly – in a double crosshatched pattern.

  1. Regardless of the pattern (straight single or double crosshatch), the width and depth of the cut lines should be clean and uniform.
  2. The pattern of lines should match and blend without notice.
  3. The angles of lines in the pattern should be uniform.
  4. The finish should terminate at a distinctive or intended line.

 

 

Professional Hammered Finishes

A hammered texture consists of a series of small depressions in the metal.

  1. Each depression should be smooth and well-polished.
  2. The ridges between the depressions should be crisp and distinct.
  3. The sizes of the depressions should vary, giving a "random" appearance.

 

 

 

Professional Stippled Finishes

Stippling looks like sandblasting – a good contrast to bright polishing – but is deeper and, thus, holds up well.

  1. A stippled finish should be bright, like a million little facets reflecting the light.
  2. The pattern should be uniform in depth and coverage.
  3. The pattern should terminate in a distinctive line.

 

Common Problems Related to Finishes

 

Finish "Fades Away"
A line of demarcation divides one finish from another. For rings, it's best to leave the bottom of the shank highly polished because it gets heavy wear and for ease of future servicing (such as sizing).

 

Finish Isn't Distinctive
Some features of the finish have worn away or were applied inconsistently and need to be reapplied. In many cases, it's best to start over with a high-polished ring rather than redoing a finish.

 

Finish Isn't Applied Evenly or Is Worn

Finishes must be applied to jewelry evenly to be appreciated. A wonderfully designed article of jewelry receives little or no attention if the finish is done poorly.

Illustrations by Lainie Mann

© 1999 Jewelers of America

The JA Professional's Guide To Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship is now available in a laminated counter book format by calling Jewelers of America at (800) 223-0673.

This information is required for the second level of the JA® Bench Jeweler Certification program.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


 

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