I was recently contacted by a lovely man who genuinely appreciated the art of custom designed hand crafted jewellery. He wanted to combine his late parents wedding rings into his own modern stainless steel wedding ring. He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted beyond this idea, but knew that he wanted a “one off” design. I got quite excited about designing something fresh and new so even though I knew that working with stainless steel might cause some problems along the way, I delved into some design ideas and we settled on something quite unique and striking.
I began by melting his parents two gold rings together and rolled out the bar of gold into a flat strip so that I had enough width to cater for the jagged line that would cut directly through the metal strip. Once I had my matching jigsaw pieces it was time to bend them into shape to form the two outer rings.
After the gold rings were soldered it was time to make them fit perfectly onto the top of the steel ring. This was no piece of cake. As with most one-off designs, this one wasn’t yet in my repertoire, so I had to experiment with a few different methods of forming the perfect taper on the gold that could then be rounded to fit over the slight dome of the top edges of the steel ring. I finally got there in the end.
Before I soldered the gold onto the steel I had to remove the decorative lathe marks from the centre of the outer surface and make the entire outer surface even. Now I know that stainless steel is hard… but this steel was sooooo incredibly hard, harder than all of the stainless steel that I’ve ever worked with in the past. So again I had to delve into my bag of tricks and come up with something that could remove the previous texture and create a new one without leaving flat spots on the ring. So I sat for a long time sanding the steel by hand with some of the roughest emery paper you’ll ever see.
And then of course came the hard part. Soldering gold to stainless steel. Luckily I’d tracked down some special flux and solder at the advice of another member of The Gold & Silversmiths Guild of Australia which really helped the process along.
The end result was a striking, unique “one-off” custom ring, just like I’d imagined, designed and set out to make. The soft grey matte finish of the steel against the highly polished gold matched the idea I had formed in my head from the start and the completed ring had emerged as a statement piece of wearable art.
As always, in the hours leading up to the client collecting his ring I worried that he might not like it, that it may not match what he had imagined… but he seemed pretty happy when he came to collect his revamped wedding ring. I really hope I’ve created something that he and his wife can enjoy for their many years together.