Introduction: How to Make a Solitaire Engagement Ring
You've reached that stage.
You want to propose to the one you love, but you don't necessarily want to go down the line of buying a traditional engagement ring. You would much prefer to create something yourself. Give it that individual feel, and make the ring much more of a personal item.
This instructable will show you how to create your own engagement ring with a bit of designer know how and direct you to the resources you will need to make it.
First though, a little about me. I'm an industrial designer, not a jeweller. That meant that when I wanted to create an engagement ring to propose to my girlfriend, I had lots of lavish ideas of what I could do. I quickly realised that living in a small flat meant that hiding tools to build the ring manually wasn't really an option.
The first thing I did was to research. User edwatkins has an amazing tutorial on how to build a three stone ring, so I took a bit of inspiration from there. I shall say the same thing as he has; this is not necessarily the correct way to make a ring, but it is how I did it.
Step 1: Purchase the Stone
The first step in the process is arguably the most expensive. Being as the ring's shape is greatly effected by the size and shape of the stone, this is the part you need to buy first.
There are loads of factors to consider here; the clarity, the weight, the cut... I had a number in mind that I had saved up and searched to find the best diamond I could get for the price. It may be tempting to get a lower quality stone that is bigger - I would recommend against it. Getting a stone with good clarity means it sparkles that much better and makes a huge difference to the ring.
Step 2: Model the Stone
This is the part where the designer know how came in useful, but is something that you can pick up quite easily.
First, you need to model the diamond in CAD. For this, I used digital callipers to measure it and replicate it virtually. Try to be as accurate as you can at this stage, as it will make it much easier.
To model the diamond, I created a half profile and revolved it to create a perfect shape.
As for the software side, I used Pro Engineer for my ring, but there are plenty of free software packages that you can use to do this.
Examples: TinkerCAD, Autodesk 123D, 3dtin, SketchUp...
Step 3: Model the Ring
This part takes a lot of work. To make it look right, you need to focus on the details!
After finding out the ring size for your proposed wearer, model the main body of the ring in CAD. You can check all the way through that the stone fits in it properly.
When creating mine, I found that by having spaces underneath the diamond, more light could get to it and thus make it sparkle more.
With the arms to hold the stone, I created these longer so that they could eventually be bent over to hold the stone in place. I would say you need a minimum of four of these.
It is worth checking what sort of style the recipient would like first - the last thing you want is for them not to like it!
Step 4: Rapid Prototype
I would be very surprised if you were on instructables and hadn't heard of 3d printing, but for those who haven't, the process is fairly simple. A machine takes the cad data and splits it into 2d layers, then prints them out of a material layer by layer to make a 3d shape.
To create the physical ring, I used the services of i.materialise to rapid prototype the ring.
The way they did it was to print the body out of wax, then investment cast it out of gold afterwards. It has to be said, the service that they delivered was fantastic. Apart from being exceptionally helpful (and very reasonable with costs), they also took photos of the process along the way, to show the mould before casting and the polishing of the body afterwards.
Step 5: Check Fit
Once the ring's main body has arrived, you can check the fit of the diamond inside (this is why it was so important to measure accurately at the beginning!).
Step 6: Fit the Stone
Stone fitting is an art form, and something that I wasn't willing to attempt myself!
Most local jewellery shops will offer a service to set stones that have fallen out etc, so it is worth approaching them for advice.
Personally, I used my local jewellers who took about a week and a half to set the stone in place.
Step 7: Find a Box
Going with the handmade feel, I went for a wooden box to hold the ring, especially as it makes the white gold of the body stand out a bit more, but this is completely up to your own tastes! It is worth spending that little bit more money on though, as a cheap looking box will detract from all the time and effort that has gone into the making of the ring!
Step 8: Ask the Question!
I took my girlfriend away to Bruges on a surprise trip to ask the question, and it couldn't have been a more perfect experience! Everything went to plan, and my now fiancée loved the ring!
Good luck to any of you who wish to follow in my footsteps, I can assure you that it is worth the time and effort you put into it!