Professional Jeweler Archive: From Start to Finish, Part 3

June 2002

Professional Bench/Manufacturing Up Close


From Start to Finish, Part 3

Wayne Lenkeit produces a platinum custom ring, starting with carving the wax through the finished piece


Wayne Lenkeit, owner of Lenkeit Manufacturing and a part-time instructor at the Revere Academy in San Francisco, CA, demonstrates making this custom ring from start to finish. The center stone is an 8.08-ct. aquamarine and the side stones are Montana sapphires. The piece is cast using 5% ruthenium platinum. This process is being shown from start to finish in consecutive issues. This is the third and final installment.

Lenkeit starts the process of setting the side stones by drilling pilot holes using a standard twist drill. The drill is about 35% of the gemstone’s diameter.
Next he uses a bud bur that’s the same or slightly larger diameter than the stone. When the stone is placed, its table will be slightly higher than the top of the metal it’s set into.
Lenkeit uses setter’s cement (a shellac substitute available from most jewelry supply companies) on a wooden dowel to hold the small decorative pieces in place during the preliminary graver work before setting. He uses the GRS with an onglette graver to perform the precutting.
Lenkeit has completed the pre-bead and bright-cut work. The pieces are now ready for gemstones, so he removes them from each holding device.
After all pieces are removed from the holding devices, Lenkeit cleans and polishes each one to a final finish.
Lenkeit now cements the under-gallery section in place, using Place-It 2 soldering fixture paste, which is available from jewelry supply houses.
Place-It 2 hardens after heating, and the cement burns away. Ensure proper ventilation when using Place-It 2. Lenkeit uses 1500 solder for connecting the under-gallery wire to the ring.
He checks the fit of the gem with the under-gallery in place.
Next he uses a small tap to thread the holes at the top of the ring. The tap and die set is available from jewelry supply houses.
Here he uses a die to thread the platinum screws.
Lenkeit threads platinum wires for the screws and solders screw heads to the unthreaded portion of each wire.
He fashions a piece of platinum tube into the small bezel for the stone that will be set in the bottom of the shank.
He makes adjustments and fits the bezel.
Next he solders the bezel in place using 1500 solder.
After soldering the ends of the shoulder ornaments in place, he removes the Place-It 2 and solders the top attachment points with 1500 solder.
The soldering is done and Lenkeit fits and sets the side stones. He supports underneath the shoulders with setter’s cement so he can apply ample pressure during the setting process.
Lenkeit uses beading tools to do the final shaping of the beads.
After more detail work on the sapphire settings and setting the diamonds on the fixed top, he inspects the top section.
Here he uses a 0.5mm carbide ball bur to remove metal to create hidden recesses.
Curved pieces of spring platinum wire are inserted into the recesses to provide tension against the center stone, securing it in place. Before setting the center stone, Lenkeit will polish and finish the ring with several grits of Gesswein polishing compound.
Lenkeit attaches the top and tightens the screws in place. Next he’ll remove the screw heads, countersink the holes and set diamonds in them.
Using a rotary burnisher, he blends the joint between the top cap and shank. He’ll follow up with a tungsten burnisher, fine rubberized abrasives and Gesswein platinum polishing compounds. As a final polishing step, Lenkeit uses a material called Blue Magic.

The finished ring, shown from the bottom and the top.

By Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade Programs, Jewelers of America

Technical contributions and the overall process demonstrated by Wayne Lenkeit, JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler™ Lenkeit Manufacturing, Temecula, CA

Photographs of the work in progress by Colin Lenkeit.

©2002 Jewelers of America

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications