With a mum who is a jeweller I have been surrounded by shiny beautiful objects my whole life, after many years of watching in wonder at the skill she has when making I felt it was about time I had a go. She invited me up to Cumbria near Scotland, UK for a 2 day workshop she runs for beginner jewellers at Quirky Workshops.
Before I started making I took time to design my piece, this is important as you want to know what you want to achieve before you cut up bits of expensive material. The design process also opens your creative mind and can spark future projects too.
This took be about 2 days but once you get used to the tools it would become a much quicker process.
What you need
The thicknesses of the material can change but you don't want to go too thin, particularly with the plate, as this is a large surface so the thicker it is the stronger it will be, also remember copper is more malleable than silver. The ring wire may also change depending on preference but I find the D shape the most comfortable when you increase the diameter of wire.
Jewellers bench - this is not vital, you can easily fix the Anvil to a table or alternative work bench, preferably one that you sit at.
Saw Frame with spare blades, they break often
Hand files - I used a combination of flat, round and oval shaped files so a selection is helpful
Punches - down to a matter of preference.
Leather mallet - optional, this is used to flatten the sheet material if it bends while working with it.
Soldering Iron with gas
Half round pliers and flat pliers
Compass or something round to draw around - I used a £2 coin as this was the perfect size for what I wanted.
Pickling unit or Ceramic slow cooker to heat water
Step 1: Measure and Cut the Two Plates
Using the compass or a circle template (you don't need to use a circle, depending on your design work you may want to change the final outcome), scribe on the copper the shape you want, a metal scribe is best but a pen mark will also work.
Holding the plate on the bench peg start to saw around the circle, the saw blade needs to be in the cut out groove on the bench peg so that you can get as much pressure on the plate and the wooden peg. The saw cuts on the downward movement so you want to get a nice rhythm and smooth motion of sawing up and down. The neater you cut the easier it will be to file the edges. Bare in mind silver is a tougher material than copper.
When you have cut the two pieces, you need to file the edges so they are perfectly straight and smooth. You can use the ring clamp to hold the pieces as they are small, you can also use the edge of the bench peg to make sure you are filing straight. Once the edges are straight you can use wet and dry sand paper to smooth the surface out.
Step 2: Form the Ring
Using the half round pliers, take the D shaped wire and start bending it into a ring shape, the round side of the pliers should be on the inside of the ring. You want to take the two ends further than they need to be so that you can cut them both to meet in the right place rather than cutting one end to meet the other and finding you have cut the length to short.
To size your ring you can try it on as you bend it, if it is for someone else you can use a ring gauge for the person to find out what ring size they are or if you want to keep it a secret you could use a Ring stick to measure an existing ring they have, (secretly).
Once you have the right size you can fix the ring in the ring holder to keep it secure while your saw. Take the saw frame and cut along both over lapping sections of wire. This should give you a straight cut so both ends marry up nicely.
Now take the pliers and bend the silver together so the ends meet to form a full ring. Hopefully it will be the correct size.
In order for the ring to solder well onto the two plates you need to file off an edge so it can stand up when placed on something flat. This flat surface can be quite large as it will need to fit on the two plates. It makes it easier later if you file the part where the two ends join, as you can centralise this between the gap of the two plates and remove it (see step 5).
Step 3: Add the Detail
Using the punches and a hammer you can add detail to the surface, I added dots, dashes and curved lines just to the silver side but this is up to you. You will need a solid surface, if you have a heavy anvil this should be ok, otherwise a heavy steel block is good. You want to tap the punch just once as you don't want it to jolt and create a double impression, so use the hammer purposefully so you get the full impression in one hit.
you can use the leather mallet to flatten out the piece after if it has bent a little through the process of punching.
Step 4: Solder the Pieces Together
Now you have the three pieces you need to build the ring. This is the soldering part.
Set up the plates in the position you want them, you could use some of the 2.4mm square wire to make spacers to separate the two plates in the right place, long as the spacers don't get in the way of the soldering.
Cut a small length of 2.4 Silver square wire, about 10mm that will act as a spacer between the plates and the ring to elevate it off your finger. This isn't vital but it works better when you're wearing it.
Place the square wire centrally on the two plates, add some flux in the area that you will be soldering. The fluid is used to help keep it clean and free from any oxides which may occur during the heating process. Add two pieces of solder underneath the wire, you will need to lift it up. Using the soldering iron start with heating the surface area around the solder, you want to get the temperature high on both the parts you are soldering together and the solder so it can bond the two parts strongly. Holding the blue part of the flame where you want to heat you should see the solder become molten and run along the seam between the plate and the wire, when this happens you have completed the join. Do the same to the other side.
Using tweezers, place the piece in cold water and then into the pickle for 20 minutes or so, until it has a matt white coating. The pickling process cleans the metal after being heated/soldered. Make sure to always use plastic tweezers when taking items in and out of the pickle.
Repeat the soldering process to solder the ring together and then add it to the plates, placing it onto the square bar you have just fixed to the plates with the flat filed side face down. File down any parts of the ring that are not smooth before soldering it to the plates. Then place in the pickle again.
Step 5: Remove the Central Bar
Now you should have a compiled ring, try it on and see how it feels.
I wanted the ring to look as if the two semi circles were floating together on my finger so I wanted the gap between the two plates to be clear. To achieve this use the saw frame to cut through the square wire and the ring just like you did when forming the ring.
Using the files you can neaten the edges so it feels comfortable to wear.
Step 6: Polish the Complete Ring
Using the polishing motor and wheel you can polish your ring, use different polishing disks to get the desired affect.
If you want a high shine affect a fabric wheel is used
If you want a matt satin affect a harder bristle is used
I did half and half so the silver side was matt and the copper side was shiny.
Now you should have a shiny ring to wear.