Professional Jeweler Archive: Making a Yellow Gold & Platinum Ring Part 1: The Basic Steps

February 2004

Professional Jeweler


Making a Yellow Gold & Platinum Ring Part 1: The Basic Steps

Knowing the tips and techniques of this manufacturing sequence – as well as the features of the Foredom tools, equipment and accessories used in it – contributes to higher levels of service


This two-part series highlights tips, techniques, tools, accessories and procedures to make an 18k yellow gold and platinum ring with a green tourmaline and diamonds from this counter sketch.
The yellow gold ring portion is cast and will be assembled. The platinum accents will be hand-fabricated and installed after the ring is made. Among the final steps is the setting of the center stone and side diamonds.
To prefinish the castings, I use progressively finer aluminum-oxide, resin-bonded, PSA-backed abrasives mounted on 2-in. PSA disc holders with 1/4-in. shanks (A) in the Foredom Bench Lathe (B). Install the PSA abrasive disc into the 1/4-in. collet using the wrench and tightening rod (C) provided with the kit.
With this process, I use a light touch and quickly accomplish a smooth, dead-flat surface on the flat sides. The variable speed dial (D) allows me to adjust the motor speed as needed through the operation. The dust collector hoods (E) have hose adapters on the back that allow me to include them easily in my dust-collection system. They are heavy-duty with rubberized pads on the bottom and sit stationary while the lathe motor operates. Because they aren’t fixed to the counter top, I can move them around to suit a variety of dust- and waste-collection requirements for various wheels and accessories. For more information on the Foredom Bench Lathe Kit, see “Jewelry Prefinishing and Finishing Update,” Professional Jeweler, June 2003, p. 100 or visit www.visual-e-communications.com and click on “Tool Tips.”
For the best outside and inside alignment, I glue the rings together using a super-hold glue gel product. Then I true inside the ring shank with abrasives and file the outside edges so both rings match in all dimensions.
After truing and filing, I use Foredom Ceramic Wheels (F) and the #52 Quick Change Handpiece to remove the file marks and to smooth. These ceramic-impregnated, rubberized abrasive wheels come in a 10-piece assortment with six color-coded grits (wheels with grits ranging from a blue coarse 120 grit to a white super fine 1,500 grit, or you can get packets containing 10 wheels of the same grit.) I prefer these ceramic abrasive wheels because they’re long-lasting and remain cool during operation. Changing the wheel is faster with the quick-change handpiece.
After separating the two shanks, I use a buff and polish wheel (G) with Foredom Platinum Blue compound to lap both sides of each ring. This is drier than other compounds while not excessively dusty. It doesn’t streak, making it suitable for the lapping process, and yields a highly reflective yellow finish.
After prepolishing, I use a forming block (H) to bend and form the top of the ring. Using the side of a dapping punch (I) and a soft hammer, I tap the open shape onto the top of the ring. The side of the dapping punch and the recessed area of the forming block are protected with a layer of masking tape.
After forming the shanks, I use a tack-welder and double-pole tweezers with leads to the positive and negative terminals to tack-weld the shanks. This is a temporary working weld to check alignment. If the alignment is off, I pull them apart and repeat.
Next, I use a pulse-arc welder to make a very firm tack-weld to hold the rings together for soldering.
With the rings firmly tacked together, I solder them using 14k easy yellow solder. No additional holding devices are required.
In Part 2 of this series next month, I’ll form the platinum accents, solder them to the ring, set the center stone and side diamonds, and do the final polishing and finishing.

This installment is sponsored by Foredom, Bethel, CT. For information on Foredom tools, equipment and accessories or for a list of distributors, contact Michael Zagielski at (203) 792-8622 or sales@foredom.com.

For information on this manufacturing process, contact Mark B. Mann at (406) 961-4426 or Mark@visual-e-communications.com.

To see additional shop, service-department and bench-related content, visit www.visual-e-communications.com.

– by Mark B. Mann

Sketch by Lainie Mann
Photographs by Mark B. Mann
Visual Communications, LLC

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications